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The SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund is a signature moment for Jamaica — Nigel Clarke

Speaking at the launch of the US$40-million SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund hosted by Sagicor Investments, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said that the economic and legislative stars have aligned for Jamaica in a manner that has never been seen before.

“This investment by Sagicor Investments and the hosting of the Jamaica office by SEAF Caribbean is a signature moment for Jamaica. The private equity fund created by SEAF means that prior ownership of capital is not a prerequisite of success,” the finance minister stated.

“This company could go anywhere.  Jamaica is in transition and is on its way towards a profound economic turnaround. We, as a country, were in the depths of despair in 2013 and in six and a half years, we have completely turned ourselves around. Jamaica is known around the world for its economic management,” he added.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva (Photo: file)

In his speech at the Sagicor Auditorium, Clarke made reference to a speech given by Kristalina Georgieva, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, on October 14th in Washington, DC, where she stated, “In Jamaica, which is completing an IMF-supported programme, cutting red tape made it easier to start a new business. These types of reforms help people find new opportunities, reduce excessive inequality, and enable countries to prepare for shocks.”

“This investment by Sagicor Investments and the hosting of the Jamaica office by SEAF Caribbean is a signature moment for Jamaica. The private equity fund created by SEAF means that prior ownership of capital is not a prerequisite of success. ”

— Dr Nigel Clarke, Jamaica’s minister of finance and the public service

Clarke said that the current Administration has been actively laying the groundwork for not only a general economic turnaround but also the expansion of the pension fund investment pool, which also would help to expand the economy.

“There is about JM$550 billion in the Jamaican pension fund system and when you add the insurance industry and other institutional funds, that figure grows to JM$1 trillion of investable funds,” the minister of finance declared.

Clarke noted that for a long time, these funds were restricted by legislative guidelines that limited where they could be invested.

“Reforms piloted through the House earlier this year means that, for the first time in Jamaica’s history, pension funds can invest in venture capital and private equity. The goal is to unleash money into this space.”

While Clarke lauded the investors and the pension funds for supporting him in the quest to expand investment options, he expressed his concern that less than 10 per cent of Jamaicans employed to the private sector are in an approved retirement plan.