Industry and Commerce Minister Audley Shaw has again pointed to the low productivity of the Jamaican workforce as a challenge to sustainable economic growth and development.
Highlighting the gains made at improving the local economy, Shaw said: “We have to improve the productivity of the country so that our workers can get a better pay cheque that can enhance their own wealth in a [meaningful] way.”
He said notwithstanding the “tremendous and new goals” being achieved in the economy, there is need for higher levels of productivity to sustain and heighten these.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the initial public offering (IPO) by the alternative investment outfit, FirstRock Capital Holdings Ltd on January 9 in Kingston.
FirstRock, which is involved in real estate and equity investment, is looking to raise US$12.3 million ($1.6 billion) from its IPO, which opens on January 13 and runs until January 31.
Shaw said the decision by the principals of FirstRock to offer shares in the firm’s operations to the public is indicative of their confidence in Jamaica’s economy.
The industry and commerce minister pointed out that there has been increased employment and a commensurate reduction in unemployment to a record low 7.8 per cent; and significant debt reduction, down from 145 per cent of gross domestic product to 93 per cent.
“With all of the problems that we have, there are far more opportunities than [challenges]. We can create wealth in Jamaica… and the more wealth we create is the less crime we will have; and the more human development that we enhance… is the less problems that we will have,” he argued.
Shaw said the extent to which confidence in the economy continues to grow is evident in the feedback already forthcoming to the IPO, noting that “we have seen [the] level of interest that has developed [in] your initiative, even before you have gone public”.
FirstRock will use the funds raised from the IPO to acquire several additional properties in Jamaica and the region.
The firm already owns properties across the island, Costa Rica, and the United States.
The entity recently recorded a US$218,000 net profit from six months of operations.