While speaking at the Kiwanis Club of North St. Andrew’s weekly meeting at the Jamaica Police Officers Club on Thursday, Minister Clarke noted that the significant reduction in Jamaica’s debt is creating a need for real sector investment opportunities for institutional and portfolio investors to invest in.
The Minister told the Kiwanis Club, “We’re pursuing debt reduction through fiscal consolidation and the Central Bank is creating the conditions for credit expansion, through low interest rates, that are conducive to economic and employment growth. But in the context of GOJ debt reduction where investors end up with more cash, and J$ cash options yield less on the short end as interest rates are reducing, then portfolio conversion pressures are created.
This has to be complemented by the availability of productive assets that are attractively priced for the Jamaican public to invest in. Most of these have to be generated by the private sector. However, over the short to medium term, the Jamaican public can expect to have the opportunity to invest in assets brought to market by the GOJ in value of more than $30 billion. I could justifiably use a much higher number but I’m being very conservative.”
The Minister noted that Wigton Wind Farm, the renewable energy company owned by the Government of Jamaica that is worth multiple billions of dollars, is slated to be divested to the Jamaican public over the next several months. The Minister further noted that there will be other privatisations and, in addition, opportunities will arise from other Government projects including the Government Circle project.
The Minister informed the audience that, “The PM has spoken about his vision for transforming National Heroes Circle into Government Circle with the construction of office towers and complexes accompanied by residential construction of varying types. That’s a project that’s worth tens and tens of billions of dollars. I would say that when that project comes on stream, Jamaican capital will have an interesting opportunity and I put it to you that the attractiveness of such opportunities are likely to be such that portfolio conversion incentives are likely to reverse.”
The Minister stated that data from the Jamaica Stock Exchange and other sources suggest that over the course of Jamaica’s economic reform programme, investment returns from investment in the Jamaican economy have far outpaced the returns from US$ interest bearing alternatives.
The Minister told the Kiwanians that with economic fundamentals of increasing employment, lowering poverty, low inflation and record low interest rates now represents a time of unprecedented opportunity. “It’s a time to seize the unprecedented opportunities created by an alignment of economic fundamentals all moving in the right direction”, the Minister stated.
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