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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018

BPO JAMAICA: FEATURE

Metry Seaga

PRESIDENT OF THE JAMAICA

MANUFACTURERS’ ASSOCIATION AND

CHAIRMAN OF THE JAMAICA SPECIAL

ECONOMIC ZONE AUTHORITY

T

HE FACT that I am

standing here in front of

players of the BPO sector

without a bulletproof vest speaks

volumes to how far we have

come and the progress that we

have made in working out some

of the issues that we have had. I

know that this is the start of a

mutually beneficial relationship.

The Jamaican investment

landscape has been transformed

considerably over the past

decade and a half. There was a

time when BPO was unheard of,

taboo even. But today, the

average Jamaican has a much

better understanding and

appreciation of this industry and

what it has to offer.

Any sector that is contributing

in excess of US$450 million to the

economy and is projected to bring

in over US$750 million by 2020

must be given priority.

Importantly, any sector that has

provided employment to more

than 26,000 people must be

applauded.

There is no doubt that this

industry presents an opportunity

for significant development for the

country, which is why the

Government of Jamaica, through

an agency like the Special

Economic Zone Authority,

continues to provide strong

support to your sector. In

developing the Special Economic

Zone (SEZ) legislation, we have

implemented rules that

encourage strategic investments

that foster a partnership between

the public and private sectors.

The Government of Jamaica

(GOJ) intends to develop the

country into a global logistics

destination and we are working,

in conjunction with the private

sector, to do so. The Global

Logistics Hub Initiative is about

the development of all sectors

working in tandem.

In order to achieve the growth

that we know the country is

capable of, we must have a

blueprint for success; we must

have a long-term plan which

outlines the various steps that we

need to take. The Jamaica

Logistics Hub Initiative: Market

Analysis and Master Plan is this

blueprint.

This master plan takes into

account the planned expansions

of ports and airports, and planned

development of special economic

zones earmarked as industrial

parks, commercial centres and

technology parks that will help

spur logistics, manufacturing, and

service industry clusters, which

includes high value-chain

activities.

What we must look at – one of

the major objectives of any

successful linkage programme –

is to encourage the creation of

new opportunities with local

suppliers, as well as the

deepening and upgrading of

existing connections with those

suppliers.

LINKAGE MODEL

Developed countries in Asia

and the Pacific have created and

followed a linkage model which

focuses on information

technology. If our aim is to

develop, then our strategy must

be no different, particularly given

the tremendous potential of the

BPO industry.

Supporting the creation and

nurturing of business linkages

requires that we have a clear

mandate to provide prospective

investors with accurate and timely

information. This is one of our key

imperatives. This means that we

will require a partnership

grounded in open communication

and transparency, which will see

us working in tandem towards

nation building, but at all times

ensuring profitability.

There is a range of projects

currently being developed which

will change Jamaica’s SEZ

landscape and, by extension,

assist in growing industry,

employment and the economy.

As the country continues to

move up the global value chain,

the demand for specialised skills

has seen an increase in the

creation of training programmes

geared specifically towards niche

areas. We continue to adapt to

the changing needs and industry

demands. These training

programmes provide

opportunities for our untapped

human resource and expand the

employment options for our

nation’s youth.

The Special Economic Zone

regime has attempted to create a

modern incentive framework that

allows businesses to capitalise on

a low income tax rate, duty-free

imports and general consumption

tax exemption on local purchases.

This has made the cost of doing

business lower, as companies

benefit from far improved cash

flow and increased profitability

within this regime.

In establishing this legislation, in

partnership with the private sector,

the GOJ had to look at regulations

that would be relevant to all

sectors. In doing so we recognise

that, while the regulations in the

initial iteration may not have been

best suited for the BPO sector, we

have been very willing to, and will

continue to, work with you our

stakeholders to create the best

possible framework within which

to operate.

We are aware of the issues that

some players have been having

with change and renewal, and we

recognise that, in some

instances, it has not been easy.

The SEZ Authority has the

unenviable task of serving all

sectors, and so we must create a

regime that seeks to be balanced

while at the same time serving, as

best as possible, all interests.

The authority is keen on

working with our stakeholders to

make certain that business

efficiency, lack of bureaucracy

and responsiveness to changing

business climates are the

hallmark of doing business in

Jamaica.

GROWING THE

JAMAICAN ECONOMY:

An integrated

approach

SEAGA