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Jamaica moving ahead with digital services strategy


Jamaica moving ahead with digital services strategy
Jamaica Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett (GP)

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KINGSTON – The Jamaica government said it was moving ahead with plans to implement the national five-year Global Digital Services Strategy, aimed at increasing the sector’s employment to 70,000 jobs by 2025.

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett said in Parliament the figure is up from the current 40,000 jobs and the strategy aims to facilitate further expansion of the industry.

He said several government interventions being employed to support this sector aimed to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) industry.

These include the disbursement of 444 loans valued at approximately JM $4.5 billion (about U.S. $30 million) to an estimated 100 MSMEs through the National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank).

“Furthermore, over 60 of EXIM’s clients were provided with the opportunity to save their businesses through loan restructuring and payment holidays to the tune of JM $973 million (about U.S. $6.5 million),” the minister said.

Bartlett said as part of several initiatives to support the sector, the government has earmarked JM $600 million (about U.S. $4 million) to be transferred to the EXIM Bank to provide financing for productive MSMEs during the 2021-22 financial year.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bartlett said support was provided to the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector to allow for adjustments to business models, including the institution of work-from-home arrangements and in-meeting, social-distancing protocols.

“Despite early job losses, with the support provided, the sector rebounded with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) facilitating the expansion of five companies with the potential to add 3,000 new BPO jobs to the sector,” he said.

Bartlett said it was important to support the investment into the sector, which has a critical and strategic role in the growth and development of the country and has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.