Hon Audley Shaw (left), Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, greets Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Janet Omoleegho Olisa, at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s Breakfast with the CEO under the theme ‘Eye on 2020: Exploring New Frontiers’, held at The Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 28, 2019. At center is Fredik Ekfeldt, Head of Politics, Press and Information at the Delegation of the European Union in Jamaica. The forum is aimed at updating stakeholders on the Corporation’s strategic plans.

The Government has engaged the services of a consultancy group to identify the steps necessary for tapping into the nearly $50-billion in dormant bank accounts, with the aim of using these funds to provide low-interest financing to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Speaking at a Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) breakfast forum held under the theme ‘Eye on 20/20: Exploring New Frontiers’at The Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 28, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw said access to affordable financing has been identified as a major constraint to MSME growth and development in Jamaica.

“In fact, the JBDC has reported that 73 percent of MSMEs sees capital as the most needed resource for production,” he added. The engagement of the services of the consultancy group to look at the steps to be taken in accessing dormant funds comes against the background of the governance framework, which stipulates a 15-year timeline before the dormant funds can be accessed by the State. This, Minister Shaw said, compares to the international standard of seven years, and five years in the case of the United States.

“The first report is due in April [and] the second report by July, which I will then be shared with the Minister of Finance and the Public Service because accessing dormant funds has got to be a part of the landscape of finding affordable funding for small and medium enterprises… and we are serious about it,” Minister Shaw emphasized.

The Minister posited that in order to attain higher levels of economic growth, “we have to ensure that we get capital into the hands of our entrepreneurs at reasonable, attractive, low single-digit interest rates”.

Minister Shaw lauded JBDC’s management and staff for their work with MSME stakeholders, stating that he was impressed with the work of the JBDC, which last year saw some 56 training sessions held to provide MSMEs with capacity building. Additionally, over 4,469 consultations with 4,399 clients were conducted.

This, he said, is indicative of the agency’s “seriousness” and “level of strategic focus” that it placed on discharging its mandate as the Government agency responsible for providing support to spur MSME growth.