Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, says having pools of capital that can be used to pursue opportunities is conducive to Jamaica’s growth and development.
“Our aim is to commoditize capital (and build) Jamaica, where if you have a good idea or a good plan, if you have the energy in your stomach, the mindset, and the nerves to take on the hard path of an entrepreneurial career, then lack of capital should not stop you. The fact that you don’t come from a family that has generational money shouldn’t stop you,” Clarke said.
Addressing the inaugural ‘Sygnus Day,’ hosted by the alternative investment firm, Sygnus, Clarke said the Andrew Holness government is supporting a deepening of capital markets to enable a Jamaica where capital is commoditized.
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He said the country’s long-term sustainability will be best achieved through a robust private sector, with the capacity to mobilize investments on a scale “that far exceeds the government’s capacity.”
Clarke said commoditizing capital speaks to the accessibility and affordability of funding, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“The key is to have an enabling environment where investment is attractive, where there are investment opportunities, where the government doesn’t stand in the way of investment, and (where) there are means by which investment can be mobilized.”
The finance and public service minister told the audience that the government has been pursuing policies that are conducive to this mobilization of private capital in Jamaica, to build a robust medium and small business ecosystem.
Some of these initiatives have been the removal of distortionary taxes, bringing private assets to market and by reforming regulations to make the accumulation of capital more seamless.
Furthermore, in 2019, a reform was made to the pension investment regulations, allowing pension funds and institutional investors to invest in private vehicles that are dedicated to venture capital and private equity.
Additionally, through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the government is sponsoring the emergence of a venture capital fund with an investment of J$750 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) as announced in this year’s budget presentation. There is also an SME private equity fund, incubator fund, innovation fund, accelerator program, and others, which were launched by the government.
“The fact that you don’t have an auntie or an uncle you can call…shouldn’t stop you because a Jamaica where that is the prerequisite for entrepreneurial success, is a Jamaica that will turn on itself. That is a Jamaica that can’t last. That is a Jamaica where the forces of resentment will tear it down,” Clarke said.
He said with the successful commoditization of capital, what will make a difference between emerging entrepreneurs is “your energy, your acumen, your passion, your character, and your ability to bounce back from defeat.