By Douglas McIntosh
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has launched a $3 billion Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica programme, for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to reset their operations.
The launch of the DBJ SERVE Jamaica programme took place at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (September 15) and was addressed by the minister of finance and the public service, Dr Nigel Clarke.
He said that Jamaica was able to maintain macroeconomic stability throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and had the flexibility to respond to the resulting economic shock.
Dr Clarke attributed this to sound government policies that he said served to kick-start the country’s recovery from the pandemic, signs of which are beginning to show. Notable among the recovery indicators, the finance minister said, were revenue inflows, which, he pointed out, were up $23.6 billion for the first quarter of the 2021/22 fiscal year that started on April 1.
“The revenues for the first… four months this year, have performed exceptionally well… which is good news,” he pointed out.
Dr Clarke indicated that there was an estimated 12.9 percent growth for the April to June 2021 quarter, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), while highlighting the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) seven to 10 percent projection for the fiscal year 2021/22.
Additionally, the minister said the employment figures are “inching upwards”, while pointing to the corresponding declining unemployment, noting that the latest recorded out-turn was approximately nine percent.
“What we’re seeing, so far, [is that] the projections point to the possibility of a ‘V’ shaped recovery [characterised by quick and sustained recovery… after a sharp economic decline], which would be good news for all well-thinking Jamaicans. The [outcome] of all of that allows us the flexibility to respond to the crisis,” Dr Clarke added.
The minister cautioned, however, that “it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the crisis, because, last year, we lost $74 billion of revenues. So, we still have some ways to go before we can consider ourselves out of this crisis”.
Dr Clarke said: “The good news is… maintaining disciplined policy choice[s], sticking to our principles and having the flexibility to respond to a crisis [like the pandemic] offers us the best possible opportunity for a quick and sharp recovery from the effects of COVID-19”.
The $3-billion DBJ SERVE Jamaica Programme aims to provide grant and loan support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those funds are intended to enable MSMEs to digitise their operations to better serve clients, considering that the COVID-19 health protocols limit physical interactions,
The money, which is a loan to the DBJ, will be channelled through the bank’s Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica programme and disbursed via partner financial institutions.