Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Letter of the Day | Special Economic Zones enable sustainable social development

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2021 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

As a small island developing state, Jamaica is particularly vulnerable to global recessions, climate change and pandemics. What the country needs at this time of COVID-19 infections, frequent natural hazards and economic recession is a unified vision of sustainable social development that is inclusive and resilient. In a world defined by globalisation, the Government has determined that its passport to prosperity can be erected on a logistics-centred economy, hence the Logistics Hub Initiative that has Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as core enablers. While foreign direct investment can pay our fare to the promised land, our visas emanates from technology transfer, skills upgrading and innovation. We may choose to export our natural resources and talent abroad, but a path that enables value addition, value capture and value creation at home is eminently more sustainable. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb.

It has been well documented that a structured Special Economic Zones policy augmented by socioeconomic capabilities is an effective economic enabler (for example, as in China, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, Philippines, Africa, Costa Rica, Panama, etc). The fiscal incentives available under Jamaica’s SEZ regime are undoubtedly the most attractive and competitive investment support mechanisms offered to investors in goods production or distribution and in services provision.

First movers across a wide range of industries that have availed themselves of the Government’s programme to develop and facilitate strategically located “Socially engaged, environment-enhancing Special Economic Zones” primarily by the private sector, has begun to stimulate the economy. By design, these SEZs, via the industrial clusters they are spawning, are providing employment, commercial, residential training and recreational opportunities while generating foreign exchange earnings, technology and knowledge transfers to a wide “urban support” area incorporating and benefiting multiple constituents at the same time. More is on the horizon … .

PROF ERIC DEANS

Chief Executive Officer

Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority