A New Construction Policy Should Reserve Preferential Treatment for Jamaican Firms

It cannot be that the Jamaican construction industry that designed and built the National Stadium, Conference Centre, New Kingston, and the Bank of Jamaica is being told that in order to redevelop Downtown Kingston and construct the new Parliament building, we have to get foreign expertise to build. It is full time to review the policies that we have pursued over the years.

The construction industry, like many other industries in Jamaica, contributes significantly to economic growth both directly or indirectly. The development of residential and commercial properties, road and bridge works amongst a host of other infrastructural works, forms the foundation for development of the housing stock and the country's infrastructure; it also forms a basis for employment, training and business creation.

The significance of the sector to the overall economy can be stated in terms of the contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as in employment. The industry recorded growth of 0.4 per cent in real value in 2016, representing a four year trajectory of consecutive growth. The sector last year accounted for approximately 7.2 percent of the country's overall Gross Domestic Product.  These results are as a direct result of increased activities in residential housing construction, ongoing commercial projects such as construction and renovation of hotels and other construction related activities such as the build out of office spaces to facilitate the BPO sector's rapid expansion. As highlighted earlier, the industry also contributes significantly to the employment with approximately 94,500 persons employed last year. This represented, the largest annual increase of all industries; and accounted for 8.1 percent of the total employed labour force.

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