By Douglas McIntosh
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The government is to divest ownership of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) and its 19 percent stake in the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to locals during the 2022/23 fiscal year. Minister of finance and the public service, Dr Nigel Clarke, says the administration has “made advances” to this end, and “ I am definitely expecting that in the next fiscal year, we will be able to launch [initial public offerings for] those two”.
Dr Clarke was speaking during Mayberry Investments Limited’s virtual monthly investor forum on Wednesday, January 12, advised that two additional public bodies are in the pipeline for privatisation, adding that the government will continue to roll these and others out, “as we redefine the Jamaican State”.
“What we want to do is to enlarge the private sector. Every time we do a divestment, what happens is that the government sector gets smaller, and the private sector gets bigger,” he indicated.
The minister emphasised that this will be “extremely important” in light of the ratio of the government sector as a percentage of the economy.
“If you look at central government plus the public bodies as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), together they account for a very large share of the Jamaican economy,” he added.
Dr Clarke said this was “probably unhealthy” because “the government sector, historically, has crowded out the private sector”.
“The government remains absolutely committed to that policy [of] broadening the ownership base of the Jamaican economy [through the divestment of State assets],” he added.
Jamaicans have, to date, been afforded the opportunity to own stakes in two State entities – Wigton Windfarm Limited and TransJamaican Highway Limited.
Dr Clarke has indicated that the government is looking to do likewise with the Jamalco alumina refinery in Clarendon.