Newly appointed State Minister for Mining, Energy and Information Communication Technology (ICT), Hon. Julian Robinson, says he will be aggressively targeting and pursuing prospects for ICT investments in the country.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Robinson, who has been assigned responsibility for ICT in the Ministry, headed by Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said Jamaica is viewed "favourably" as an ideal location for business process outsourcing (BPO) by several overseas-based entities engaged in this undertaking.
The State Minister, who was involved in the ICT sector while engaged in investment promotions at JAMPRO, where he previously worked, as well as in private consultancy, disclosed that already, he has been in touch with a number of stakeholders, "who have indicated an interest in moving some of their business operations here."
Mr. Robinson pointed out that discussions are still taking place, and he is confident that, "with a focus on this area…we can attract the investment."
"There is a lot that we can do to promote Jamaica as a location for ICT investments and business process outsourcing. We have some advantages as a country…and ICT investments provide a great opportunity for job creation. So, that’s certainly one of the principal areas that I am going to be focused on," he assured.
The State Minister also highlighted several other key issues which the Ministry would seek to address, including the revitalisation of the bauxite industry, and the associated production costs, which he laments are “too high,” consequent on the high price of energy.
In this regard, he said the Ministry and by extension, the administration, is committed to sourcing and pursuing alternative energy options to oil, in the effort to reduce the nation's energy bill and to enhance the economy’s competitiveness.
"We will be continuing the work that the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Steering Committee has done. There are a number of other proposals to look at in relation to alternative sources of fuel, and we are committed to doing that, (not only) from the perspective of consumers, who have to pay very high electricity bills, but also from the perspective of businesses that simply can't compete with our neighbours," the State Minister said.
Mr. Robinson, who assumed office just over a week ago, informed that he has been familiarising himself with the Ministry’s various agencies and departments, staff and focus areas.
"In my discussions with Minister Paulwell, what we have agreed on is that I will be exposed to all areas and aspects of the Ministry. But, I will hone in specifically on the ICT portfolio. So, I have spent the time understanding some of the issues, and being briefed by the civil servants. We want to be fully acquainted with the issues to ensure that we address them properly," the State Minister said.