The Government’s planned divestment of ownership of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) and its 19 per cent stake in the Jamaica Public Service Company to locals is slated for later this year.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, who made the announcement during his presentation at Mayberry Investments Limited’s virtual monthly investor forum on Wednesday evening (January 12), said the Government should be able to launch initial public offerings for the two during the upcoming 2022-2023 financial year.
He noted that the Administration has “made advances” to this end, and “I’m definitely expecting that in the next fiscal year, we will be able to launch [initial public offerings for] those two”.
Clarke advised that two additional public bodies are in the pipeline for privatisation, noting 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,” the finance minister said.
Clarke emphasised that this will be “extremely important” in light of the ratio of the government sector as a percentage of the economy.
GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO BROADENING OWNERSHIP BASE OF JAMAICAN ECONOMY
According to him, “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”.
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 reminded the gathering that Jamaicans have to date been afforded the opportunity to own stakes in two state entities – Wigton Windfarm Limited and TransJamaican Highway Limited – pointing out that the Government is looking to do likewise with the Jamalco alumina refinery in Clarendon.