Speech by the Prime Minister

CB’s Ground-Breaking Ceremony for New Processing Plant


by the

The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, ON, MP

Prime Minister


CB’s Ground-Breaking Ceremony for New Processing Plant

Aug 18, 2017


Let me acknowledge my good friend and neighbor for my constituency, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon founder of the Mustard Seed Communities.


Let me also acknowledge the ministers of government who are here. The Honorable Karl Samuda who I don’t know if it is a prophetic or a Freudian slip but he announced a reshuffle of the cabinet, of course the Minister of Finance Minister Shaw, Minister Wheatley and of course the universal Minister Vaz.


Let me also acknowledge my friend the Mayor of Spanish Town, my home town, Councilor His Worship the Mayor Norman Scott.


Mr. Haskins, I listened very carefully to your presentation sir and I’m very impressed with the acceptance and adoption of new technology into your business process. I’m very impressed with that.


It’s always good to see a young businessman, that’s how I would describe you Matthew. It’s always good to see the dynamism of youth in business and through the side of my eyes looking on at Karl Hendrickson and I could see the pride.


This new facility ” The Nest” – I’m wondering if people are going to now call it “The Bird Nest” or you know Jamaicans we like to extend these names so we might very well call it “The Fowl Coop” – but The Nest is an investment not only in your business operations but it is an investment in the agriculture and agribusiness sector of Jamaica and most importantly as I said before it is a clear statement of confidence in Jamaica.


The hybrid concept of bringing together three distinct operations, your research and development farm for livestock, the R&D farm for new crops, the imagination farm- I just love that name, and your poultry processing plant. The Nest is an excellent concept and it augurs well for growth and development and innovation and it exemplifies the need to operate in a connected way to increase efficiency and effectiveness.


Some years ago not as long as Karl would say forty years ago, but maybe ten years ago I went to see Karl Hendrickson as most of the cabinet would have done because Karl is of virtual reservoir of business knowledge and experience and guidance and when I spoke with him he mentioned logistics. He said “Andrew logistics is the next big thing for Jamaica” and that was 2007 – ten years ago.


Of course I will publicly express my disappointment that we have not yet been able to make logistics a reality in Jamaica. We’re almost there, we’re doing some very good things but we’re not there yet.


If we could compare ourselves with Singapore for example, we’re many years away but we have the good intention and we have the leadership and the commitment. I recall from the conversation your great perspective that we should organize business in such a way that you have everything connected; you have everything in close proximity that the arrangements for transportation, the arrangement for supply, the arrangements for electricity are all in a cluster.


I remember you telling us about the cluster concept and that is how businesses gain efficiency and effectiveness and they can innovate and they can produce and that is how you expand and grow.


I see Karl in the operations here that in your own way you’re creating your own cluster, your own internal business cluster and I want to applaud that; I want to endorse that.


Another thing that I want to endorse is what you said Mr. Haskins about electricity – energy. I didn’t hear you say that you were going to go off-grid. What I heard you say is that you have reached an arrangement with a supplier to ensure that you have electricity at a reasonable and economic rate.


In many ways I’m given the issues that exist in Jamaica with the high cost of energy, I want to applaud that move as a forward thinking move because as you’ve said in the interest of the broader Jamaica that we don’t all go off-grid because that will drive up eventually the cost of electricity for all Jamaica so i want to commend you for that.


At the same time I suspect that you will also be employing energy efficient production practices and I’m also very impressed because while it wasn’t explicitly said you could deduce from what was being said that you are going to be an environmentally friendly operation. Certainly with the recycling of water and the proper management and recycling of waste and again that is something that I endorse and wholeheartedly recommend to all our business people in whatever business endeavor. In whatever productive endeavor please ensure that they are environmentally friendly, environmentally safe, that the practices engage the recycling, the reuse and of course to ensure that whatever we do it is sustainable.


When I was putting together the cabinet I decided to merge two unlikely ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Commerce and now we have MICAF so we put the two ministries together and there is a reason behind that.


For too long we’ve treated agriculture as if it were a hobby. We need to bring the best business mind and the best scientific minds to bear on agriculture. Agriculture, Agro-business particularly agro-processing is the fastest way of expanding the Jamaican economy, create jobs and bring growth and that is the job of Minister Karl Samuda.


The idea is that all the business support that is needed to make agriculture efficient, to increase the absorption of technologies, to ensure that the markets are stable and predictable, to ensure that financing is available, the ministry that is now created is to ensure that there is an entire ecosystem that will allow for not just the primary production in agriculture but that there is opportunity for vertical integration in agriculture.  What I’m seeing here, what is being said here at the launch of this investment is that you are vertically integrating into agriculture and again I endorse this initiative.


A hundred and twenty million US dollars is nothing to sneeze at. That is a lot of money. I want the statement that I’m about to make to be appreciated in the best sense. For Jamaica to grow we need entrepreneurs, we need businessmen, we need risk takers. Many people parading as entrepreneurs, as businessmen but they’re not taking any risk, they’re not innovating, they are gathering at the margins, they confuse savings with investments. They look for secure way for secure saving instruments and they say that is investing. Jamaica needs entrepreneurs.


There is a school of thought which says you train entrepreneurs but there is another school of thought which says the entrepreneur is like a naturally reoccurring resource. It’s a God given created talent; it’s a gift. I’m not going to get into the debate as to whether you can train the entrepreneur or the person is just naturally an entrepreneur but whatever it is we need more entrepreneurs. More persons who are going to look at problems, see the needs, be innovative to create the solutions but more than that, take the risk to implement the solutions.


Of course the motive for the entrepreneur is always a profit motive but more and more we find that the motive of the entrepreneur is not so much profit as it is a bigger vision, an empathy for the situation whether it is and if you look at the entrepreneurs who’ve done well, one comes to mind Tesla – Elon Musk. Clearly he wants to make a profit but there is this driving force about renewable energy and using electricity as a general energy source and we need more entrepreneurs who are going to be looking at the Jamaican situation; our need to provide employment for our young people in particular.


The need to innovate and bring products to the consumers at a reasonable price and what I see in the entrepreneurs involved in the CB Group is this great corporate social responsibility. It’s not just about profit. It is about making Jamaica a place of choice. It’s about providing employment for the people of Jamaica. It is about doing the innovations that will bring products to the people of Jamaica that they can afford thereby helping the poor people of Jamaica and so I’m here to endorse this project because I see and I know that the people who are there behind it they’re not just there for profit, they are there for the betterment of Jamaica and the Jamaican people.


Matthew you said it. This investment is possible because there in an environment for investment. Interest rates are low, the outlook is good, business confidence is high. The government will continue to support and create an environment in which risk takers can manage the risk of investment.


The government will continue to pursue a fiscal policy that is predictable. A fiscal policy that is supportive of economic growth and job creation. I want to use this platform to say to all our investors, all our entrepreneurs, to our business people, the time is now to invest. The time is now to put your money in Jamaica. We now have what I like to think of as a bipartisan policy consensus on economic policy particularly on fiscal policy. That’s very important for investors.


We’re developing and I would like to think that it would be bipartisan; a policy for economic growth and that involves how do we make government more efficient to serve you so that the permit that you need, the approvals that you need are done quickly. I believe that this government will in short order transform the public sector so that it is more efficient in its service to the private sector, so that its cost to the private sector is reduced and its support of the private sector is improved. When that is done, you will have now a significant partner in growth and development in the public sector and that will be a great catalyst for economic growth and job creation in this country.


I’m also happy to see that you’re exporting. The Jamaican market is a good frontier to have but we’re only going to grow significantly when we have huge footprints in all the markets in this region so I encourage you not just to serve the Jamaican market; I want you to export. It is in export that you will earn the foreign exchange, that you will create the economies of scale to grow even further so I’m very happy to see that the group is exporting and I again I stand here to endorse that.


Ladies and gentlemen it is my great pleasure to have broken my vacation to be here with you. I think it is a very good sign for Jamaica to see a Jamaican company with Jamaican people putting up their money even though we’ve denominated the investment in US dollars but let me say, it is fifteen dollars that the CB Group will be investing.


When you say it that way it is very dramatic but the point I’m making is that I’m very pleased to see Jamaican investors investing in Jamaica to this magnitude and I want you to know that the government of Jamaica will stand with you to ensure that your investment is profitable and that the people of Jamaica will benefit significantly in economic growth and job creation.


God bless you.