Speech by the Prime Minister

Official Opening of Adam and Eve Spa

Official Opening of Adam and Eve Spa

Keynote Address


The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, PC, MP

Prime Minister of Jamaica

At the

Official Opening of Adam and Eve Spa


May 15, 2024


Thank you very much, Kamila, for your wonderful mastery of the ceremony so far. You’ve been very efficient, and I propose to continue in that vein with the delivery of my own comments.

Let me acknowledge Dr Andre Haughton for his very efficient statements as well. And Julian, I think it’s time that you go to the NHT. While you’re at it, you should just say thank you.

And of course, to our host Garth and Kimisha; thank you so much for the invitation. I have no apologies for the efforts that we made during COVID. We certainly believe it kept the nation safe, but I do however, understand that it did cause you some pain; but today you are stronger.

My ministers, I’ve greeted Minister Grange and said, what are you doing here at a spa this hour of the day?  I know Minister Chuck has no reason to be here. And I know that a regular visit to the spa is our good friend Member of Parliament for the adjoining constituency, Phillip Paulwell. Good to see all of you here and such a wonderful audience gathered.

Today marks a remarkable milestone for Adam and Eve Day Spa. I don’t need to recount the struggle; you’ve done a very good job of telling us the challenges that you have faced.  I am very pleased that you were able to stick it out, to weather the storms and fight the struggle because we’re all faced with challenges in life. Every one of us, we have our challenges, but the real mark of strength is for the person who in spite of the challenge, decides to embrace the struggle and persevere.

And so today, all of the people you see here today are not here because of the spa, they are here because of your story of perseverance, resilience and they’re here to celebrate you and to pay their respect. And of course, you represent by your own struggle, by your own journey, a statement to other young black Jamaicans to use the terms expressed by your member of parliament and which I too embrace, you’re a testament in business and in family. So, I wanted to use this opportunity to point out to Jamaica that the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are a critical part of the Jamaican economy, and who leads that segment of our economy?  It’s people like Garth and Kemisha.

We may not have the context and full figures of what that segment of our economy looks like but there are about 425,000 small, medium micro enterprises in Jamaica.  In fact, we know this because many of them are registered taxpaying entities. In fact, we know that those 425,000 MSMEs, they generate annual revenues of between 15 million dollars and 425 million dollars yearly.

Now, Adam and Eve’s Day Spa is probably a little bit outside of the 425-million-dollar range and they hire between one and fifty persons which you fit squarely in based upon what you have said, you have about 40 employees and collectively we know that there are about 412,000 own account workers in Jamaica, people who are self-employed.  So, when you look at the Jamaican economy and what carries the economy, it’s not just big businesses.

The fact that the Jamaican economy continues to do well, our tax revenues and take continues to increase, it is because of businesses like Adam and Eve Day Spa.  So, there are those who might be wondering, why is the prime minister coming to open a spa, there other things to do in the country. Yes, of course, but part of my duty and responsibility is to acknowledge and support those who have made the investment, those who continue to take the risk in the economy, those who continue to innovate and Garth and Kamisha are wholly representative of that, and I’m here like all of you, to celebrate them to offer our support and to endorse their activities. And to encourage the other 425,000 businesses out there that might be facing a difficult time. Interest rates, we know are a challenge.

Another challenge that they face, whenever I get a chance to interact and I meet with some of the businesspeople they tell me, Prime Minister, we can’t find workers and by the nods I’m seeing in the audience, it is something that is a genuine concern. From our perspective, it is not that we don’t have persons in Jamaica, Andre, we do have a pool of unemployed persons; that pool is rapidly declining. The challenge is that as the pool declines, you’re starting to see now those persons who require greater training and greater effort and that is why we have put together certain programmes at the Heart Trust/ NSTA to attract those young persons who are still outside of the labour force and to train them so that when they get into the labour force, they are employable and at a level that reduces the training costs on the small businesses.  And those programmes are working very well. We expect the unemployment numbers will continue to decline, and we are expecting that within another year or so, our workers entering the labour force will be at a higher level of skill, which will start to address these challenges that we have.

Of course, it is not just the global economic environment, access to credit, interest rates; a part of the story which was well told by Garth is access to proper infrastructure. It’s a general challenge that businesses face, but specifically access to purpose-built facilities. The quality and availability of good real estate for business is a challenge and the cost of getting access to this real estate is also a big, big challenge. Many businesspersons, particularly MSMEs, they raise the issue of, for example, not having enough warehousing space; that’s always a problem, and in the search for properties, when they do find properties, the level of retrofitting that has to be done to make the property useful is sometimes overwhelming on the business.

Now, this is not an area in which government could easily solve the problem. This is really a private sector challenge; how do we get the private sector to mobilize more capital in building out commercial spaces that are affordable and built in such a way that it can accommodate many types of businesses. It is being done, but not at the pace that would support business enterprise in the way that our business enterprise is growing. Nevertheless, through the Factories Corporation of Jamaica the government has given a directive to the FCJ that right across Jamaica where they have property or where they don’t, they should acquire to start building out what we’re calling the turnkey community micro business parks and we’re doing the first one in Morant Bay.

You will recall that we have made a massive investment in the parish of St Thomas in building out the Morant Bay Urban Centre. The Morant Bay Urban Centre is on 25 acres of land formally the old Goodyear Factory. I toured there a few weeks ago; fantastic, what is being done there in terms of buildings and facilities and the infrastructure but we recognize that whilst we will have larger businesses moving in and occupying the space,  that we must support the MSMEs in and around the area to create this ecosystem of real estate and facilities and so the first park will be built there on an additional 10 acres that we have acquired. So, it is not only the urban centre in terms of the buildings that have been laid out for banks and for universities and for big shopping centres and so forth,  but we will build out a business park for micro and small businesses and the FCJ has been given a directive to look at all the urban centres in Jamaica to acquire land in proximity or if they have land in the urban centres to start to develop these micro  business parks that will ensure that small entrepreneurs can find real estate to house their activity.

So, I thought that this would be a very good platform on which to make that comment but as I close, as I did promise to be super-efficient, we should bear in mind that the Factories Corporation of Jamaica has undertaken a massive expansion of the Garmex  facility in two phases and we have spent over the last three years, 3.5 billion dollars to expand it. It is a wonderful facility, and many businesses are finding accommodation there.

So as I close, I don’t need to remind the country of our record low unemployment rate, the lowest national debt-to-GDP ratio in 30 years, this very stable exchange rate, no new taxes for over nine consecutive years, a net international reserve of five billion dollars for the first time ever and we don’t need to remind the country of that and we are meeting our inflation targets. I don’t need to remind the country the country of that.

I make an observation, you’ll permit me, Garth, at this wonderful event and for the audience listening, that in the present atmosphere which some people describe as the silly season, which has started,  many silly things have been done so the issue for many persons including many persons who I thought would have analyzed the situation a little differently, the perspective is that the government is doing so much but nobody knows.

The government has done so much, but the government is not telling its story and we are ceding space to the Opposition to tell their story. It’s incredible because every time we speak, we tell the story of the Jamaican success, but you have to understand the age in which we exist. And I see Andre smiling in agreement. We exist in the age of what is called the attention economy.  Nobody wants to listen to good news that doesn’t get likes and follow.

What gets liked and followed would be things that are negative, things that are bizarre, things that are strange, things that are controversial, things that are silly. It is an unfortunate pronouncement of this new emerging kind of perspective, which makes it very difficult for governments, not just for incumbents, not just for this administration but if you look right across the world at all other governments, they face that. And it’s just the emergence of a new form of media and a new form of information dissemination. And we appreciate and understand that, and the government has to come to grips with this in terms of how it finds ways to deliver the message of its performance. So, it’s a very curious thing that government is being criticized, but not for its lack of performance.

You have a government that performs, but it is heavily criticized, and it is a strange place to be in but don’t worry, this is a very resilient government and innovative government, and we are not perturbed by narratives that are created. We have a story to tell, and we will tell our story in the best way possible for all Jamaicans to hear and understand. So, with that said, I relieve you to go to the NHT project that this government has created for the benefit of the Opposition.