The Cable

KINGSTON, Jamaica — In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Acorn Group is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to stage a timely series of discussions on national growth and productivity, which will be framed around the central question: Are Growth and Productivity in Jamaica at Risk?

Scheduled for October 10 at the University of the West Indies, Regional Centre, the sessions, which are open to the public, will explore the historical experience and impact of low productivity; job creation and the dangers of jobless growth; artificial intelligence and effectively embracing technology; and the urgent need to increase productivity, among other topics.

The seminar will take place in two sessions. The first session will be an economic analysis of the relationship between growth and productivity. This discussion will be led by Inder Ruprah, former regional economic advisor who was responsible for leading a team dedicated to research on Caribbean development issues at the IDB. His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with a number of senior members of the public and private sector, academia and the trade union movement and will be open to audience discussion.

The second session will take the form of a debate on the benefits of growth with and without job creation. The main protagonists will be Dr Marshall Hall, chairman of the Labour Market Reform Committee, and Patrick Hylton, group managing director of National Commercial Bank. This discussion should be provocative and should highlight the risks of jobless growth on the issue of employment in Jamaica and should highlight the actions necessary for labour force training to meet the challenges of modernisation. This session will also include a panel of discussants and will be open to audience participation.

Addressing the importance and impact of productivity in the quest towards achieving economic growth, Acorn co-founder, Ward Mills noted: “There is a critical link between productivity and economic growth, and together they form a ‘partnership’ which is essential to an improved quality of life and sustainable development at the micro and macro levels. However, for many decades, Jamaica has struggled with unacceptably low levels of productivity, and it is against this background, on the occasion of our 20th anniversary, that ACORN thought it timely and important to explore new ideas and solutions which could free us from this trap that has inhibited the country’s social and economic potential for so long.”

Commenting on the importance of dialogue on the productivity issue, Therese Turner-Jones, general manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department stated: “Jamaica is at a pivotal stage in its development journey. The government has been able to successfully stabilize fiscal and macroeconomic conditions in the country with an appropriate focus now on realizing economic growth. This seminar is therefore a relevant and constructive part of the dialogue that can help to unearth perspectives, new knowledge and solutions for the way forward, which is key to improving lives.”

Turner-Jones added, “The IDB is happy to support the Acorn Group on this worthwhile initiative and wish for all participants a fruitful seminar.”

The Acorn Group is a consortium of dedicated Jamaicans comprised of several senior members from the private sector, the trade union movement, academia, and the public service, who play a key role in maintaining good relationships between important sectoral interests in Jamaica with the aim of fostering industrial harmony and social partnership. The Acorn Group was instrumental in conceptualizing and initiating the development of the national social partnership and various multi-sectoral working committees.

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