The government is seeking to reduce the 15-year cap on accessing funds held in dormant bank accounts, estimated at nearly $50 billion.
The aim is to bring the cap closer to the international benchmark of seven years, or five years in the case of the United States.
The government wants to use the funds to provide low-interest financing to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw says a consultancy group has been engaged to review and advise the government on the most appropriate way to go about doing this.
He was speaking at a Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) stakeholder breakfast forum, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
Shaw, who advised that he met with the consultants earlier this week, indicated that the group is “actively” exploring the matter and will submit reports on the outcomes.
“The first report is due in April [and] the second report by July, which I will then be sharing with the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, because accessing dormant funds has got to be a part of the landscape of finding affordable funding for small and medium enterprises… and we are serious about it,” he said.
Shaw said access to affordable financing has been identified as a major constraint to MSME growth and development in Jamaica.
“In fact, the JBDC has reported that 73 per cent of MSMEs see capital as the most needed resource for production,” he added.
The industry and commerce minister argued that in order to attain higher levels of economic growth, “we have to ensure that we get capital into the hands of our entrepreneurs at reasonable attractive low single-digit interest rates”.
“So, as we put our sights on the year ahead, we must sharpen our focus to put action to our commitments,” he said.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner