Petal James, chief of branches at JN Bank says despite the many financial and social setbacks, caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the outlook for Jamaica remains positive, with several opportunities for investment and growth on the horizon.
Miss James, who was speaking at a recent virtual information session hosted by the JN Bank Canada Representative Office and the Jamaica Association of Montreal, said the country is still positioned to move forward.
“We are optimistic that those sectors worst affected, and the stock market, will all rebound. In Jamaica, even as our highest earner, the tourism industry, faces its greatest challenge in its history, there are many opportunities lurking, as aspects of the economy are buoyant,” she said.
The virtual information session was held in the absence of face-to-face meetings, due to restrictions imposed because of the global pandemic and a series of lockdowns in Canada.
Emile Spence, chief representative officer, said the plan is to host a series of monthly meetings to keep JN Bank members informed and up to date about financial happenings in Jamaica. “The meetings will be facilitated by and hosted through various Jamaican-Canadian community organisations so that we can directly connect with our customers and members,” he said.
Topics of interest, such as the various services offered by The Jamaica National Group, banking in Jamaica in the pandemic, saving in JN Bank from Canada, money transfer services, and paying property taxes through JN Bank were discussed.
Miss James, who was guest speaking at the first information session held this month, told the audience that JN Bank continues to be competitive in the mortgage market and the commercial banking space, pointing out that the company’s mortgage product offerings remain attractive for local and overseas investors.
She further noted that industries, such as construction and real estate remain solid in Jamaica, for instance as demand for commercial and residential real estate remains high and interest rates on mortgages are still low.
She further posited that tourism would rebound, adding that when it does, property owners could realise significant returns on their real estate investments.
“Beyond the construction of buildings, road improvement projects continue, with the extension of the Highway 2000 from May Pen, Clarendon to Williamsfield, Manchester, which will only further increase the price of real estate in parts of Clarendon and Manchester and the quality of your investment,” she informed.
Miss James also added that the construction of the Montego Bay Bypass should also spur development in other parts of St James and Hanover.
The development of the highway from St Thomas to Portland, has already begun to increase property values in St Thomas, she said.
“Jamaica is down, but not out, as other indices indicate that the economy is holding its own,” Miss James pointed out.
She informed that unemployment figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that although many faced job cuts and layoffs in the early months of the pandemic, figures for January this year show that the unemployment rate has improved, reducing to 8.2 per cent from 12.3 per cent in July 2020.
“The decisions of the past three administrations have prepared the country for these times and, therefore, Jamaica is withstanding the storm fairly well,” Miss James said.
She said Bank of Jamaica data for January 2021 show Jamaica’s Net International Reserves are robust with more than US$3 billion set aside to respond to shocks and remittances have increased by nearly two-fifths since the pandemic.
Miss James invited persons to visit www.jnbank.com for further information on mortgage financing and other banking opportunities.