PARTNER OF CHOICE

Jamaica 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

DunnCox seeks to provide an excellent service to its clients and be a part of facilitating the legal and economic upgrades in the legal system.

John Gregory Leiba
BIOGRAPHY
John Gregory Leiba is the Managing Partner at DunnCox. A graduate of the College of Law, London, and qualified as a Solicitor since 1973, Leiba provides counsel to clients in a variety of matters including real estate, mortgage financing, security documentation for banks, and building societies. He has a wide legal experience having done mergers of insurance companies and public issues of major corporations. He previously served as the President of the Jamaican Bar Association and Chairman of the Legal Committee of the Real Estate Board and Strata Corporation, and is a member of the Jamaica Developers Association. He has also served as chairman of Legal Compliance in the General Legal Counsel and is the current Chairman of the Scouts Association of Jamaica.

Which sector is most in need of FDI in Jamaica?

Medicinal marijuana with the support of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is a sector with an enormous potential in the export market. Two additional sectors which have been growing as well are business process outsourcing (BPO) and the trans-shipment sector. With the widening of the Panama Canal, there are several opportunities for Jamaica to act as a sorter or assembler of goods for the North American market.

What are the most promising sectors for growth?

Infrastructure is extremely important, especially the road network, sewage, and water systems. These are mainly in the corporate area and are called our heritage project, as they are supposed to last for the next 40 years. This goes along with solving the traffic situation and improving the services, which would result in an increased density in housing. These improvements will allow city planners to be able to approve high-rise buildings, something that was not the case in the past. In the case of tourism, which in percentage terms may not grow as much as the other sectors, the potential remains to create the greatest increase in the number of jobs. Now, there are also expansion plans for Jamaica's two major highways, north-south and east-west, and the proposed improvement in the highway to St Thomas. These improvements would result in a highway ring around the island. A likely benefit from the improvement could be the greater utilization of our land for agriculture.

How important is it to invest and diversify your portfolio in Jamaica?

The macro developments have been vital when it comes to reducing debt to GDP ratio and ensuring low interest rates and a stable currency. It is to be noted that in the last five years, the Jamaican Stock Exchange has been the highest performing stock exchange in the world. For years, banks, pension schemes, and a number of financial institutions depended on a high interest rate regime to guarantee returns on their investments. At present, returns on deposits are low, in some instances less than 2%. It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to diversify into stocks, manufacturing, tourism, and other areas of investment. It is important to mention that we also have a strong and reliable court system, as Jamaica has been increasing the number of judges and introducing new technologies to the system. Also, arbitration is a growing area, and we have trained arbitrators in recent years, with an increasing number of arbitrators entering the job market.

What is the role of DunnCox to help companies succeed in Jamaica's business environment?

Every country is unique in its requirements for doing business. Jamaica has been trying for a number of years to reduce the red tape in doing business and improve its ranking in the global index of doing business. What we do at DunnCox is explain the difficulties that clients will encounter and guide them in the most efficient way to their objective. In a number of instances this involves interfacing with and intervening on behalf of clients with representatives of the government on a timely basis. In all instances, the objective is to achieve what is best for the client in the shortest possible time.

How is DunnCox prepared for new digital companies?

DunnCox recently embarked on a multi-million-dollar project to change to fiber optic cables and move all emails to the cloud. We are introducing new and improved technologies to be able to offer our clients greater transparency in the billing process and in our recording systems. There are many software and hardware upgrades going on at enormous costs that will push us ahead of the competition by five to 10 years.