THERE are still far too many Jamaicans who clearly just don't get it. Nobody owes us anything and foreign investors are not lining up to pump money into our economy!
The onus is entirely on us to make ourselves attractive to investors, meaning that they must be convinced that it is worth spending their money here, and not in any of the countless other countries which are all jostling to get their attention.
We are quite dismayed by the asininity of the views being openly expressed before and after the implosion of preferred bid status by US-based consortium Azurest-Cambridge to build the proposed US$690 million 360-megawatt power plant here, and the alleged challenges being faced by Energy World International, the second in line. Even people widely held up as sensible analysts are implying with great enthusiasm that Jamaica has some kind of a right to expect investors to be falling over each other to find money to invest in our energy project.
We find it quite worrisome that more of the most established traditional international investors in energy systems production are not among the bidders. What is it that they know about us? Perhaps more worrisome is that not more Jamaican entities are stepping forward, even as joint venture partnerships.
In our view, it makes eminent sense that Jamaican investors should own a piece of this potentially lucrative energy plant. It would also show that we are partners in our own salvation by putting our money where our mouth is.
That is why we salute local investment outfit Sterling Asset Management for its proactive plan to raise US$50 million in equity and debt from the Jamaica Stock Exchange for the 360-megawatt project. That is only a small part of the overall cost but, even at that, it represents a significant outlay in the context of our small economy.
And just in case there are not enough local takers, we note that Sterling boss Mr Charles Ross said the entity had intended to seek to raise the funds throughout the Caribbean, also a very sensible idea for which we commend them. We hope that the Azurest-Cambridge fallout would not scuttle the Sterling initiative. Quite apart from the dollars and cents value of the plan, there is great symbolism in what it does for advancing regional economic integration.
It may be that Jamaican companies don't have the kind of capital outlay that is necessary, but we have got to stop behaving as if there is manna waiting to drop from heaven. Investors will be turned off by the way we conduct our discourse, fearing that they could be caught up in it.
These are not the kind of issues that are resolved on talk shows or in newspaper columns. It's past time to reach for our thinking caps.