Way to go, KSAMC

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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A few months ago, while discussing an article by the World Bank's vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr Axel van Trotsenburg, we renewed our advocacy of incentives that will encourage investments.

In that piece, Mr van Trotsenburg had pointed out that the National Competitiveness Council has adopted a road map to fast-track reforms to improve the business environment.

Mr van Trotsenburg had made note of that development as he commended Jamaica on its positive economic growth performance for 16 consecutive quarters.

Against that background, he argued that bringing greater prosperity to all Jamaicans will necessitate a further boost to the investment climate, strengthening of the economic and climate resilience, and more investment in people to build human capital.

At the time, we again reminded readers of a number of those types of investment-boosting initiatives in the United States, such as the state of New Jersey convincing Forbes magazine to move 350 jobs from New York with an offer of US$21.1 million in tax incentives over 10 years,

Here in the Caribbean, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines granted a 15-year tax break and other concessions to Jamaican-based firm, Rainforest Seafoods SVG Ltd.

In the New Jersey case, the state's Economic Development Agency had calculated that Forbes' move would result in a net estimated benefit to the state of US$72 million over 20 years, in exchange for investment of EC$10 million in a fish-processing facility there.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves pointed out that under the arrangement Rainforest must purchase fish and other seafood from local fisher folk. In fact, Dr Gonsalves reminded critics of the decision that almost all the concessions given to Rainforest are granted to “people who invest” in St Vincent and the Grenadines, among them manufacturers and hoteliers.

Our reiteration of this common sense approach to Government has its foundation in a resolution passed last week by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) to waive the estimated $22-million subdivision fee required of the new operator of Norman Manley International Airport in order to facilitate the continuation of major capital development works there.

As pointed out in our report, the company, PAC Kingston Airport Limited, is required to pay the fee under the Local Improvements Act, 1914, for lands reserved for the modernisation, expansion and development of the airport.

Councillor Donovan Samuels, who moved the resolution, said that the lands, covering 227.74 hectares, would be developed as well for “taxiways, aprons and other airside facilities”. He also noted that the development would diversify and enhance efficiency at the airport.

Councillor Dennis Gordon, who seconded the resolution, noted that 1.6 million passengers passed through the airport in 2018 and that the subdivision revenue lost to the KSAMC as a result of the waiver would be recovered. Councillor Gordon also argued that the development would most likely improve airlift to the airport with an increase in the number of carriers using the expanded facilities.

As we have said before, we do not advocate a give-away of the country's assets. However, incentives that drive investments, once properly managed and monitored, will bring enormous benefits to Jamaica.


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