Letters to the Editor

Suggestions to build the economy

Monday, August 27, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

The focus for the Jamaican economy must now be to get the key drivers of economic growth and employment moving positively. These include bauxite/alumina, logistics, information and communication technology ICT, tourism - especially heritage tourism, sports tourism, and

agro-processing.

The bauxite/alumina sector is currently stagnant and government needs to insist that Rusal reopen the closed plants or Jamaica will bring new partners to the table to reopen the plants and invest in new energy sources where necessary.

The Ministry of Transport and the Port Authority of Jamaica must move rapidly to seek partners to develop and promote the Kingston port as the transshipment-logistics hub of the Americas. This can realise thousands of jobs in the short term as the port is now operating at far below its rated capacity.

Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) and the National Insurance Fund own significant parcels of land in Portmore that are ideally suited for ICT centres, and both organisations need to combine efforts with the private sector to develop the facilities. A prospectus to invite private partners to develop the Portmore ICT Centre with 200 - 300 thousand square feet of space as a first phase to realise approximately 2,000 to 3,000 jobs must be a priority. FCJ should also sell their existing leased space to pension funds and utilise the funds generated to develop more space for the industry.

The Port Royal Development Company must develop a prospectus for investment, including the details of the plans and all the necessary approvals to seek funding in the local and international marketplace. Other heritage and eco-tourism sites such as Spanish Town, Port Antonio, Seville and Fort Charlotte need to take a similar approach of preparing a prospectus to seek private equity investment on the local and international market.

The Ministry of Tourism must target a Latin American airline to develop a direct air link to Montego Bay and promote the destination as the shopping, meeting, convention, and entertainment hub for North America, Latin America and

the Caribbean.

The Ministry of Agriculture must undertake a parish by parish audit of products and processing facilities to identify the areas for specific assistance to increase Jamaica's presence in the Gourmet Processed Foods Export Market, developing an investment prospectus where necessary for each project identified to invite Jamaicans to invest.

The Jamaica Football Federation, with support and partnership with the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports and private sector partners, must develop and promote an Annual Americas Football Youth Tournament with the finals in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, with support and partnership with the Ministry of Culture,Youth and Sports and private sector partners, must develop and promote an annual Americas Athletics Championship to be held in Jamaica starting in the summer of 2013.

The Jamaica Netball Association, with support and partnership with the ministry and private sector partners, must develop and promote an annual Americas Netball Championship to be held in Jamaica, starting in the summer of 2013.

It should be noted that financing of each of the above projects should be done via preparing a prospectus and inviting Jamaicans locally and in the diaspora to invest via the stock market.

If all the above are undertaken in a reasonable time frame they will have an almost immediate positive effect on our economy, and in short order provide thousands of much needed jobs for Jamaicans, pointing the way to sustainable development.

Robert Stephens

Pragma Consultants Ltd

Kingston 6

rspragma@yahoo.com

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