87% support TransJamaican Highway IPO

87% support TransJamaican Highway IPO

Public Policy Unit releases new Don Anderson poll

Monday, March 09, 2020

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An overwhelming 84 per cent of people surveyed support the Government's policy of making more Jamaicans owners of existing State assets by listing them on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

Additionally, 87 per cent of those questioned agree with the move to give Jamaicans an opportunity to own Trans Jamaica Highway, the Public Policy Unit of the Growth and Opportunity Trust reported yesterday.

According to the trust, these are the findings of a Don Anderson Poll it commissioned and which was conducted among 1,114 people across the island between March 2 and 4.

The release of the survey comes just over a week after a similar poll conducted by Anderson for the RJR/Gleaner Communications Group showed that the majority of respondents were opposed to the policy privatising State-owned companies.

In its release yesterday, the trust, which resides in the finance ministry, said when the pollster asked: “Do you agree with the policy of making more Jamaicans owners of existing State assets by listing these on the Jamaica Stock Exchange?” 84.4 per cent of respondents said yes; 9.5 per cent said no, and 6.1 per cent said they were not sure or don't know.

The release quoted Anderson as saying, “It is absolutely clear that Jamaicans agree with the policy of having Jamaicans own more of Jamaica by listing State assets on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.”

The trust stated that Trans Jamaica Highway was a foreign-owned company that in 2001 started the construction of the east-west highway and owned it from then until December 2019, when the Government used a short-term loan to purchase it with the intention of immediately listing it on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

According to the trust, when the pollster posed the question: “Trans Jamaica Highway was built in 2001 and has been owned by a group of foreign investors since then. Do you support the move by the Government to give Jamaicans an opportunity to own Trans Jamaica Highway?” Some 87.1 per cent of respondents said yes, 6.9 per cent said no, while 6.0 per cent answered not sure or don't know.

In relation to that question, the trust quoted Anderson as saying: “It is clear that when Jamaicans understand that Trans Jamaica Highway was actually owned by foreign investors since 2001 they emphatically support the move to give Jamaicans the opportunity to own this major infrastructure asset.”

The trust's release also reported Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke saying, “A tremendous amount of work has gone into the Government's policy of broadening the ownership base of the Jamaican economy by listing State assets on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, allocating on a 'bottom up' basis to give preference to small investors, and reserving large amounts of the shares for public sector employees. It is gratifying to see that the public supports this in such a significant way.”

The Trans Jamaica Highway initial public offering (IPO) closed on Monday, March 2, one week ahead of the original March 9 closing date.

The IPO, which is the largest in the country's history, opened on February 17 with eight billion shares, and was upsized to 10 billion shares as a result of oversubscription.


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