Jamaica a leader in addressing energy needs, says Paulwell

BY COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter robinsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 07, 2013

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TOKYO, Japan — Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell yesterday shot down suggestions that the Jamaican Government lacked the will to effectively address the country's energy problems, describing the country as the pioneer of Caribbean countries in that regard.

Paulwell was responding to this reporter's questions as he and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller participated in a special reception put on by the Jamaican Embassy here in Tokyo.

"That is entirely not true," he said. "We will be seeing two additional wind projects coming on stream in addition to what the government already has in Wigton (Windfarm Limited) and of course there is a 20-megawatt solar plant that will be established by 2015. I think Jamaica is now leading the Latin American/Caribbean [region] in terms of the use of renewable technology," he said

Japanese company Marubeni Corporation owns 40 per cent shares in the Jamaica Public Service, a company dogged by harsh criticisms from Jamaicans complaining about its high cost of electricity. However, Paulwell said that a reduction of electricity prices was one of the main areas of discussion during a meeting with the Marubeni family this week.

In the meantime, Paulwell said that the Jamaican Government, like that of the Japanese, was cognisant of the effects of climate change and was moving with alacrity to minimise such. He said his trip to this country has enabled greater sharing of ideas and assistance between the two countries.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller, accompanied by Paulwell and other members of the Jamaican delegation, entered Hotel Okura with much fanfare yesterday, getting loud applause from Japanese officials and Jamaicans living here. For the Jamaicans, especially those who have been away from their homeland for years, said the visit made them feel closer to home.

In her address, Simpson Miller, without giving details, said her visit has translated into the development of programmes aimed at bolstering trade, Jamaica's economy, and technical support for the country. These will only serve to benefit Jamaicans, she said.

"Various events are being planned to mark the 50th anniversary [next year] of this significant milestone of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Japan. It provides an opportunity to deepen the dialogue at government level," she said. "We will share views on the future of Japan and discuss the outlook of increased trade and investment flows," added the prime minister. At the same time, she said that her delegation welcomed discussions with the Japanese business community.

Nobuo Kishi of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, who spoke on behalf of the Japanese Government, said that a joint statement between Simpson Miller and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will serve as a guiding principle for the Japan/Jamaica relationship.

"We are looking at our bilateral relationship from an economic perspective," he said, explaining that Japan would continue to support Jamaica's needs.

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