Ministry of Foreign Affairs to move into new building by March

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to move into new building by March

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is expected to move into its new headquarters on Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston by the end of the first quarter.

The multi-storey building, handed over by the Chinese Government in 2019, was constructed by Jiangsu Jiangdu Construction Group Company Limited, at a cost of just under $4 billion.

At the virtual press conference yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith explained that the date change for occupation of the building, orginally set for June last year, was caused by a delay in the supply of furniture, technical issues and the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“There had been some technical issues in relation to the electrical works which have been remedied, but certain furniture and fittings that had been ordered were delayed as a result of supply chain issues and shipping issues which have also been solved. Those had impacted part of the preparations for readiness at the ministry [but] those matters, having been sorted out, [we] are now in the final stages of getting the building ready for actual occupation,” she said.

Responding to a question from the Jamaica Observer about the total expenditure, Johnson Smith said the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation has oversight responsibility for the project and an updated figure should be provided in the upcoming budget.

She also announced the retirement of the ministry's permanent secretary, Ambassador Marcia Gilbert Roberts, who served the country and foreign service for almost 45 years.

“We commend her on her unwavering commitment to public service and contribution to national development, as well as her humility, professionalism and promotion of excellence as head of the Jamaican foreign service,” said Johnson Smith.

And in expressing gratitude about the facilitation of international support for Jamaica's COVID-19 response after convening the External Support Coordination Committee, Johnson Smith noted that the committee organised COVID-19 mitigation assistance valued at more than US$ 12 million.

“Our bilateral and international partners responded quickly and generously in our greatest time of need and we are deeply grateful for that critical support. Countries and organisations which contributed funding, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical practitioners, supplies or technical and other assistance include Brazil, China, Cuba, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, United Nations and its specialised agencies. Jamaica also received assistance from non-governmental organisations and private sector organisations,” she said.

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