PSOJ calls for transparency and due process in Bengal Development Plans for St Ann

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is advocating for strong adherence by Bengal Development Limited/Jamaica World LLC to the preconditions set out by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in its development plans for St Ann.

The PSOJ also called for transparency regarding the payments of performance bonds along with environmental controls including proper dust and water management plans.

It is alleged that the company was granted a third extension for the payment of an environmental bond —imposed by the prime minister — after it missed the second deadline of March 2021 for the payment.

In a statement on Friday, the PSOJ said it believes that no singular organisation should benefit from the perception of preferential treatment and exemptions from stated rules and that due process must be followed to bolster transparency and accountability.

“We believe that these protocols were crafted by capable technocrats within the sector to strike an effective balance between economic development and environmental protection,” it explained while calling for strong adherence to the preconditions set out by NEPA.

The PSOJ noted other considerations regarding this development including the potential conflict with the island's tourism product and growing resort investments which may be more real than perceived or contemplated; the surrounding residential communities which will also be negatively impacted by environmental factors; and the cost to maintain and repair the road network infrastructure due to the heightened trucking of aggregate along the North Coast Highway which is also of concern.

“Any previous steps to promote harmony between these areas, which are now both vested within the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation being led by the Office of the Prime Minister, will not be well-served if one concern over-rides the other with disregard for technical input of specialists,” it added.

On Sunday, January 9, the People's National Party also called for the National Environment and Planning Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Authority to immediately provide the country with a detailed explanation for the granted extension.

Read: PNP raises questions over third extension to Bengal Development Ltd for mining bond payment

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