Banking executive calls for increased public/private partnership in Montego Bay
President and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica Limited Audrey Tugwell Henry addressing the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Annual Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, Saturday night.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — President and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica Limited Audrey Tugwell Henry is calling for the forging of a strong public and private sector partnership to respond to any ‘mass emergencies’, or other issues which may arise in the city of Montego Bay.

Tugwell Henry, who highlighted the growing tourism arrivals in Montego Bay, expressed apprehension over the resort city’s ability to respond to natural and other major catastrophes.

“We need to have a robust public emergency response to fire, medical and policing eco-system that can respond to mass emergencies such as earthquakes and, God forbids, airline crashes or flood or storm surges. We need this eco-system that can respond and mitigate the risk of death and destruction in the face of major catastrophes,” said Tugwell Henry in her keynote address at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (MBCCI) Annual Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre Saturday night.

“Public/private partnerships are key to addressing debts and preventing degradation of living standards and low economic growth in cities. Public/private partnerships are often overlooked as most people tend to consider our financial and economic fate as the sole purview of Government and public sector,” added Tugwell Henry.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Oral Heaven presents an award to Gloria Henry on Saturday night at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Annual Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

She noted that it is estimated that the world’s urban population is set to increase sharply and argued that Montego Bay is among those cities expected to experience an uptick in its population.

The United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has projected that by 2050, two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centres.

“Owing to both demographic shifts and overall population growth, that means that around 2.5 billion people could be added to urban areas by the middle of the century,” the UN report said.

And Tugwell Henry has argued that this signals that there is significant work that must be done to manage the growth of our cities, including Montego Bay.

“There is need for leaders to plan how they will accommodate this growth and how to provide services for the citizens living in cities, including infrastructural development, affordable housing, healthcare, education systems and childcare, to name a few.

“Unplanned rapid city growth often results in degradation of living standards. And therefore planning for city growth is critical, not just for business leaders, but for all Government,” argued Tugwell Henry.

She added that one of the most significant negative outcomes of unplanned growth is that it gives rise to slums and create a nest for crime and violence which can potentially undermine growth and development even in the presence of high levels of entrepreneurial investment.

She, meanwhile, charged the MBCCI to, among other things, partner with the Government to arrest the crime monster.

“I implore the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry to...take specific, deliberate, consistent and targeted steps to reduce the incidence of major crime in this city,” Tugwell Henry said.

“I implore the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry to work with its members on an aggressive growth strategy to impact Jamaica’s GDP [gross domestic product] above the current levels. We are merely at the tip of the prospects of growth.

“And I also implore the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce to establish strategic plans and smart goals to plan for the expansion of the growth of the city to ensure that the growth is sustainable and beneficiary to all stakeholders,” said Tugwell Henry.

During the evening’s ceremony global services guru Gloria Henry was inducted into the Chamber of Commerce’s Wall of Fame.

The reigning internationally-recognised Nearshore Executive of the Year was honoured alongside Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, chairman of Summerfest Productions, promoter of Reggae Sumfest, Josef Bogdanovich and Collette Barns, who were presented with the President’s Award.

Special recognition was also made to the late Jasmine Tomlinson Brown, who served the Chamber of Commerce diligently after her retirement from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, before her passing in August.

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

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