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Government selling more stuff

03/09/10

Permalink 10:52:45 am, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary, News

Government selling more stuff

Its hard to figure out what exactly is the current government's growth strategy for Jamaica because the government behaves in the most random behaviour I have ever seen. First they want to sell out all the local companies and then... well they want to sell out local companies (sorry it wasn't as random as I originally thought). So in a move inspired by nothing more than what side of the bed Bruce woke up on, the government is negotiating to sell the Kingston wharves to the Chinese.

kingston wharves

This sale for some strange reason seems to be being kept on the hush as nobody has really started to speak out against it and I am kind of confused as to why. You see kingston wharves has always been an interesting part of Jamaica because it is one of the few areas that always seem to be making money and is constantly being upgraded. This is due to a number of different factors with the most important reason being Jamaica's location in the world. Essentially Jamaica is placed in golden territory because it is directly in the middle of any traders going to North America from South America (and vice versa), Central America to Eastern Caribbean and/or Europe and West Africa, and South America going to Europe and West Africa. So you see we are a central point and when you include that we have excellent quality water and excellent facilities people just want to stop here. That's the reason why in the picture above there are so many containers at the kingston wharves and this has expanded much since that picture was taken.

jamaica in the world**taken from solarnavigator.com

Essentially the wharves is a fat cash cow... and they are gonna sell it. The reasoning as given by Investment and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda is that:

Along with the slated development of the Caymanas industrial Park, St Catherine and that of Vernamfield in Clarendon, could net the country over US$6 billion. "We are actively negotiating with the Chinese to acquire the Kingston Container Terminal and the reason for that is it would make the Caymanas economic zone much more attractive

This to me is yet another example of short term profit being preferred over long term gains. The areas which were highlighted in the quote (along with tinson pen) are to be sold to the chinese so that they can build a railroad linking the areas together to help boost the economy. This is a pretty good idea because the building of the railroad will provide jobs for the time that it is being done and the new centers which will inevitably have to be built in Caymanas, and Vernamfield will also provide some more jobs. The plan also includes the moving of the Tinson Pen Aerodrome and the development of the Vernamfield airfield so that we can get more commerce going.

Now I really and truly cannot disagree with the plans laid out by Mr. Samuda with the exception of one part. Instead of selling the wharves to the Chinese so that after they have done all the construction they will be the first to profit highly from it, why not instead go to the middle east countries and china (who have both expressed interest) and ask them to invest in the project but keep the project Jamaican. If you think of the project as being a big pie, give jamaica 35% of it and split up the rest of it among all interested countries so that they get returns on their investment and we get the larger returns over the long run? I know Jamaica has no expertise in developing railways at the moment, and as was shown in everything the chinese has built in Jamaica, chances are we wont learn anything new because there will be another slew of chinese workers who will be working on the railroad.

Really I am not a fan of selling out everything. I kinda like when I can say in my proud voice that certain things are Jamaican, since we have already thrown away Air Jamaica, Carib Cement, Carib steel etc., maybe its time we slow down a bit and think about keeping something purely Jamaican for a change.

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