Monday 20 May, 2019

Bauxite Institute to get $1 billion from CDF over 5 years

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) has received nearly $1 billion in budgetary support from the Capital Development Fund (CDF) over the last five years.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, during a sitting of the House of Representatives.

The minister was speaking during a routine debate, which saw the House approve the withdrawal of $223 million from the CDF to provide budgetary support to the JBI for the remainder of the 2018/19 financial year.

During the debate which saw Members of Parliament questioning whether communities have benefitted as much as they could from 60 years of bauxite mining in Jamaica, there was consensus that it was time to seriously examine the issue.

In his contribution, Central Manchester MP, Peter Bunting, lamented that although the Bellefield High School sits on a hill overlooking the Kirkvine plant, the school is one of those that still remains on a shift system as the infrastructure is woefully lacking. He also told the House that the nearby Bellefield Primary School is without piped water. The Kirkvine plant has been closed for about eight years.

South Manchester MP, Michael Stewart, in a private members motion made an appeal for mining companies to better assist communities in which they are located.

He pointed to the crumbling infrastructure, including houses in his own constituency, the respiratory problems suffered by residents and acres of land that can no longer be farmed as the mined out sections were not properly restored.

MP for St Ann North West, Dr Dayton Campbell, also pointed to problems faced by his constituents as a result of bauxite mining including respiratory issues and the lack of piped water although one of the deepest wells in the country is located in his constituency.

For his part, the MP for Clarendon South Western, Noel Arscott, lamented that much of the flooding taking place in his constituency is directly attributable to bauxite mining.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton who is MP for St Catherine West Central said he intends to meet with the various stakeholders, including representatives of the mining companies as he anticipates that mining will soon get underway in his constituency in a serious way.

In moving the Withdrawal Order, Dr Clarke noted that the $223 million that was approved represents 87 per cent of the total required by the JBI for operating expenses and capital expenditure for the fiscal year.

“The remaining funding needs are met through interest income, management fees, and technical services offered by the institute to bauxite companies. We're committed to only withdrawing from the Capital Development Fund, in line with the Bauxite Production Levy Act,” Dr Clarke said.

The fund was established under the Bauxite Production and Levy Act of 1974 when the bauxite production levy was imposed, and the proceeds of the levy directed to the CDF.

The JBI was established by the Government in 1975 as a regulatory, planning and development agency to manage the sovereign aspects of the Government's participation in the bauxite/alumina industry. It is funded by levies from the bauxite industry.

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