Friday 23 August, 2019

PHOTOS: Big economic boost coming for central Jamaica - Mike Henry

Mike Henry

Mike Henry

Some major economic projects are in the making to help transform central Jamaica economically, beginning over the next few years, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mike Henry, announced in Parliament last week.

Making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate, Henry said the projects are to be rolled out in St Elizabeth and Clarendon.

The projects include the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park (JGIP) and Special Economic Zone and the Vernamfield Aerotropolis development, which are being aligned to complement and benefit from each other.

Henry, who is responsible for both projects and a number of major public entities, including the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), the CHASE Fund, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), said the two major economic projects represented developments at levels that the country has perhaps not seen before.

In St Elizabeth, Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), which presently operates the restored Alpart bauxite/alumina plant at Nain, is to lead a group of Chinese stakeholders in investing US$3 billion to develop the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone, also at Nain.

Henry said the development is projected to produce almost 4,000 direct jobs and about 30,000 indirect jobs.

In addition, a training programme is already being piloted to develop local skill levels in engineering and other technical areas, and 52 Jamaicans are now in China on a one-year training programme, courtesy of JISCO.

Minister Henry recently visited China as head of a Jamaican delegation for meetings to further the planning, development and implementation of the industrial park, and to connect with the Jamaicans in training there, whom he met and was updated on their progress and comfort so far.

The minister also announced in Parliament, that a further US$3 billion is to be spent by JISCO to upgrade and expand its mining operations and the infrastructure relative to the operations, which will further benefit the parish of St Elizabeth and the wider central Jamaica.

China trip

Henry said Vernamfield’s physical development is slated to begin in earnest by the third quarter of next year, following the completion of a number of logistics-related steps to facilitate smooth implementation with full community input and co-operation, in South West Clarendon.

He said the Industrial park development is to be aligned with the Vernamfield development, with the latter providing critical air service connectivity, especially of cargo, to the broad industrial park operations.

“Arising from my recent trip to China and the discussions which were held, I can now inform this Honourable House that the JGIP’s timetable is on schedule, with even some aspects being ahead of schedule, so we are looking good towards realising the globally-focussed industrial park and special economic zone within the years immediately ahead,” said Henry.

“And I will take this opportunity to elaborate that the JGIP is being streamlined to involve integrated development with the Aerotropolis Development at Vernamfield through transportation and industrial co-operation. This is to involve Vernamfield being integrated into the JGIP’s traffic support system, in facilitating air cargo connections to the international market,” the minister added.

He said already there are investors awaiting the start of both projects to take on major service roles within the major overall developments. For example, he said representatives of a major far eastern entity visited Jamaica since his return from China pursuing interests in spraying planes at Vernamfield, where aircraft servicing and detailing will be a significant component of the overall operations.

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