Timely Implementation of Key Capital Projects Pivotal – PIOJ Head

Photo: Donald De La Haye Activities at bauxite mining and alumina production facilities.

Story Highlights

  • Timely implementation of key capital projects and reforms by the Government and other stakeholders will be pivotal to the country’s achieving projected growth of between two to three per cent for the 2017/18 fiscal year, and higher out-turns over the medium term.
  • This was emphasised by Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, at the recent quarterly media briefing at the agency’s New Kingston head office.
  • The Director General said sector growth beyond the 20 per cent anticipated for 2017/18 from the resumption of production at Alpart could be realised from the construction of a US$1-billion two-million-metric-tonne refinery at the plant, which is tentatively scheduled to commence in the final quarter of the year.

Timely implementation of key capital projects and reforms by the Government and other stakeholders will be pivotal to the country’s achieving projected growth of between two to three per cent for the 2017/18 fiscal year, and higher out-turns over the medium term.

This was emphasised by Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, at the recent quarterly media briefing at the agency’s New Kingston head office.

Dr. Henry said chief among the projects are the resumption of production and implementation of expansion works at the Alumina Partners (Alpart) refinery in Nain, St. Elizabeth, in the wake of its acquisition by Chinese entity, Jiquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), from Russian firm, UC Rusal; and road infrastructure improvements under the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP).

Dr. Henry said the resumption of production at Alpart, which got under way in early August, is expected to drive growth in the mining and quarrying industry in excess of 20 per cent for 2017/18.

This follows contraction in the sector ranging from 10.2 to 10.5 per cent for the April to June quarter of the 2017/18 fiscal year and six-month period between January and June of the 2017 calendar year, resulting from a fall-off in crude bauxite and alumina production.

He pointed out that there was an overall 15.2 per cent decline in crude bauxite production, reflecting the impact of adverse weather conditions that curtailed mining, coupled with reduced demand from major purchasers.

Dr. Henry said the lower production levels resulted in a 7.4 per cent decline in the average bauxite capacity utilisation rate to 64.9 per cent.

Additionally, he said alumina production decreased by 10.7 per cent to 426.5 kilo-tonnes. This, the Director General pointed out, resulted in a decrease in the average capacity utilisation rate at alumina refineries by 5.1 per cent to 46.4 per cent.

The Director General said sector growth beyond the 20 per cent anticipated for 2017/18 from the resumption of production at Alpart could be realised from the construction of a US$1-billion two-million-metric-tonne refinery at the plant, which is tentatively scheduled to commence in the final quarter of the year.

Also pivotal, Dr. Henry said, is the implementation of road-improvement projects valued at $116 billion under the MIDP for 2017/18.

These, he indicated, will complement work on the major thoroughfares and are expected to significantly improve the supply-chain network.

The Director General also cited port-related developments, including upgrading of the Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios, and a Montego Bay cruise and cargo development project, being undertaken at a combined cost of $3.3 billion.

Also significant, he said, will be the construction of a 190-megawatt gas-fired power plant by the Jamaica Public Service Company in Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine, at a cost of US$330 million.

Dr. Henry indicated that the facility’s construction commenced during the June 2017 quarter, and is slated for completion and commissioning in mid-2019.

Other activities that Dr. Henry highlighted include hotel construction and expansion projects, which commenced in early 2017, and other developments scheduled to get under way in the latter half of the fiscal year, which, along with projects carried out in 2016, will result in more than 2,000 rooms coming on stream.

 

He also cited the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, particularly the new $1.2-billion system being developed in Essex Valley, St. Elizabeth, as well as developments in mid-Clarendon.

Meanwhile, Dr. Henry said the administration continues to implement key reforms to drive higher growth over the medium term.

Notable among these, he said, is the labour market reform, pointing out that based on its mandate, the Labour Market Reform Commission’s report will provide several key recommendations.

These, the Director General outlined, relate to improving labour market efficiencies, raising productivity levels by introducing incentives and other inputs such as performance-based pay, addressing new and emerging issues by reviewing labour legislation and harmonising accompanying terms and definitions.

Other recommendations, Dr. Henry said, include increasing the number of trained and certified persons in the workforce through engagements such as on-the-job training and apprenticeship programmes.

“The country should continue to record economic growth in the short to medium term. It is anticipated that these developments, if implemented on schedule, will serve to strengthen the pace of growth. Greater emphasis should, therefore, be placed on ensuring that the key capital projects and reforms are implemented within the stated timelines,” Dr. Henry underscored.

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