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Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie has said that several large companies in the corporate area were risking the removal of signs advertising their businesses, unless they settled the millions of dollars owed to the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) in signage fees.
According to Mr. McKenzie, eight major companies operating in Kingston and St. Andrew owed the KSAC some $38.7 million in arrears. The companies include J. Wray Nephew, Red Stripe, Money Gram, McDonalds, Burger King, Texaco Caribbean, Esso Corporation, and the Shell Company.
Based on the KSAC’s calculations beer company, Red Stripe accounts for the bulk of arrears, with $23.1 million in unpaid fees over a seven-year period for branded signs used at stores, restaurants, and shops. J. Wray and Nephew ranks as the second highest debtor with $4.1 million while Texaco is third, with $2.2 million. Fast food franchise Burger King is fourth, owing $2 million in arrears.
Speaking to journalists at the KSAC’s monthly press briefing yesterday (Feb. 8) at the Corporation’s Downtown, Kingston offices, Mayor McKenzie said the Council had repeatedly advised these businesses of their outstanding fees, but to no avail.
He said subsequent actions would involve the local authority informing the overseas parent companies of their local companies’ delinquency. Such actions would also see the KSAC “putting in place the mechanisms that will afford us the privilege to remove many of the super billboards that are erected across the corporate area, and we are not going to stop until these people understand that they must show respect for law and order,” he informed. The Mayor noted that while the KSAC was not pleased to be taking such drastic measures to have the businesses comply, “it something we are forced to do”.
He further observed that the KSAC was, “acting based on the powers that is vested in us as the local authority and we are the only ones that have the right and we are not giving up that right to anybody.” Councillor McKenzie said the millions owed to the KSAC could be utilised to enhance the environs of the capital city. “This money that is outstanding for the Council,” he said, “could go a far way in improving the social and physical conditions of the corporate area.”