JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, today (July 4), signed a Euro 29.3 million (J$3.3 billion) loan agreement with Vice-President of the Commerzbank in Belgium, Jacques Nyssen, for the purchase of 100 buses for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC).
At the signing ceremony, held at the Finance Ministry’s headquarters in Kingston, Mr. Shaw noted that 50 of the Jonckheere buses, designed by Volvo and to be purchased from Jonckheere Bus and Coach N.V., should be delivered between November of this year and March of next year, and the other 50, in April of next year.
He informed that the loan has a “unique feature to it,” in that, approximately one-third of the loan or about Euro 9.7 million is interest free, and is payable in semi-annual installments over a 14-year period and the remaining Euro 19.5 million has an interest rate of 5.24 per cent, for the same period.
“We will be getting spare parts at a fixed interest rate and there is also a maintenance package and technical support with a gift package of another Euro 1 million,” the Minister said.
Belgian Ambassador, Herman Portocarero, in his remarks, said that “we have a long-standing co-operation between Jamaica and Belgium in issues of public transport, and I think this is a very important topic, because transportation is the life-blood of any city.”
The Ambassador pointed out that the co-operation not only involved transportation issues, but dealt with social aspects as well. “It’s also a much larger issue in terms of sustainable development, limiting pollution in the city and so on, and a good bus park is also an essential element in all that. So it’s not just transportation, it’s a social aspect and environmental aspect as well,” he added.
“Belgium has been involved financially since the mid-nineties, thanks to Commerzbank’s involvement….We are very proud and grateful that we can be involved in this issue in Jamaica and we look forward to keeping up the good work that we have been able to do together,” the Ambassador said.
In his remarks, Mr. Nyssen, said the bank was pleased to have provided cheap financing for an essential infrastructural aspect of Jamaica, “which helps the people, but which helps also, the Government to control the budget. I am very proud as a Belgian citizen, but also as an honorary consul of Jamaica in Belgium, to be part of that success story, which shows that when two countries really work closely together, they can do something for the people.”
Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Henry, said the signing was timely, given the fact that the fleet of buses have been depleting, citing that about 320 buses are being turned out daily, “therefore we need to see how quickly we can build that up.” He thanked Minister Shaw, the Ambassador, as well as Mr. Nyssen for their support.
The Commerzbank has provided financing for several projects, including the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre, the Spanish Town and Lyndhurst Road bus depots and several financing contracts for the purchase of buses.
Since 1996, the Belgian Government, through the Jonckheere Bus and Coach N.V., have supplied 309 buses to the Government of Jamaica, which have assisted in providing improved public passenger transport services in the Kingston Metropolitan region. These 100 buses will replace older buses and increase the capacity of the JUTC’s existing fleet.

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