Gov’t does not Want Full Control of Air Jamaica – Dr. Davies

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies has said that while the Jamaican Government was committed to having a national airline, it would not take back total control of Air Jamaica.
“The government does not want to take back total control, we are committed to a strong, better managed Air Jamaica, but not an Air Jamaica at any price,” he said. The Minister was responding to questions on the future of Air Jamaica in London on Friday, (November 26) at a forum on the Jamaican Economy, organized by the Jamaica National Building Society in London.
Noting that Air Jamaica had played a critical role in the country’s economy especially in the tourism sector, Dr. Davies explained that the Government was presently engaged in critical talks about the future of the airline and was looking at converting some of the debt the airline owed to the Government into increased equity.
“The Government wants to see better management, better operations and a reduction of losses. The Government is committed to the national airline,” he said, pointing out that some countries, which have done away with a national airline have been subjected to constraints and conditions of the major United States carriers.
The Minister fielded a range of questions from the large audience on issues such as the return of the railway service; the tax on pension income; the government’s debt management strategy; the country’s energy bill and the deal to import natural gas from Trinidad, as well as youth training and job creation.Making a comprehensive presentation on the island’s economic future, he said while there had been challenges, there had also been significant successes.
Dr. Davies informed that bringing inflation to single digit remained a priority while remittances continued to grow significantly with the United Kingdom accounting for the second highest amount at US$1.4 billion this year. He gave the assurance that the Government had no plans to tax remittances, as it was a steady source of foreign exchange and provided a necessary social safety net for many families.
The Finance Minister further said that although Hurricane Ivan was a Setback, the country would still experience growth. He pointed out that the tourism sector was one, which was poised for major growth and major investments with some 5,000 new rooms expected within the next five years. Dr. Davies also made note of the major expansion planned for the bauxite and alumina sector.

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