KINGSTON — Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, says the Government has to prioritise under the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).
"JDIP, the largest programme of development investment in infrastructure (in Jamaica) has had its own issues to be addressed…because if you have 80 per cent of your roads that are deteriorated to the point of non-recovery, then no matter what you do, you have to prioritise," he said, while addressing an International Trade Expo at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, on October 10.
"We are making sure that we have the Christiana Development Road (in Manchester) completed. We're making sure that the largest bridge to be built across the Rio Grande (Portland) is being constructed, and we now have to move to the (further) development of the Mandella Highway," the Minister said.
The JDIP represents a major undertaking by the Government to significantly improve the island’s road network, enhance the quality of life of citizens, and stimulate economic development.
This programme has resulted from an innovative partnership between the Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China, and is recognised as the largest, most comprehensive infrastructural programme to be implemented in Jamaica.
The Government of China, through its Export Import (EXIM) bank, has made available US$400 million (approximately J$36 billion) for the programme of works to be effected islandwide on roads, bridges, drains and traffic systems. The programme will be undertaken on all roads, main and parochial, and will be undertaken over a period of five years.
Turning to other matters, the Minister said based on its geographic location, Jamaica presents many opportunities for international investment, particularly with the expansion of the Panama Canal, expected to be completed by 2014.
"The opening of the Panama Canal will put Jamaica in the very heart of regional trade arrangements as we tap into that vast air cargo transfer market…we are poised to deliver goods and services, two to four days earlier than anyone else," he said.
The Minister further noted that the Government has been focusing on attracting foreign investments for several large projects across the island, particularly in the area of infrastructural development.
"With investment and trade running virtually parallel on the global stage, a country can only engage in international trade to the extent of its earnings from the economic activities that are generated by the overall investments and earning among its people and the foreign investments it is able to attract. That is why the Ministry of Transport and Works is not moving to borrowed funds anymore – we are moving to economic investments, whether it be from a country or individual, because Jamaica is the place to invest," he said.
Mr. Henry cited the development of the Falmouth Cruise Pier in Trelawny, which he said, has offered the greatest growth to tourism; the Palisadoes shoreline protection and rehabilitation programme, scheduled for completion in one year; and expansion of the Port of Kingston, as some of these investments.
Staged by the Consular Corps of Jamaica, in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the International Trade Expo is being held under the theme : 'A world of opportunity is about to open up', and will end on October 11.
The Consular Corps of Jamaica was introduced in 2002 to encourage trade between sending and receiving states. Currently the Consular Corps of Jamaica has a membership of 42, which include honorary and career Consuls.
By Alecia Smith, JIS Reporter