JIS News

Story Highlights

  • His comment comes against the background of the government’s impending decision on Goat Island
  • The prospect for Chinese investment in the initiative is highly probable
  • The logistics hub initiative presents Jamaica with one of the most “important opportunities” to advance economic growth

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the government has to balance the necessity for projects that will advance Jamaica’s economic growth, with the need to safeguard the country’s environment.

His comment comes against the background of the government’s impending decision on Goat Island, currently being pursued for port facilities development as part of the global logistics hub, and concerns being voiced locally about the possible environmental effects.

Speaking recently, at the first of two major economic reform programme (ERP) stakeholders’ conferences at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, Dr. Phillips, underscored that development of the logistics hub initiative presents Jamaica with one of the most “important opportunities” to advance economic growth.

Against this background, he said the prospect for Chinese investment in the initiative is highly probable, stressing that “we should do our utmost to secure (this) while, of course, protecting other national interests.”

“We have to find the balance between the developmental imperatives of the country and protecting the environment. We are a fragile small island ecology. We will have to do all we can to protect the environment without going to the extreme of saying, then, (that) because the environment is so fragile, we will have no growth at all,” the Finance Minister argued.

He pointed out that the issue is not unique to Jamaica, citing a similar scenario in Ecuador whose government, he explained, had to take decisions recently regarding oil mining activities in that South American country’s environmentally protected regions. Additionally, he said the United States faced a similar issue in relation to Alaskan oil pipelines being channeled through their environmentally protected areas, as also Russia, in as regards oil production in Siberia’s protected areas.

“All of these countries have sought to find ways to both have strong economic development and to protect the environment. We will have to make the same type of decision,” the Finance Minister added.

The conference, held under the theme: ‘Jamaica’s Economic Programme – Going for Growth, Staying the Course’, is the first of two scheduled to provide updates on the ERP being implemented as a condition of the US$932.3 million four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which the administration negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It was attended by a wide cross section of representatives from private and public sector agencies and entities, and community organisations, in parishes spanning the counties of Middlesex and Surrey.

A similar forum is scheduled for parishes in western Jamaica, on a date to be scheduled.