The Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing will be undertaking a major infrastructure project in the amount of US$353 million.
The project, announced by Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, in his Throne Speech to open the 2013/14 Parliamentary Year on Thursday, April 4, is among several initiatives that the Government will be pursuing as it focuses on growing the economy in the new financial year.
While not providing details of the undertaking, the Governor General said it is being routed through the formal Budget process as a Capital B project.
Of the total US$353 million investment, US$300 million was secured from the China EX-IM Bank on a concessionary basis and the rest will be provided by the Government of Jamaica.
Other areas of focus in pursuit of the growth agenda, include further work on the North/South Highway; the Kingston Container Terminal; the Logistics Hub; diversification of the tourism markets; expansion of hotel room capacity and the creation of Agro-Parks.
The Governor General said work has restarted on the Mount Rosser By-pass in St. Catherine and will be completed during this fiscal year. He said that once all the regulatory approvals have been given, work will begin on the Caymanas to Linstead and Moneague to Ocho Rios segments of the North/South Highway.
“The Government is anticipating that work on both these legs will start during this fiscal year. In the medium-term, this project is expected to generate some $26 billion in nominal GDP (gross domestic product),” he stated.
The Governor General also announced that work is proceeding on the privatisation of the Kingston Container Terminal. He noted that the Enterprise Team, which has been established to guide the privatisation process, has been given the target of completing the exercise during this fiscal year, in order to allow the concessionaire ample time to initiate preparations for the opening of the widened and modernised Panama Canal.
“Technical work is also proceeding apace on the development of the Fort Augusta Container Terminal, the dredging of the Kingston Access Channel, and the Logistics Hub,” he announced.
In the meantime, the Governor General revealed that four of Government’s eight Agro Parks will commence production this year. The agro parks are part of the Government’s strategy to boost agricultural production and productivity over the medium-term.
“Special emphasis will be placed on non-traditional crops and the increased use of local produce through domestic consumption, the hotel sector and the School Feeding Programme,” he stated.
With regards to the tourism sector, the Governor General said Government’s diversification of tourism markets is already yielding new airlifts and greater access to European and Latin American markets.
He informed that greater ease of travel to Jamaica has also been facilitated through modified visa regimes between Jamaica and several countries including Panama, Russia, Colombia, Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine. “These new visa arrangements will enable Jamaica to pursue increased visitor arrivals from these markets,” he said.