JIS News

The Kingston Free Zone recorded a profit of $30.5 million from the rental of its warehousing and factory spaces last year.
It also contributed some $33.3 million (US$540,000) in foreign exchange to the Jamaican economy between the April and December period of 2004.|
This was disclosed by Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, during her contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate, on Tuesday (May 24) at Gordon House.
She said that in addition to the money generated by the Free Zone, its size was significantly reduced as a result of the demolition of 300,000 square feet of warehousing and factory space, as a result of the Port Authority’s expansion programme, which began in 2003 and continued through 2004.
The Minister pointed out that the Kingston Free Zone had achieved 100 per cent occupancy rate up to October of last year. However, she noted that with the closure of the Antonio Group of Companies in January of this year, the occupancy rate fell to 56 per cent.
Turning to the Montego Bay Free Zone, Mrs. Assamba said during the course of the year, the zone experienced an increase in employment due to a net increase in jobs in the call centre/data processing/information technology area.
However, there were setbacks toward the end of the year for the Free Zone as well. She pointed out that two companies, Sportswear Apparel Manufacturing and Jamaica Reservations, closed their operations on the site, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs, and impacted negatively on the government’s employment figure.
The Minister noted that there were positive changes on the horizon as total employment as at March 1 was 3,777 persons, with 92 per cent of them being employed in the information technology area.
Outlining other achievements of the free zone, she said up to March of this year, there was a 94 per cent occupancy of office space at the site; the free zone has realised $28.8 million in year-to-date profit; and it has generated $34.5 million (US$560,000) in foreign exchange earnings.
Mrs. Assamba pointed out that plans were far advanced for the conversion of 69,000 square feet of factory space into office space by mid-2005.

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