JIS News

Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance and Planning, has said that Jamaican firms seeking to secure funding from multilateral agencies for expansion projects, must have their books and expansion plans of a high standard to withstand the strongest scrutiny.
The Minister made this statement in light of the US$105 million financing package, which Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), the parent company of Carib Cement, was able to acquire from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. Speaking at the contract signing ceremony, which was held at the Ministry’s offices at National Heroes Circle this morning (July 22), Dr. Davies said: “I would urge more Caribbean firms and in particularly Jamaican firms to have themselves prepared to enter the world stage. This is inevitable as the way of the past where a company’s expansion was dependent on knowing the local bank manager is no more.”
Dr. Davies also lauded the world class standards of Caribbean Cement, noting that, “they are a Caribbean company, who wasn’t seeking a break because it is Caribbean but was willing to compete against other rivals both regional and extra regional”.
He expressed the government’s support of the expansion works being undertaken by the company and other initiatives to increase efficiency and productivity.
Turning to environmental concerns as it relates to the company’s mining operations, Dr. Davies said, “we are going to insist on environmental standards, which obtain in most developed societies. “We will be working together in addressing some of the problems faced in terms of mining areas, not all attributed to Carib Cement.”
He announced that a joint task force was to be named to identify clearly “what are the problems so that an action plan can be developed to address the issues”.The agreement, which was signed this morning, will see TCL receiving a US$105 million loan package from the lead financier IFC, $85 million of which will go towards Carib Cement’s Expansion and Modernization Programme. Carib Cement will itself generate the remaining one third of the funds required for the expansion.
Kirk Ifill, Caribbean Regional Manager of IFC, said that, “we have leveraged the regional capability of the organization to put together a deal, that if it was done clearly as a domestic transaction, we couldn’t have gotten the terms, tenures that we got, so we really have a ‘win win’ situation where we raise funds essentially for this market on a regional basis to provide the best terms for all,” he noted.
Brian Young, Director of the TCL Group and Chairman of the Board of Caribbean Cement Company Limited, informed that the expansion would allow the company to meet this market growth while reducing operating costs, through improved efficiencies. Savings from these improved efficiencies, he pointed out, would be passed on to the customers.
He also noted that Carib Cement continued to impact positively on the community as the HEART Trust/NTA has been commissioned to train persons in various construction skills for employment during the expansion phase.
“No one will be employed without HEART certification”, Mr. Young stated, adding that 1,300 jobs will be generated, with 600 persons on site at peak periods.
The first segment of the training has been completed and 122 persons will be graduating on Tuesday, July 26.