JIS News

A Casino Gaming Bill is to be tabled in Parliament next week Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced last night. Mr. Golding told a Town Hall Meeting at the Montego Bay Civic Centre that Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, will table the Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, when the House meets again.
The Prime Minister, in response to a concern raised by Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair, about the delay in opening up the tourism industry to casino gaming, acknowledged the delay but said that there was good reason for it.
“We spent a long time preparing the draft, because we wanted to ensure that every sentence was right: Every ‘t’ was crossed and every ‘I’ dotted,” he said.
He said that the Government was hoping to have the Bill debated in July and passed into law, as there were at least two investments awaiting the legislative framework.
He said that the Government has already given an undertaking to two companies, that it is prepared to consider formally their applications for casino licences- one for Montego Bay and one for Trelawny(Harmony Cove).
But, Mr.Golding warned possible investors, “it don’t come cheap in Jamaica.”
“Before you can get a licence, you have to give us a bankable guaranteed commitment that you are going to build new hotels, with not less than 2,000 rooms and an investment of not less than US$11/2 billion,” he said.
“We want hotel rooms, we want employment, we want to be sure that when you get a licence you are going to use that licence to bring in thousands more visitors to Jamaica. That is how we are going to continue growing the tourism sector,” he added.
He said that the Government was not prepared to “wait on the (economic) storm to pass) before starting to “clean up the place and get busy to work.”
He said that the global crisis has both a beginning and an end and, and Jamaica must be ready that once it has blown over it is ready to go.
“We must be prepared to stand on our own two feet, and we must be prepared to build a future, to make this country a great nation,” he said.
This was the Prime Minister’s third Town Hall Meeting with the public to discuss the implications of the 2009/2010 Budget and the current global economic crisis. The Montego Bay Civic Centre crowd overflowed onto the sidewalks outside, where hundreds had to watch from a screen provided by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
Following brief speeches Mr. Golding and his team answered questions from residents of western Jamaica for about two hours. Included in the team were: Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw; Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang; Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett; and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, Clive Mullings, as well as Mayor Sinclair.

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