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Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill is urging the private sector as well as non-traditional maritime interests to become more involved in developing Jamaica’s maritime industry so as to position the country as the next world maritime centre.
“The vision of Jamaica as a shipping centre promises much for economic growth and development,” the Minister said. “The government stands ready to do its part in terms of policy and legislation. The vision requires a synergy of the private and public sector,” he asserted.
Minister Pickersgill, who was delivering the keynote address at the two-day IMO Zelus Shipping conference, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston from November 10 to 11, pointed out that the government had a vision to make Jamaica the next world maritime centre, a vision, that once realised, would greatly benefit the country’s economy.
“The immediate benefits to the economy from the other components of the shipping centre stem from foreign exchange earnings from freight, cargo handling, premiums, fees and other remittances,” he said.He continued, “additional benefits to Jamaica will arise from employment created directly and indirectly as a result of shipping activities.”
The Transport Minister pointed out, that while the government would “continue to strengthen the framework to guide Jamaica to become the next world maritime centre,” to solidify this vision, all sectors of society must get involved and grasp opportunities in the non-traditional maritime areas.
“There are areas on the shipping side that have room for expansion and that we see as profitable investments for the private sector. Areas such as ship management, ship brokering and chartering, dry-docking are among the possibilities for allied businesses,” he outlined.
Citing examples, Mr. Pickersgill pointed to the new roles that members of the legal fraternity would be asked to assume, noting that some work was already being done in cooperation with the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.
“Lawyers will be required to act as corporate agents for the ship owners, and/or their attorneys, provide opinions on registration, mortgage arrangements and their enforceability in Jamaica and indeed, the recognition and enforceability of foreign judgments in Jamaica; general legal advice in matters as to the status of registered ships; arrest of ships and scrutiny of documents,” he explained.
On the other hand, the insurance industry will be required to provide insurance services in areas such as hull and machinery, cargo and protection and indemnity. “With the projected growth in ship registration, yachting and crewing, tremendous scope exists for insurance to be placed in Jamaica and grouped for re-insurance abroad at better rates for all concerned,” the Minister said.
In addition, financial institutions stand to benefit from providing loans and other financing for ship owners.
Mr. Pickersgill then referred to a 2004 study commissioned by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean on yachting in the Eastern Caribbean. This study confirmed that the yachting sector could be a significant contributor to the economy of a country through employment and the provision of a number of technical services ranging from mechanical and electronic repairs to welding, woodwork, fibreglass and even paintwork. However, he noted that this could not be achieved without the requisite investment.
Investors were therefore challenged to take the initiative and explore these and other options. “We have all got to go out on a limb sometime, because that is where the fruit is. There are risks and costs to a programme of action, but they are far less than the long-range risk and costs of comfortable inaction,” Minister Pickersgill urged.