JIS News

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Ronald Robinson, has said while the government fully understands the emotional ties between Jamaicans and Air Jamaica, it has to exercise fiscal responsibility in dealing with the country’s welfare.
Dr. Robinson made the observation while addressing a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday (February 2).
The issue of the divestment of Air Jamaica was one of several submissions made by the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, charged with the responsibility of overseeing Diaspora matters.
“For them it is a very emotional thing. This is the part of Jamaica they can touch and they literally see on their soil over there, but for us it’s not only emotional, it’s a financial issue for us and so we have to weigh it,” Dr. Robinson responded afterwards.
He also appealed to the Diaspora to give the divestment process a chance to work.
Dr. Robinson pointed to the huge financial debt of Air Jamaica, the high expenditure the Ministry of Finance had to meet on a daily basis on its behalf, on the one hand, and the infrastructure that was being denied to other Jamaicans so as to meet those obligations on the other hand.
“If people are reasonable, they will understand the position the government is taking. For us it’s a major financial issue,” he said.
He added that, in the past decade, far wealthier countries and companies have come under serious pressure and folded.
“Japan Airlines has filed for its first bankruptcy in ten years, U.S airways has just been taken over by Delta, the British Government is looking at selling British Airways, Air Italia has been sold and these are countries that are far wealthier than Jamaica and they are finding that running an airline is not an easy business,” he stated.
Dr. Robinson noted that it was important for a pragmatic approach to be adopted, pointing out that “.certainly the powers that be are not irrational and would not make a decision that is not in the best interest of the country.”
Addressing directly the call for the Jamaica Airline Pilots Association (JALPA) to be given a chance to purchase the airline, Dr. Robinson said that a credible plan must be put forward.
“Show us how you are going to run this thing. Ultimately, the company needs serious capitalization. You need to show how are you going to do that because, ultimately, if six months or a year down the road they run into trouble they are coming right back to the Ministry of Finance saying, we are about to shutdown, or they need a government guarantee to save the little piece of Jamaica that flies. That is not good accounting. we can’t do that!” Dr. Robinson said.

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