JIS News

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is currently being repositioned to better enable it to fulfil its mandate.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who made the disclosure in the House on April 30, said this is being undertaken in a bid to increase revenue and reduce expenditure, through the divestment of non-performing non-core assets, and optimising the outputs of a refocused staff.

[Read the Prime Minister’s 2013-14 Budget Presentation]

Mrs. Simpson Miller was making her contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate under the theme: ‘Jamaica: Going for Growth and Development- Unleashing Our Potential’.

She noted that over the next three years, the Board and Management of the UDC will seek to: ensure sustained financial viability; plan and execute projects that support and encourage sustainable national development; utilise the assets owned by the corporation to create transformational development opportunities; and redesign the corporate structure and staffing to deliver the desired objectives in the most efficient way.

Outlining specific initiatives, the Prime Minister pointed out that the UDC has divested the Oceana Hotel to the National Health Fund (NHF), which plans to convert it into a multipurpose building for office space, entertainment and apartment units.

Mrs. Simpson Miller added that the UDC also sold its shares in Grand Lido and a property at Mahogany Inn in Negril and is expected to realise approximately $2 billion from these divestments.

“It is important to note that 75 per cent of the proceeds of sale will now be retained for the development of capital projects in the national interest, which is a departure from the previous basis of using divestment proceeds for recurrent expenses,” the Prime Minister said.

In addition, the UDC is working more closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Jamaica Tourist Board to enhance the country’s tourism product in the main tourist centres of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, she said.

Mrs. Simpson Miller informed that the UDC and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust are currently in meaningful dialogue regarding the restoration of heritage sites in downtown Kingston, emphasising that “Kingston must become a tourist centre again,” and that the “transformation has begun.”

“The private sector has signalled a real interest in becoming a part of this significant process and we welcome their participation,” she said.

[Read the Prime Minister’s 2013-14 Budget Presentation]

In the meantime, Mrs. Simpson Miller has announced that several of the 16 recommendations made in the Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report, which reviewed the period ending March 2012, have been implemented “and we expect to complete the other measures before the end of the year.”

The mission of the UDC is to fulfill its role as the nation’s main urban and rural development agency and facilitator, by effectively and efficiently assigning and managing its resources, so as to ensure the economic viability of the corporation, sustainable national development and the best quality of life for the citizens of Jamaica.

It has the core business objective of: “making development happen through the planning and implementation of comprehensive development projects and programmes.”

By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter

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