The Government is to receive technical assistance from the World Bank in preparing a master plan to take advantage of investment and other opportunities coming out of the logistics hub project.
World Bank representative to Jamaica, Giorgio Valentini, said the World Bank Group has been working closely with the Industry, Investment and Commerce Ministry over the past month and a half to determine how best to take advantage of Jamaica’s competitive edge in terms of attracting specific investments, among other things.
“The only thing to do right now is to set up some kind of an action plan under which we can help you. You’re already doing a lot of work in terms of going out and reaching people and I think that we can also bring companies over here to invest, so we are looking forward to help you with the master plan,” he stated at a recent press conference at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.
Development of the proposed transshipment and logistics hub is being undertaken by the Government in a bid to position Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increased maritime activities from the expansion of the Panama Canal, by 2015.
Mr. Valentini said that there is interest from partners from many industries to come to Jamaica following the expansion of the canal to set up their headquarters “and I think that the country now needs to prepare for it”.
According to the World Bank Representative, the project has the potential to transform Jamaica’s economy. He stated that not only will it boost transshipment activities, but also yield significant benefits for several industries such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
“So, you can become much more efficient and effective in that (ICT) and maybe become an exporter of services for ICT, but also look at manufacturing,” he pointed out.
He said that Jamaica can also take advantage of its closeness to the United States market, not just in terms of attracting tourists, but in exporting skills in medicine, nursing and teaching.
“Instead of losing the skills, maybe you can have an agreement to basically agree that you will produce the skills and export it,” Mr. Valentini suggested.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, thanked the World Bank Group, in particular, Mr. Valentini for the support and commitment to the initiative.
“You have already started to provide assistance in terms of some of the building blocks to prepare the master plan. This is critical at this stage and we will lean heavily on your expertise in this area,”
“If the master plan, the roadmap is accurate, it will ensure that the initiative has a better chance of success. The proposed assistance for the elements of the master plan, I understand, will be delivered on or before June 30,” he said.
Mr. Hylton also thanked the World Bank for providing assistance through guidance as it relates to business facilitation and more importantly, in helping Jamaica to identify sources of funding for discrete aspects of the logistics hub initiative.
The Minister said he was also looking forward to visiting with the Group in Washington in June, to further cement their collaboration.
A 16-member multi-partite fact finding mission from the World Bank Group was in Jamaica with the goal of becoming more au fait with the elements of the proposed logistics hub, and to offer technical support where needed.