Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Government to still pursue privatisation of Norman Manley Airport

Published:Tuesday | January 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Omar DaviesMinister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies said he has instructed the enterprise team to conduct a thorough assessment and review of the transaction process.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies said the government will still be pursuing the privatisation of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) although no bid was received at the closure of the bidding process in mid-December 2015

He said that five international companies were shortlisted to participate in the bidding process for the selection of a concessionaire to further develop and operate the NMIA.

Dr Davies said he has instructed the enterprise team to conduct a thorough assessment and review of the transaction process, indicating possible reasons for the lack of bids and to submit their recommendations regarding the way forward by the end of this month, at which time he will be in a position to advise on the next steps.

However, the Minister reiterated that “this will not be a fire sale. There is no urgent imperative  to propel us to privatise the asset at this time."

Notwithstanding, Dr Davies, speaking in Parliament today, said the government’s policy remains to pursue the privatisation of the airport in keeping with the objective to introduce private sector  management and expertise to improve operational  efficiencies, mobilise additional private  sector investment in airport infrastructure, and increase the service quality standards in line with international best practices.

He said the Airports Authority of Jamaica has been proceeding with its expansion plans and will continue to do so.

“The entity is not a charge on the budget and in fact it has posted a significant increase  in  revenues  (over 30 per cent) and profits for this fiscal year to December 2015, while passenger traffic increased by five per cent over last year-to-date,” the Minister said.

As to the costs incurred to date, Dr Davies said US$1 million has been paid out as of December 2015.

The Minister also told Parliament that the North-South leg of highway 2000 is 90 per cent completed and will be opened in three phases between the end of January and February, and will be officially commissioned, handed over and tolling will commence by the end of March.

Dr Davies said that of the 1,200 acres of land promised as part  of  the arrangements  with  China Harbour Engineering Company, which is undertaking construction of the highway, 150  acres  have  been  approved  for development at Mammee Bay, St Ann for the construction of 3,200 hotel rooms and 500 housing solutions.

Design work on those developments will commence once the official handover of the highway has taken place.

The Minister said that despite the delay  in  achieving  financial  closure in the Kingston Container Terminal transaction, the concessionaire and  the  Port  Authority  have  been  working  in  a focused  way  to prepare for the handover and  the commencement of the dredging and civil works of phase 1.