Tue | Apr 25, 2017

Is Hylton’s logistics hub a pipe dream?

Published:Monday | June 29, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Linton Gordon

Whatever view we may take of Jamaica's effort to piggyback on an expanding Panama Canal we cannot escape the conclusion that Anthony Hylton, the minister responsible for our efforts in this regard, has failed in his responsibilities.

We have been told for some time now that Jamaica will be establishing a logistics hub which is part of our effort at piggybacking on the expanding Panama Canal.

Initially, we were told that the area where the Fort Augusta female correctional institution is located was being looked at. We were then told that that area was not adequate and that the Goat Islands were being looked at.

The investment connected to the logistics hub is projected to be in the region of US$1.5 billion. Such an investment can generate enormous benefits to Jamaica and could bring the country into First-World status.

The multiplier effort of the US$1.5 billion investment in Jamaica will be increased employment and reduction of the poverty level. It could lay the foundation for Jamaica becoming one of the most technologically advanced countries in the Caribbean.

 

proposed location

 

Given the proposed location of the logistics hub, the parishes of Clarendon, St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew will all experience immediate employment opportunities once work commences in the Goat Island area.

It cannot, therefore, be denied that the establishment of the logistics hub is the most important investment project that the country is open to since the advent of the bauxite industry which started in the late 1950s to the 1960s.

With this in mind, it is difficult to understand why we cannot get a clear and understandable explanation from Minister Hylton as to the progress, if any, being made with this project.

Minister Hylton needs to be frank with himself and put the interest of the country above his personal ego. If he finds that he cannot manage the ministry, and in particular this project, then in the interest of the country, he should step aside and allow the prime minster to appoint someone else who can, and with the required urgency, get on with the project.

It cannot be that Minister Hylton will stay in the slot of industry minister and let us all fail to capitalise on this investment. Foreign direct investment is a very important aspect of our economic programme. It is our duty to facilitate and accommodate it and to impress upon the foreign investors that we are serious and ready for business.

If Minister Hylton is not able to carry out this task then he should step aside. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller owes it to the country to intervene in the matter of the logistics hub and to ensure that the best team is given the responsibility for the project.

 

step aside Hylton

 

In that regard the prime minster should, in the interest of the country, be prepared to ask Minister Hylton to step aside and give someone else the opportunity to have conduct of this aspect of our foreign investment portfolio.

However, to be fair to Minister Hylton, maybe he is working very successfully on the project but we are just not being told. For this reason, I believe we should demand that Minister Hylton provides us with information on the following:

a) What are all the things he has done towards the implementation and development of the logistics hub? Let us know what has been completed so far in this regard.

b) What are the things he is now doing towards implementation of the logistics hub? In other words he should be able to say what areas and aspect of the logistics hub are now currently being worked on.

c) What are the steps to be taken and what is the timeline for each step that will lead ultimately to the development of the logistics hub for Jamaica?

I commend this approach to the Prime Minister the Most Honourable Mrs Portia Simpson Miller. I also commend it to the Honourable Minister Anthony Hylton. If he cannot give clear answers to these simple questions, then Minister Hylton should step aside and afford the opportunity of getting on with the project to someone who is capable of doing so.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the prime minster to address this matter in a way that shows that she holds the interest of the country over and above the comrades in and out of the Cabinet.

- Linton P. Gordon is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and lpgordon@cwjamaica.com