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Cable & Wireless head wants a more investor-friendly Jamaica

Published:Saturday | September 6, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Phil Bentley, CEO of Cable & Wireless Communications, addresses journalists at a press conference held at the LIME corporate offices in St Andrew yesterday .-Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The Portia Simpson Miller-led Government is being encouraged to urgently move to make Jamaica more investment friendly.

The appeal came within the context of the unprecedented investment of US$250 million in the local telecoms industry by Cable & Wireless Commu-nications (CWC), LIME's parent company, as part of a US$1 billion financial injection in the region.

CWC Chief Executive Officer Phil Bentley met yesterday with Simpson Miller and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell to highlight the need for a more friendly investment climate.

Bentley later announced that Jamaica stands to benefit from a US$250 million investment, of which US$70 million has already been pumped into upgrading LIME's broadband facilities.

He said that the region, with a comparatively low smartphone and broadband penetration levels of 30 per cent each, compared to 100 per cent in the United States and Europe, was the focus of the telecoms conglomerate as it was poised for rapid growth.

Bentley stressed that the sums being spent should not be seen as a pot of gold, but as an investment with the intention of getting returns.

"We like the people, we like the market because it represents a real opportunity for growth," he said. "We think that there are real opportunities for growth in these markets."

Added Bentley: "On top of that, it could get the economic growth in the Caribbean going."

Asked whether he had any specific expectations from the Government that influenced his meeting with Simpson Miller and Paulwell, Bentley said: "There are always things that can be done to encourage investments at a faster pace."

Bentley disclosed that he would also be meeting with the Office of Utilities Regulation.

"There are always things that we think that Jamaica should be doing to create a leveller playing field to promote competition that can be addressed," he said.

He said he was also keen on ensuring that the local environment is conducive to investment. Once this is accomplished, we are happy," he declared.

Added Bentley: "You don't want to look at the telecoms industry as just a pot of gold to be taxed and charged for the spectrum of things, because that's really an impediment to the investment."

He emphasised that there is an urgent need to encourage telecoms investment to ensure that Jamaica benefits from additional (economic) growth and development that facilitate a more efficient, robust and competitive industry.