Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Opposition cautions Gov't on profit sharing scheme with bauxite companies

Published:Wednesday | March 1, 2017 | 3:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Opposition Spokesman on Energy Phillip Paulwell is urging the Government to reconsider its policy of waiving the payment of bauxite levy to bauxite firms operating in Jamaica, noting that this could deny communities well-needed support from that source of funding.

However, Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw said the waiver was temporary and would not extend beyond a five-year period.

The Government will be giving up the bauxite levy for a profit-sharing arrangement with the bauxite companies.

Paulwell indicated that the move was ill-advised at a time when the price of bauxite was on the upswing. He said the levy was critical to the funding of various projects in constituencies where the ore is mined.

"This appearance of a fundamental change in the revenues that can be earned from the industry, I don't believe it is warranted," Paulwell insisted.

 

NO OVERNIGHT GROWTH

 

Shaw told members of Parliament's Standing Finance Committee yesterday that the administration had provided a waiver for Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) for five years.

JISCO, a Chinese-owned company, has earmarked US$3 billion for the upgrade of Alpart's alumina plant and further expansion into a special economic zone.

The finance minister said that despite the recent uptick in the price of bauxite, the industry could not regain ground overnight.

He said the Government was being creative by using the profit-sharing initiative with the bauxite companies.

According to Shaw, JISCO is about to make significant investments in Jamaica as it contemplates the setting up of logistics hubs across the country.

He said the company has disclosed that it would be establishing assembly plants in Jamaica and would be selling semi-finished aluminium products to North America and Central and South America.

With the bauxite companies poised to increase production, Shaw said the communities in which they operate would benefit directly from new jobs.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com