Thu | Nov 22, 2018

Phillips: Ja first - PNP leader wants local expertise to play key role in redevelopment projects

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

It is not clear whether it was intended to copy the phraseology 'America first' used by United States President Donald Trump, but Dr Peter Phillips yesterday coined the Jamaican equivalent, declaring that it should be "Jamaica first" when it comes to using expertise to redevelop downtown Kingston.

Phillips said over the past decade, Jamaican participation in the construction industry has been shrinking.

"Some of this occurred during our time at the wicket, but the evidence is even clearer now.

"It cannot be that the Jamaican construction industry - our architects, our engineers, our contractors who design and built the National Stadium, the Jamaica Conference Centre, New Kingston, the Bank of Jamaica building, Scotia Centre - are now being told that in order to redevelop downtown Kingston and construct the new Parliament building, we have to get foreign expertise to design and build. That is not going forward; that is moving backward," said Phillips.

Addressing the PNP's 79th annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston, Phillips called for a review of the policies in the construction sector, noting that a new PNP administration would reserve preferential treatment for Jamaican enterprises in the sector.

While making it clear that the PNP welcomed foreign investments, Phillips said his party would encourage foreign investors to partner with local firms. "We don't want to be second class in our own land."