Law reform needed for hub success
Donovan C. Walker, Contributor
The Jamaica Logistics Hub initiative has been described as "...the major plank of the Government of Jamaica's growth strategy over the next 15 years, and all government agencies are geared towards modernising their processes to improve the experience of doing business in Jamaica. ..."
To better facilitate the Government and people of Jamaica, as well as the investor partners, in the various initiatives that ought to comprise a properly working and high quality logistics hub, there will need to be urgent technical changes so as to create the proper legal framework and business environment for the operation of the various hub activities.
Therefore, in most logistics hubs, certain key legal agreements and business arrangements have to be put in place.
These will require law reform (in the case of legislative changes to update our laws) and detailed contracts that define the scope of the project and sets out in detail the intent of the transactions contemplated within that project.
Listed below are but some of the key law reform and policy issues that will be essential to modernise Jamaica's legal infrastructure as well as some of the contracts/arrangements that will be necessary to establish and operate a properly running logistics hub:-
A. SOME LAW/POLICY REFORM ISSUES
i. Amendments to the Port Authority Act.
ii. Amendments to the Arbitration Act - to modernise and update our old Arbitration Laws and introduce modern methods and rules of Arbitration.
iii. Updating the Jamaica Free Zones Act.
iv. Updating the Customs Act - to modernise data collection and customs issues.
v. Updating the Income Tax Act.
vi. Updating laws to facilitate ease and uniformity in regulating the various components of the logistics hub (so as to facilitate air, rail and sea linkages).
vii. Updating and providing a range of concessions to investors to facilitate and encourage investments.
viii. Establishment of special economic zones.
B. SOME LEGAL AND BUSINESS AGREEMENTS
i. Comprehensive contracts establishing the relationship between the investor and the Government of Jamaica - for example, a concession agreement or a public-private partnership agreement.
ii. Operating and management agreements.
iii. Power supply contracts.
iv. Specialised development and construction contracts (such as engineering, procurement and construction contracts or turnkey contracts).
v. Contracts relating to human resources such as Employment Contracts.
vi. Management Contracts and other service contracts.
vii. Confidentiality agreements.
viii. Supplier agreements.
ix. Contracts by and between various investors in the logistics hub.
x. Contracts relating to real estate, such as leases and land sale agreements.
xi. Contracts relating to intellectual property, such as software licenses and development contracts.
xii. Contracts relating to project finance, securities and insurance.
The above only serves to provide a brief snapshot into the complexities/variety of documentation and regulatory/law reform that will be required to successfully establish projects within our fledgling logistics hub.
If done properly, the proposed model can be a game changer for Jamaica by providing well-needed investments, job creation, economic growth, and prosperity for our country, the investors and the Jamaican people.
Donovan Walker is the president of the Jamaican Bar Association and partner in the law firm Hart Muirhead Fatta.firstname.lastname@example.org.