The west not maximising its potential –Professor Williams
PROFESSOR DENSIL Williams, the executive director of Mona School of Business & Management, has said the absence of a proper transportation link between the metropolitan area and western Jamaica is negatively impacting economic development in the west, especially against the background that the western region's service sector is key to economic growth.
"We have roughly 17 per cent of the population in western Jamaica, and the Kingston Metropolitan Area would be about 53 per cent, so both areas are responsible for about 70 per cent of Jamaica," said Williams, while giving the keynote address at the recent inaugural Western Jamaica Economic Forum held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall.
"If you have that critical mass, you really need to do something about it, and the most important signal is a proper transportation link," the professor said. "I should be able to move from Kingston to western Jamaica in one hour; we have to show that link if we are going to get that economy going."
"Where I am going with this is that we need the thinkers in western Jamaica to get the thinkers in Kingston, who form policies for Jamaica, to start thinking seriously about creating special economic zones within the western hemisphere," added Williams.
According to Williams, for special economic zones to be effective in the region, all four western parishes would have to work together.
The professor said with all the advantages created by Jamaica's location to north America, western Jamaica should focus on the service industry.
"We are positioned to give great services to the rest of the world, we should now position our economy to eke out some of the big money that is out there in the rest of the world," Williams said. "... so I am arguing strongly for western Jamaica because we have a lot of infrastructure that is already facilitating the services that can be offered to the rest of the world."
The forum was organised by the St James Parish Council with the aim of empowering local groups within the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland, to develop and implement an economic model to improve their way of life.