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Looking to China - some stakeholders think Chinese could help develop Lucea

Published:Tuesday | April 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Work being done on a roadway in Lucea, Hanover.

Despite challenges posed by a language barrier and other cultural differences, business stakeholders in Lucea, Hanover, are making a bold effort to get members of the Chinese community to play a greater role in the development of the parish capital.

Nerris Hawthorne, president of the Lucea Development Initiative, believes the time has come for the Lucea business community to do whatever it takes to get the Chinese business operators in Lucea to become an integral part of the drive to reposition the seaside town into an economic centre of note.

"It is a challenge, and a very difficult one," said Hawthorne. "We need to move swiftly just to let them see what is in it for them, because, if the town is developed and the place is clean, they, too, will benefit. I don't think it is unmanageable. We have not tried hard enough."

Kelvin Hall, president of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, is hoping efforts to engage the Chinese will get better with time. "We have been speaking with the Asian population to see how best we can engage them, and get them to be a part of our planning. There is a language barrier, which creates a level of reluctance, but we will continue the dialogue," said Hall.

EYES ONTHE EAST

The Government of Jamaica has identified investors from China and other eastern nations as key to the revitalisation of the local economy, and there appears to be a concerted effort to attract additional investment, despite criticism from local interest groups.

However, while pointing out that he was not one to resist the intervention of investors, Dr David Stair, custos of Hanover, said the town is not seeing much benefit from the influx of Asian businessmen. In fact, he is of the view that his fellow Hanoverians are expecting too much from such discussions.

"You can't force them to give back to the society because, I guess, like most of their compatriots around the world, the money goes back to their country. I don't think most of them stay here long enough to integrate into the society. They come, they do business, they ship out their money, and the cycle continues."

Stair said there needed to be a system in place to ensure that the Chinese, who do business in places like Lucea, are fully compliant with local laws and regulations, in terms of paying requisite statutory deductions and fees.

"What we need to do is ensure that whenever they come here to do business, whatever structure they put in place, we must be able to benefit from it," said Stair.