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Halting Noranda exports will be to the detriment of the people - JLP caretaker

Published:Friday | June 5, 2015 | 6:00 AM

Zavia Mayne, the Jamaica Labour Party caretaker for South West St Ann, is expressing "shock and disbelief" at the Government's attempts to bring to a halt the operations of Noranda Bauxite Limited.

The concern comes in the wake of the Government's decision to file a lawsuit against Noranda Bauxite in which it is seeking, among other things, an injunction to restrict the export of bauxite until the dispute surrounding the payment of bauxite levy is resolved.

"The decision to file suit against Noranda is wholly irresponsible, and I call on the Government to explore other forms of dispute resolution in an effort to settle this contention," said Mayne.

"Court should be a matter of last resort and I cannot see any good coming out of this court action, especially where the agreement between the parties provides for disputes to be referred to arbitration."

The attorney-at-law further added that any restraint on the bauxite company's ability to export the precious ore would cause a lockdown of the company's domestic operations, the consequences of which would be dire.

"Should the Government succeed in its actions, several persons within the constituency will lose jobs, leading to further poverty."

According to Mayne, the communities within the constituency are already suffering as farmers have had to surrender their farm lands to bauxite mining.

Mayne also criticised successive governments for their handling of the Capital Development Fund (CDF). According to the caretaker, the CDF was established for specific and particular purposes and the Government should give effect to that purpose as established by the Bauxite Production and Levy Act.

The attorney-at-law added that a core purpose of the fund is to develop and rehabilitate bauxite-mined communities and that successive governments, rather than fulfilling that purpose, have demonstrated an addiction to the fund as a means of budgetary support.

According to Mayne, the people of his constituency have got a raw deal amid reports that the Capital Development Fund has been depleted to $5.8 million despite a total of $59.8 billion being deposited into the fund since its establishment in 1974.

The caretaker stated that although the CDF has existed for more than 40 years, during which time bauxite mining has been taking place in South West St Ann, his constituency is still without running water, a hospital, proper training, and recreational facilities. He also said the constituency still has the worst roads in Jamaica.

"I am further calling for the Government to make a commitment to the people of my constituency and other rural communities that are affected by bauxite mining that the funds they now seek to collect as bauxite levy will be substantially used to develop these rural communities."