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Hylton is a performer, says Falconer .. Information minister backs cabinet colleague

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2015 | 7:00 AMDaraine Luton
Falconer

THE GOVERNMENT'S chief spokesperson is insisting that embattled Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton is of value to the country, stating that he is working extremely hard to bring investment to the country.

Sandrea Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information, came to the defence of Hylton during last week's Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister. She was responding to questions concerning the proposed $5-billion investment project in the logistics hub by Krauck Systems and Anchor Finance Group.

"I think the ministry could have communicated this whole Krauck matter differently, but we have to be careful about the pronouncements we make. Minister Hylton and his team are working extremely hard to find investment opportunities for Jamaica. We need as many investment opportunities as we can get, and I believe that we have to be careful that we don't turn off potential investors because of what we put them through," Falconer said.

business process outsourcing

Asked to provide evidence of the hard work, Falconer pointed to the business process outsourcing sector as an area that has been seeing increased investment. She also pointed to more than $54 billion in tourism investment in the last three years, some of which, she surmised, are a direct result of efforts by Jampro, an agency within Hylton's ministry, as example of the minister's work.

"Investments are not everywhere to just grab. We don't have a lot of money all over the place, people wanting to come to Jamaica. We have to work hard to attract them and to make sure that the investors who come to Jamaica feel comfortable," Falconer said.

"He has done a lot of work," the minister said, while adding that she was not in a position to list the achievements that have been chalked up by Hylton.

The West St Andrew member of parliament has been under pressure to quit his Cabinet post due to what has been perceived as costly missteps with the logistics hub initiative.

Cabinet recently revealed that it has accepted the recommendation from the National Logistics Initiative Council (NLIC) that negotiations between the Government of Jamaica and the Krauck Group concerning the development of an integrated logistics hub should not proceed at this time due to insufficient due diligence information presented by the proposed bidders.

However, the Cabinet gave permission for Hylton to continue discussions with the potential investors. The representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, who are members of the NLIC, were of a different view on the results of the due diligence process.

Quizzed about the Cabinet decision to allow the ministry to continue the talks, which has been described in some quarters as highly unusual, Falconer said the team from Hylton's ministry felt more time was needed "to give the fuller picture of the instruments, and they felt more weight should have been placed on those instruments that were provided".

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com