Sun | Sep 23, 2018

PM, ministers celebrate NIF's contribution to economy at opening of Fund-owned hotel

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (centre) cuts the ribbon officially opening the new Melia Braco Village in Trelawny. Here she is assisted by (from left) Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill; general manager, Melia Braco Village, Dimitris Kosvogiannis; regional vice-president, Melia Braco Village, Alvaro Tejeda; Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Fenton Ferguson; and permanent secretary, Collette Roberts-Risden last Thursday.

Western Bureau:

Jamaica's National Insurance Fund (NIF), currently stands at $700 billion, allowing the Government to repeatedly upgrade national insurance benefits to more than 111,000 pensioners, said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

Addressing hundreds of guests at the opening of the latest NIF-owned hotel, Melia Braco Village, in Trelawny, last Thursday night, Simpson Miller said the fund was significantly impacting the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

"And creating various employment opportunities, especially for our youth."

Melia Braco Village represents an investment of US$23 million, taken from the fund and invested in the renovation of the 226-room hotel, which has provided employment to some 400 persons mainly from the surrounding communities.

However, in order for Jamaica to continue this trajectory of having its protection coverage in line with international standards, its citizens must come to recognise that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) was "not a tax" stated Dr Fenton Ferguson, minister of labour and social security.

"Rather, it is an important contributor towards a more secure future."

By the same token, he appealed to employers to make every effort ensuring they are registered and are making the appropriate deductions in a timely manner to the benefit of the workers.

Ferguson argued that growth in the NIF's resources will lead to increased benefits for pensioners and NIS contributors, now and in the foreseeable future.

15-year lease

The NIF is the investment arm of the NIS, which has entered into a 15-year lease agreement with Melia, one of the largest hotel companies in the world.

The prime minister described the partnership as a realisation of her Government's mandate to encourage and facilitate public-private sector trust, an approach, she said, is vital for the continued growth of the Jamaican economy.

Melia's entry into the Jamaican tourism sector has been touted as a vote of confidence in destination Jamaica, by both the prime minister and Tourism and Entertainment Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, who also spoke at the opening.

Melia Braco's opening, he said, comes at a time when there was "a massive wave of investment in the sector valued at more than US$500 million, the largest in the history of the tourism industry".

McNeill said today's discerning travellers were looking for unforgettable experiences and that's exactly what Melia Braco offers.

The renovation, which was carried out with the full participation of local contractors, has maintained the 'Jamaican Village' setting, with the design modelling the Georgian architecture of the nearby historic town of Falmouth.

Located right next to the beach, the hotel has been described as a small and intimate resort with big luxuries. It has two swimming pools overlooking the sea with a bar and five restaurants offering a wide variety of national and international cuisine. Free Internet access throughout the hotel, Kids' Club for fun and a Spa & Wellness Centre for unwinding.

For the resort's general manager, Dimitris Kosvogiannis, the hotel marks a new standard in the industry.

"A hotel with a passion for service. A hotel where you are the journey, where no request is out of the question," he said.