Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Growth agenda achievable ... Even though stymied by ongoing decline in some sectors

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Andrew Holness
Professor Gordon Shirley

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica has to build back an entrepreneurial class of risk-takers who will be able to see and capitalise on opportunities that are becoming available.

He further argued that persons should not allow their thoughts to be throttled by past experiences, but should, instead, be proactive in trying to improve their economic situation.

"Jamaica went through a rough period where our business class became very risk averse," the prime minister explained. "The bad experiences have made us very conservative and, I would also say, very constrained in our outlook on the future and what we can achieve."

Holness was giving the keynote address at the commissioning of the Jamaica Public Service's liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Bogue, St James, on November 11.

"I am not saying here that we must go and take reckless risk. I am saying that we must manage risk. It is in the management of risk that we are able to take advantage of opportunities," he further explained.

Holness singled out New Fortress Energy, the American company that invested US$175 million in Jamaica's LNG operations, as an example of a risk-taker that has made good use of an opportunity.

"There was no LNG here before," he pointed out. "This is a totally unexplored environment for that company, but they took a risk on Jamaica. Government mattered in that risk because the role of Government is to ensure that a businessman who is willing to take risk can operate in an atmosphere and an environment where the risk can be managed."

For his part, chairman of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, said he was happy his agency was able to do its part in ensuring that LNG is now a reality in Jamaica.

"The Port Authority of Jamaica is pleased to be a participant in this event to commemorate the conversion of the Bogue facility to the use of natural gas, an objective that the JPS and the Government have had for over a decade," Shirley remarked.

"This diversification of the type of fuel used in the production of our electricity will lead to the stabilisation and reduction in the price of electricity, which will benefit all Jamaicans."

Shirley noted that the PAJ negotiated a five-year agreement with New Fortress Energy for the lease of five acres of land at the terminal to accommodate the fuel storage facility, and also berthing spaces at the port. The agreement, he added, has subsequently been increased to 20 years.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Electricity Enterprise Team, Dr Vincent Lawrence, said the thrust for LNG was born out of the need for a cheaper and cleaner fuel option which successive governments, at one time or another, have been pushing for.

"The breakthrough came in 2014 with the agreement for JPS to replace obsolete generating capacity with a new gas-fired 190-megawatt plant and to covert this Bogue 120-megawatt plant also to being gas-fired," Lawrence said.

"This was facilitated by the Office of Utilities Regulation's 2014 rate determination, which was promulgated in January 2015, and which allowed funding for the Bogue power plant to burn gas as its fuel source. This has been quite a remarkable journey indeed."