Anthony Hylton, the industry and investment minister, should be careful he oversells his projects and chatter is deemed to be just so much hot air, worthy only of lifting balls.
In this regard, Mr Hylton should recall his stint in the early 2000s as P.J. Patterson's czar charged with transitioning energy source primarily from oil to natural gas and finalising deals for the procurement of liquefied natural gas. Mr Hylton accomplished little, and more than a decade later, Jamaica is still wrestling with its energy problem.
We remind Minister Hylton of these facts not to embarrass, but rather in deference to the adage that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Or, perhaps many.
So, take Mr Hylton's pet project: the transformation of Jamaica into a logistics hub for the Americas, to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate the new generation of mega ships.
For Jamaica, the idea presumes new and expanded ports, prescribed industrial and commercial zones, and the multimodal trans-shipment of goods. Mr Hylton projects that this scheme will attract investment of between US$10 billion and US$15 billion, stretched over a decade or so.
It is, in part, for the advancement of this concept that the Government is seeking buyers for its trans-shipment port on the Kingston Harbour and has invited bids for the Caymanas Economic Zone, the scheme initially floated by the former administration.
No buyers for trans-shipment port
What is clear, however, is that the Government, as yet, has no buyers for the trans-shipment port; nor does it have a preferred bidder, or none that it has shared with the public, for the Caymanas development.
The only real game in town, so far, is the unsolicited bid by China Harbour Engineering Company for the use of the Goat Islands, off Jamaica's south coast, as a port, industrial facility and logistics centre. This would be a US$1.5-billion investment.
But as Mr Hylton went out of his way to point out, the Goat Islands project does not represent the whole concept of Jamaica as a logistics centre, just part thereof.
The minister muscled up on this point partly because of the blowback from environmentalists, who not only raise ecological concerns, they belittle its prospect for actually creating jobs, doing so in terms that are far more than vaguely contemptuous of Chinese investors and their motives.
This newspaper, of course, does not share the view that Goat Islands would provide only jobs for the Chinese, and Jamaica would be merely swapping its ecosystem to build China's economy. We feel that Jamaica - with 215,000 people unemployed, 453,000 having opted out of the workforce and perhaps another half million underemployed - must take a rational economic decision on the project.
It is in this context that we are surprised at Minister Hylton's almost blasť characterisation of the impact were the Chinese to take the US$1.5 billion off the table - that it would not be fatal to the logistics project. Perhaps not.
However, until we see other people put their money on the table and are ready to get on with real business of building out their projects, what Mr Hylton has is really talk. And he did a lot of that on LNG.
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