A COMPLAINT by Chinese company COMPLANT about the slow pace at which its work permits are being processed by Jamaica has taken Derrick Kellier by surprise.
Kellier, Jamaica's labour minister, told The Gleaner yesterday that his ministry has a responsibility to do the required due diligence on all work permits.
"In the interest of the country - security reasons and otherwise, and the protection of our own workers - we have to do the due diligence on these requests.
Following a closed-door meeting with a Jamaican delegation headed by Prime Minister Simpson Miller in Beijing, China, recently, Dr Carlton Davis, chief adviser to the prime minister, said COMPLANT was desirous of importing skilled workers for the modernisation of their sugar plants.
"I am not going to pre-judge, but what the people are saying is that they need certain technical skills and they want that to be expedited," Davis said.
COMPLANT, which has acquired a number of Jamaican sugar factories, operates as Pan Caribbean Sugar Company Limited.
Yesterday, Kellier said while he understands the need for moving with some speed and alacrity, "We can't compromise those activities that we must do to ensure the protection of the Jamaican worker and the country as a whole".
According to Kellier, for the period April 2012 to July 2013, his ministry issued 4,098 work permits. Of that number, 1,741 (43 per cent) were given to Chinese nationals.
"This is indicative of the level of Chinese investment in the country at this time," Kellier said.