Dr Omar Davies, the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, has urged environmentalists and other persons who have objected to the development of Goat Islands to put forward solutions to, among other things, create jobs for Jamaicans.
"One of the things that I would love is some proposal, in addition to Mr Warmington's, as to how we should go forward," Davies said, at yesterday's Jamaica House press briefing.
Everald Warmington, the Member of Parliament for South West St Catherine, the constituency which is located closest to the Goat Islands, blasted environmentalists who have opposed the use of the Goat Islands as a trans-shipment port, saying they can all go to hell.
Davies, while not striking the same tone, said Jamaicans should not adopt a close-minded approach to the proposal, which involves a US$1.5-billion investment.
"It cannot be that there is such a mindset that the moment there is a proposal to address what we all consider to be the critical issues, that we are bombarded with the reasons not to do anything," Davies said.
In a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Davies said the Government is cognisant of the nuances which exist in achieving the balance of protecting the environment and stimulating economic development.
He said, however, that the country must bear in mind the current economic and social challenges and the urgency which is needed to secure investment for the sustainable future for all Jamaicans.
"In that context, we believe that, as an administration, we would be irresponsible were we to simply refuse to explore the possible benefits of an investment which would simultaneously create significant employment and expand the economy," Davies said.
China Harbour Engineering Company has asked the government to make the Goat Islands available to them for the building of a port and an industrial park as part of the country's logistics-hub project.
However, environmentalists have opposed the use, saying it could impact the flora, fauna and fish stock in the Portland Bight area.
Davies announced that the Port Authority has commissioned an environmental management scoping study to identify precisely the levels of interest in Portland Bight and the principal biophysical and sociocultural characteristics.