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Phillips says Ja needs Goat Islands development

Published:Saturday | February 22, 2014 | 2:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Finance Minister Peter Phillips is imploring the public to take Jamaica's push towards becoming a major player in the global logistics arena seriously.

Speaking at a town-hall meeting put on by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation Wednesday night, Phillips said the proposed logistics hub should not be underestimated as an important pillar in the country's economic transformation.

"People talk about the logistics hub as if it is one place. That's not how I look at it [and] that's not how you should look at it," he told the gathering.

He said the country should be seeking to take advantage "of a gift bestowed by the Almighty, which is our geographic space".

Even as he extolled the virtues that Jamaica has that would make it ideal as the fourth node among global logistics hubs, the pleadings of environmentalists against the use of the Goat Islands as a trans-shipment hub were not lost on him.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS

Phillips said while it is important to protect the environ-ment, this must be weighed against the economic benefits that may be accrued from mega-projects.

"I think we can both protect the environment and protect the future of the human beings in Jamaica by using those islands in an appropriate way," he added.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently warned the Government about using the Goat Islands, which are located in the Portland Bight Protected Area.

However, the finance minister said the greatest threat to the environment is poverty.