'Realtors not in the business of development'
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: THE BUSINESS Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) has described as "unfortunate and misleading" recent comments attributed to the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ) and Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), noting that they should either substantiate their claims or retract for the good of the sector.
Carlene Sinclair, president of the RAJ, in response to a call by the Government for the creation of sufficient business-ready office space to support the growth of the information communication technology/business processing outsourcing (ICT/BPO) industry, argued that local developers and investors are apprehensive about supporting such projects because it may be bad for business; while Francis 'Paco' Kennedy, president of the JCC, attributed the trepidation to, among other things, high construction costs and the absence of buildings that are designed with an open-office system.
"The recent unsubstantiated discourse, primarily in the media, no doubt has impaired Jamaica's profile in the global marketplace," said Yoni Epstein, in a recent release to the media. "They (Sinclair and Kennedy) need to tell us the way they feel and substantiate such criticisms."
"Jamaica's ICT/BPO industry has undergone a rigorous transformation and has achieved several successes in eradicating barriers, deepening collaboration with several multinational partners and partnership with the Government, to develop a growing sector," Epstein continued. "As a country strategy; Jamaica continues to make commendable strides in developing the BPO sector and showcasing itself as a viable outsourcing destination. We need to expound on this foundation and focus more on building Jamaica for Jamaicans and less of Jamaica for me."
When contacted for a comment, Kennedy advised The Gleaner that he was hospitalised. However, Sinclair, who stepped down as head of her association at the annual general meeting last Thursday, is standing by her claim.
"I am just the voice of the realtors. We sell and rent, we are not in the business of development ... we are in brokerage," Sinclair told The Gleaner. "I agree the ICT/BPO sector can boost the economy, but if we are saying that there is a shortage, we need to look at why developers are not jumping at this glorious opportunity."
"If it is such a lucrative business, then there should not be a shortage ... if there is more space, it means more business for us," Sinclair added.
However, Epstein argues that none of the players who entered the local market have left, in fact, he said, most have expanded. And, with the state, through the Factories Corporation of Jamaica, seeking to add another 750,000 square feet of space over time, and the continuous build out of ready-to-use facilities at Barnett Tech Park in Montego Bay, the sector is expected to boom.