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Government could pursue asset divestment via stock market

Published: Thursday January 24, 2013 | 11:58 am Comments 0
Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips - File
Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips - File
The Jamaica Stock Exchange building on Harbour Street, downtown Kingston - File
The Jamaica Stock Exchange building on Harbour Street, downtown Kingston - File

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Peter Phillips said the government is willing to explore using the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) as a vehicle for privatization of assets currently on the list of state-owned enterprises to be divested.

“There is no general policy that would preclude this. In fact, it is something that we would like to look at especially in the current circumstances,” Dr. Phillips said while addressing the eighth annual JSE conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston yesterday.

“In fact it is something that we like to do in the current circumstance and where there are adequate appetite and where we can secure appropriate return for the assets being divested,” he added.

Although the Minister did not elaborate of what he meant by the current circumstances, the government is seeking to put in place adequate measures to reduce the high public debt.

It is also seeking to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, partly to unlock much needed funds from other multilateral agencies. It is also seeking to reduce the country's high unemployment rate and return to economic growth.

Among government entities slated for divestment are the Wallenford Coffee Company, the Norman Manley International Airport, hotels and commercial properties controlled by the Urban Development Corporation, resort assets owned by the National Insurance Fund, Caymanas Track Limited and its operations, as well as its 45 per cent stake in Jamalco alumina operations, which it owns through its whole-owned company, Clarendon Alumina Partners.

marcella.scarlett@gleanerjm.com

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