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Port Authority to spend $2.8b on BPO

Published:Monday | April 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Professor Gordon Shirley, president of the Port Authority of Jamaica.<\n>

The Port authority of Jamaica (PAJ) plans to invest in call-centre facilities in Portmore and Montego Bay costing more than $2.8 billion.

Newly released government documents indicate that the investment will include $1.1 billion of capital expenditure on a 63,000-square foot building at the Montego Free Zone and $1.7 billion at the Portmore Informix Centre in St Catherine.

The Port Authority, headed by Professor Gordon Shirley, expects to finance these projects through loans, according to the Fiscal Policy Paper 2016-17. Call-centre operations, otherwise known as business process outsourcing, is the second largest capital expenditure programme on the Port Authority's schedule this year, the document indicates.

"PAJ plans to focus on developing its core infrastructure assets in its key business segments," said the fiscal paper tabled in the House last week by Finance Minister Audley Shaw.

"This will result in substantial capital investments in cargo and cruise at $1.7 billion and BPO at $2.85 billion, as well as harbours and port services at $3.24 billion. In addition, the PAJ will continue its pursuit for the establishment of a Port Community System at $352 million with the collaboration of other stakeholders in the industry."

The harbour and port services involve the renovation of Reynolds pier at some $1.8 billion and the Kingston Container Terminal quay wall upgrade at $1.4 billion. Calls to Port Authority for more details on its investment programme were unanswered up to press time.

Last year, the PAJ announced plans to begin preparatory work to possibly invest in the BPO sector, but no figures were reportedly divulged at the time. The Government views BPO as a key source of job and wealth creation. The sector represents some 14,000 jobs.

The PAJ is finalising an agreement with a French consortium to operate its largest port, Kingston Container Terminal (KCT), under a 30-year concession that should allow the Jamaican agency more time to manage BPO activities.

Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited is the vehicle being used by the CMA CGM-Terminal Link consortium to operate the port. The concessionaire is expected to invest approximately US$509 million over two phases of the concession, with the possibility of a third phase to be

negotiated. CMA CGM's latest financials have not yet included KCT in its operations.