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5,000 jobs to come from parliament building, downtown project, says UDC

Published:Friday | August 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

There will be jobs for approximately 5,000 persons over the eight-year life of the Government oval and downtown development project, that continues to have local professionals questioning the administration's decision to sign a deal with a Chinese company for the preliminary works.

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the project managers, said though the project is still in the planning stage, their determination of the number of potential workers is based on data from similar projects.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness signed a 12-month non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) in March with China Construction America, South America Division (CCASA) to cover the "preliminary master planning stages". It does not include the design and build aspects, the UDC said in a statement yesterday.


Withdraw the MOU


The Construction Industry Council has argued, though, that the Government should withdraw the MOU on the basis that it is a sole source deal stemming from the company's unsolicited offer, in breach of government guidelines. The group has also said the concept work that the company will do could have been done locally.

According to the MOU, Jamaica and CCASA held preliminary discussions and the company expressed its "willingness" to undertake the development "and has the capacity to complete the project".

In the UDC statement, the agency's general manager, Dr Damian Graham, sought to reject the council's argument, saying the MOU, which guarantees CCASA US$1 million, "does not limit local involvement".

... MOU is non-exclusive, non-binding

"The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) among the UDC, (Urban Development Corporation) CCASA, (China Construction America, South America Division) and the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is non-exclusive, non-binding, and for limited time. It still allows local entities to make their own, separate, stand-alone arrangements with the UDC for the provision of similar master plan completion services," UDC's general manager, Dr Damian Graham, said.

He added that "the MOU is limited to providing augmented technical capacity to develop the master plan, or, put another way, the detailed terms of reference that will govern the entire scope of work for the project, and doesn't include detailed design or building".

The eight-year project will include the Government Oval at Heroes Circle in Kingston, which will include a new parliament building and space for 17 government agencies and ministries. There will also be several projects in downtown Kingston.

All these projects, Graham said, will be at no additional cost to the Jamaican taxpayer as the contracts with the winning bids will provide the immediate financing within their scope.

"The Government Oval Campus project is self-financing in the long-term with respect to the net impact on the GOJ budget. The UDC-budgeted development costs, estimated to be well below US$1 billion, will be utilising the pool of funds currently under expenditure by the GOJ for the maintenance, lease, rental and operation of disparate governmental buildings," Graham revealed.