Rescue young men from the gangs, Holness appeals to business sector
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on Thursday, appealed to members of the private sector to enhance the prospects for their growing investments in the economy by also paying attention to the social side of things, which is a key factor in helping to drive down the country's alarming crime rate.
"I am happy to hear that Kingston Wharves will be creating many more jobs. I gather that with the domestic operations that you are doing with your motor vehicles, you could possibly employ another 100 Jamaicans. That's music to my ears," Holness told the official commissioning of the Total Logistics Facility at Newport East.
"Even better if it is 100 young Jamaican males because the truth is, with our present crime situation, the main victims and perpetrators are young males. And 100 males employed means 100 males less available for the gangs to create the havoc that they create in our society."
The state-of-the-art 160,000 square-foot intelligently designed Kingston Wharves Limited warehouse housing integrated centre, which provides customer service support and Customs processing - a one-stop logistics and warehousing solution - is projected to operate 24/7 when going at full capacity. It is the single largest warehouse operating within the boundaries of the Jamaican port system and special economic zones, enabling the relocation of activities on the dock, resulting in more acreage for on-port activities. It will significantly enhance the port's multiuser capability.
Holness, who was delivering the keynote address, emphasised the importance of balance in the investment portfolio in order to truly maximise and sustain growth.
"My key message here today is that we are doing well on the economic front - it is happening. Growth is happening, and this is the perfect example of it, but we still have the social and infrastructure issues to contend with. The equity growth in Jamaica is important. We must never forget that we are still a poor country, with a large portion, of our population that is still below the poverty line, absolutely poor," he said.
"And everything that we're doing, though we're relying on the private sector and markets to work, it is not without consideration that government policy must protect, promote, and enhance the poor."
The prime minister continued: "So in building this partnership with the private sector, allowing our markets to work to generate growth, we're also very cognisant of the fact that the poor must share in the prosperity, and the best way to share the prosperity with those who are poor or disenfranchised is by giving them employment. Employment is independence in your hands, and so we support and endorse all the investment activities that will not just bring growth, but create employment."
... Logistics facility targets billions in investment
Eric Deans, chief executive officer of the Special Economic Zone Authority, highlighted the vast growth potential of the multipurpose, multiuser Total Logistics Facility at Kingston Wharves Limited, Newport East.
"The master plan, which is just now out, shows that we are targeting US$28 billion in investments over 10 years. Jamaica's annual gross domestic production is about US$15 billion. And it is realistic," he told The Gleaner earlier this week. "In the upcoming years, you are going to have many more announcements."
Deans, who chaired the Logistics Hub Task Force, went on to explain the significant potential value-added services that would now accrue to Jamaica directly as a result of the multimillion-dollar upgrade at all levels of operations by Kingston Wharves Limited.
"It demonstrates the value that we extract from the cargo that is coming to Jamaica because it is one thing to get money for storing a container when they are passing. It is a totally different thing when you start adding value. That is when we start to benefit as an economy. Our people start getting employed, we learn new skills, and we start to grow because we can now handle more things," he said.
... Jamaica will become the centre of trade and commerce in the global logistics hub
Grantley Stephenson, chief executive officer of Kingston Wharves Limited, on Thursday, told The Gleaner that the official commissioning of its Total Logistics Facility now dictates that soon, it will no longer be business as usual at the port.
"This is going to transform how business is done in warehouses now. For example, this year, we are introducing a new system that we call pre-clearance. So when your barrel arrives, we will clear it for you, advise you what the charges are, and you pay them online, and the only time you come here is when you come to pick it up," he said.
"You pay online so you don't have to deal with any harassment, any touts, with anybody. If they do come, they won't have any reason to interact with you because your thing is already set up. All you do is come in and pick up and go. We are eliminating all of that. We are taking out the headache. You can't invest this kind of money and you don't lift the bar. If you don't improve efficiency, you would have wasted the money."
Stephenson said that through the Shipping Association of Jamaica, the company had already begun its outreach programme to make the port community an integral part of the new dispensation, with a particular emphasis on inclusion of those who lived nearby.
"I want the banks to participate and facilitate in that process of transformation of the infrastructure and the economy. On the social side, we'll start to tackle poverty and crime, and then we start to truly expand at a geometric pace, our employment," he said.
"We must keep faith, we must keep positive. Jamaica is the centre of the Caribbean. It is the centre of culture, of lifestyle, and it will become the centre of trade and commerce in the global logistics hub."