Norman Manley Int'l Airport to be divested by December 2018
Alfred McDonald, senior director of commercial development and planning at the Airports Authority of Jamaica, said that the divestment of the Norman Manley International Airport should be completed by December 2018.
He told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) last week that by April 2018, the preferred bidder should be announced.
Committee member Mikael Phillips asked government technocrats, who were summoned by the committee, why the MBJ - operators of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay - was now included in the bidding process when the previous enterprise team had precluded them from the previous exercise.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Dr Alwin Hales, told the committee that the current enterprise team is guided by government policy and the "feeling to include them would enhance the chances of success of the bidding process".
Hales noted that the owners of the MBJ had appealed to the Government and expressed their concerns about having been excluded and "on that basis, after due consideration, it was decided that they would be included.
SHIFT FROM POLICY
"It's a shift in government policy and that is what would have guided the enterprise team," he said.
"There were good grounds for excluding them in the first place, but if they are included, there can be a regime in which you try to ensure that their operation is not harmful to the country," Hales said.
Committee Chairman Dr Wykeham McNeill asked if the proposed regime formed part of the safeguards that the Government would put in place.
Responding, Hales said that in negotiating the concession agreement there are conditions, consistent with the law, that would ensure that the airports operate as separate entities.
"I also want to caution us that we don't appear to be interfering in the process," Hales said.
MBJ is among eight entities selected to bid for the divestment of the Norman Manley International Airport.
The previous tender process, launched in December 2014 by the People's National Party government, was terminated in 2015 after the tender period ended with no bids from the five shortlisted entities.
That process cost taxpayers US$1 million.