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Gov't not selling Kingston Container Terminal below value - Davies

Published:Friday | May 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

DESPITE JAMAICA having told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it will undertake several initiatives in order to capitalise on the expansion of the Panama Canal, Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies said on Wednesday that no dictate from any external entity will cause the Government to sell the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) below its value.

Stressing that there will be no fire sale of the asset, Davies said this has been made clear to the IMF.

"We are not going to be off-loading an asset such as the KCT to satisfy any demand; there will be no fire sale," Davies said.

With Jamaica seeking to position itself as a logistics hub, the Government said it would be undertaking several actions, including the phased development of the Caymanas Economic Zone and the privatisation of the KCT and the Norman Manley International Airport.

Contributing to the Sectoral Debate, the minister said the date for submission of bids on the KCT has been revised from May 22 to July 3, in response to a request for extension of time by one of the shortlisted entities.

In addition to promising that there would be no fire sale, Davies said the privatisation of the KCT will not result in a transfer of the freehold property rights, which means that the location will continue to be owned by Jamaica.

Need for dredging

With the expanded Panama Canal scheduled to be opened next year, there will be a need for a dredging of the harbour in order to accommodate the bigger vessels, known as post-Panamax.

Davies said the discussions taking place with the shortlisted entities that have expressed interest in the KCT involveseveral proposals, which could see the selected entity doing the dredging.

"There are varying assessments of the cost. One company I know feels that the ability to attract the post-Panamax is going to take some time so they don't need to expend that now until you have actually booked additional vessels," Davies said

Meanwhile, Davies said the privatisation of the airport is on track. "If all goes according to plan, the airport will be in private management by mid-year 2015," Davies said, while adding that the divestment route being pursued will see the Government of Jamaica retaining ownership rights for the property.

- D. L.