Gov’t selling out and foreigners buying in
Divestment of State Assets Which Will Facilitate Increased Investments a Good Thing For Jamaica – PM said Andrew Holness on May 19 2017, following which on October 24 of the same year the (IMF) urged the government to speed up its efforts to divest underutilized assets, as part of the structural reforms to support a dynamic private sector that creates jobs, as if respective Governments have needed encouragement to do just that.
“Divestment of assets is not a bad thing for Jamaicans if it is done correctly, if you find the right partners and if you have the right framework in place, Jamaicans benefit. (These are) assets that we would not be able ourselves to utilize because of the fiscal constraints that exist, (so) those assets get to be utilized and in the utilization of those assets, Jamaicans get employed, said PM Holness.
The stark reality facing Jamaica though is, anything and everything that can be sold by the Government, it would seem, is up for sale. It would prove challenging to refute such claims. A fire sale of the country’s assets is clearly on and foreigners have been “buying in” in no uncertain manner.
Our bauxite industry has Russians as its principals, while the Chinese and Japanese have more than a toehold in our sugar and coffee industries, respectively. The Spanish, not to be outdone, have snapped up some hotels, and the French are “eating a food” courtesy of the toll roads likewise the Chinese via CHEC, who remember the Chinese being gifted prime real estate in St Ann as part payment for Highway Construction.
Don’t discount little Trinidad, by the way; they have impacted our construction sector by virtue of acquiring the cement company. I won’t even bother to mention Air Jamaica, the Jamaica Public Service Company, Kingston Container Terminal, Wigton Wind Farm, Seprod Limited, Factories Corporation of Jamaica, Ethanol Jamaica, Things Jamaica Limited, Victoria Pier, Caymanas Park, or Petrojam for that matter.
Now with all the “bright” and experienced (pronounced ‘old’) people in Government, plus the plethora of consultants floating around like millstones about the necks of the taxpayers, one would have thought innovative, workable ideas would be a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
To my simple thinking, the ideal to strive for would be to maintain ownership of our assets, acquire more, and ensure they turn a profit, while providing badly needed employment for Jamaicans. In other words a win-win-win situation for team Jamaica.
When these assets are sold to foreign interests they get them to operate profitably, so why is it so difficult for our Government to do likewise? Just compare the then National Lottery in the hands of the State, to the greater success that lottery has become in the private hands of Supreme Ventures Ltd.
I see now where moves are afoot to dispose of two of the country’s mineral baths, Milk River in Clarendon and Bath in St Thomas, as well as the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston among other assets.
What I find quite disturbing about all this is that there seem to be no dissenting voices. There is this great commotion about foreign direct investment but, conveniently, no one bothers to mention the greater outflows at the end of the day when the people convert the funds to their country’s currency and send it home.
Granted, the National Housing Trust is far from perfect, but at the very least its performance is an example of what is possible should we exercise a show of vision and nationalism.
What is currently taking place here in Jamaica would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. It reminds me of Africans selling fellow Africans to slave traders back in the day. Well that is just my opinion anyways.
#TeachDem #Jamaica #JamaicaForSale