State Assets Shortlisted for Privatisation

MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz says several additional State assets have been identified and shortlisted for privatisation by the Government.

These include Wigton Wind Farm in Manchester, which he said will be listed via an initial public offering (IPO) on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE); and Government-owned lands at Silver Sands Estate in Trelawny.

The minister was speaking at MoneyMasters Limited’s ‘Conversation with the Analysts’ breakfast forum, held at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa in St Andrew yesterday, under the theme ‘Opportunities for Local Financing of Jamaica’s Infrastructure Development’.

Another shortlisted asset, Vaz noted, is the former Coffee Industry Board, adding that the Government will shortly be publicly launching the requests for proposal.

The minister advised that these are expected to be finalised by the end of the current fiscal year, in March 2019.

Meanwhile, Vaz said the Government is still “actively assessing” the feasibility and “appropriate methodology” for incorporating private sector investment to improve operations at the Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa in St Thomas and Milk River Hotel and Spa in Clarendon.

State assets successfully privatised thus far include Caymanas Track Limited, Petcom, Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, and Government’s shares in Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

Vaz reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to working more closely with the private sector to facilitate more opportunities for broad-based ownership in the economy through the privatisation of State assets.

The minister pointed out that the private sector has been and is being presented with “viable and well-structured” investments for take-up.

“This allows the Government to get out of areas which we believe should rightly be in the hands of the private sector, [thereby enabling us] to pursue our core activities,” he added.

Vaz said, too, that statistics indicate that 70 per cent of the transactions managed by the Development Bank of Jamaica since 2009 have been taken up by local investors.

This, he noted, dispels the notion that foreign entities are more aggressively taking up Government-developed investment opportunities.

Vaz contended that consequent on Jamaica’s macroeconomic position, in terms of the country’s emergence from debt, “it is clear that the Government will not be able to invest in some sectors… particularly in critical public infrastructure, as it would wish or at levels desired, given the financial constraints”.

“That is why we pursue an active policy to seek private sector participation in economic growth and the development activities. This is a win-win situation for both the Government and private sector. There is no doubt [that] the Government is fully committed to the position that the private sector is the engine of growth in the economy,” the minister said.