Jamaican government to divest companies

KINGSTON: The government of Jamaica will divest a number of companies in which it has full or part ownership.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the companies to be divested are Clarendon Aluminum Productions, the Port of Kingston, the Norman Manley International Airport, National Road and Operating Construction Company (NROCC), Central Waste Water Treatment Plant, Air Jamaica, the Montego Bay Convention Center, the Sugar Company of Jamaica, Sabina Park, the Trelawny Stadium and shares in the Jamaica Public Service Company.

Golding said the government has equity in Clarendon Aluminum Productions, but the company has accumulated debt that the government has to bring to finality.

“We are looking at the option of divesting the shares that the government has and to see to what extent we can offset the amount that is owed for our share of capital investment, offset that debt and have it liquidated.

“We have taken a decision at Cabinet just last week to appoint a team to pursue the privatization of the (Kingston airport). The method that was used for the Sangster International Airport was a good method and we intend to pursue that,” said Golding.

Regarding the Montego Bay Convention Center, Golding says that it will require a subsidy unless some other arrangements can be made to relieve the government of the burden. He added that the Trelawny Stadium costs about US$25 to $30 million for servicing and is not generating income.

Referring to the Petrojam fuel initiative, Golding said the cost to pursue the project was originally estimated at US $600 million before its design work. He added that the design work is almost completed and it would cost the country US$1.2 billion to pursue the project.

“Given our fiscal situation it is just not possible for us to assume that kind of liability,” Golding said, while noting that this information was provided to the Venezuelans, who share ownership of the Petrojam project with Jamaica.

Golding said that he has asked the foreign affairs minister to convey the difficulty that the government is experiencing to Venezuela. He said the government would not be able to pursue the project as originally planned but was anxious to find alternative strategies.

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