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PIOJ optimistic

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PIOJ optimistic

Agency says Logistics Hub Initiative and Special Economic Zones projects will drive growth

BY KARENA BENNETT
Observer business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 21, 2019

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WITH an estimated 1.7 per cent growth in GDP for the October to December 2018 quarter, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is predicting that growth of up to three per cent, over the next five years, will be led by projects associated with the Logistics Hub Initiative and the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Jamaica’s planned Logistics Hub Initiative and Special Economic Zones, along with the port and other major infrastructure developments and the ‘Blue Economy’ were yesterday highlighted by PIOJ Director General Dr Wayne Henry as the main drivers of medium-to-long-term growth for Jamaica.

He was speaking at the institute’s Review of Economic Performance for the period October to December 2018.

Despite the improved quarterly performance, which brought to six, the consecutive years of economic growth for Jamaica and the highest annual growth average of 1.8 per cent over the past 12 years, Henry noted that, increasingly, there have been questions as to the initiatives that are expected to drive growth during the medium term, given that several of the current growth projects come to an end within the next two years.

Henry outlined that growth is expected to emanate from Jamaica’s 3,900-hectares Logistics Hub Initiative, which is expected to create approximately 100,000 jobs from capital expenditure of US$28 billion.

“The Government of Jamaica is in the process of finalising a bilateral agreement with the Government of Singapore and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to provide the technical assistance during the implementation phase,” he told media representatives.

A total of eight Special Economic Zones are included among the major pipeline projects proposed for Jamaica with an estimated capital investment of US$8.9 billion, covering 6,000 hectares (14,846 acres) of land with focus on global business process outsourcing (BPOs), distribution, logistics services and manufacturing.

The PIOJ director general said the country is expected to benefit from emerging areas to include industries such as ship repairs, aviation, automobile, electronics, clean energy, limestone, and creative industry, among others.

“By the end of 2019 it is expected that a total of 106 existing Freezone companies would have transitioned to the SEZ. Under the SEZ, existing companies would no longer be entitled to a zero-tax regime but instead will be required to pay Corporate Income Tax (CIT) of 12.5 per cent. This is expected to generate additional revenue to support growth,” Henry said.

In 2020, it is anticipated that there will be the start-up of at least three of the new SEZs, namely, 876 Logistics Limited; Phase 1 of the JISCO SEZ and Industrial Park; and the Caymanas Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) North. A year later, the PIOJ expects that there will be a roll-out of the Caymanas SEZ South and the Jamaica German Ship Repair, while 2022 will see the undertaking of phase II of the JISCO SEZ and Industrial Park and the Amaterra SEZ.

As for the port and other major infrastructure developments, Henry stated that the Port Royal Cruise Port, using Sea-Walk technology for a floating cruise pier, is being implemented with the support of key stakeholders over a three-to-four year period.

Development work will also continue at Reynolds Pier for the Ocho Rios Cruise Port to be able to accommodate larger vessels, and improve the aesthetics of the port, while completion of an additional 157,000 sq ft of new purpose-built Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (KPO) facilities in Portmore to create approximately 4,000 new jobs in the BPO sector.

Jamaica’s ‘Blue Economy’, which encompasses the sustainable management and use of marine resources whilst simultaneously optimising its economic and social benefits, was one of the key economic opportunities highlighted by the PIOJ.

According to Henry, Jamaica has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) more than 20 times greater than its land mass and, therefore, efforts are being focused on ensuring that the blue economy is fully integrated in the country’s long-term development.

He said policies are being implemented to ensure that marine life is managed, while developing and exploiting goods and services provided by the marine environment. These include goods such as fish and shellfish, as well as biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Henry noted that some of the specific initiatives being implemented by Jamaica including the development of a climate smart fisheries management plan, the implementation of a coral reef restoration programme and the exploration of species diversification for export purposes, such as sea cucumbers which are in high demand by Asian countries for medicinal purposes.

“… The potential for generating more robust rates of growth in the medium-to-long term exists. Concentrated efforts must, therefore, be focused on ensuring that implementation is in keeping with targeted timelines,” Henry said.

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PNP denies claims of shouting match at executive meeting

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — General Secretary of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson is refuting reports in sections of the media that last night’s meeting of the Executive Committee was characterised by tension and a shouting match between competing camps.

Robinson, in a statement this afternoon, made particular note of Nationwide News Network (NNN) saying the claims are “completely false”.

The general secretary also noted that there also claims that Party President, Dr Peter Phillips was in attendance, which is also false.

“Dr Phillips did not attend last night’s meeting as he had an engagement in his constituency and had asked to be excused.

“Nationwide News erroneously claimed that the meeting ended abruptly without a decision,” Robinson said, stressing that the meeting was adjourned appropriately and that there was no shouting match between anyone during the meeting or after the adjournment.

“We are very aware that there are elements in the media that would like to see an open brawl in the current context, between the contending sides, to enhance their news story but all such claims are false or fake.  The situation described by NNN is totally inaccurate – fake news,” he said.

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WHO offers global plan to fight superbugs

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Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign Tuesday to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant germs through safer and more effective use of the life-saving drugs.

The UN health agency said it had developed a classification system listing which antibiotics to use for the most common infections and which for the most serious ones, which drugs should be available at all times, and which should be used as a last resort only.

The aim is to prevent antibiotic resistance, which happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.

Such resistance can develop naturally, but overuse and misuse of the drugs dramatically speeds up the process.

“Antimicrobial resistance is an invisible pandemic,” WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines, Mariangela Simao, said in a statement.

“We are already starting to see signs of a post-antibiotic era, with the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics,” she said.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them — turning into so-called “superbugs”.

– ‘Urgent’ health risk –

The WHO campaign pointed to numbers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating that some 2.4 million people could die over the next 30 years in Europe, North America and Australia due to superbug infections.

According to a recent report by the International Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, more than 50 percent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately.

This includes antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, prescribed to treat viruses.

At the same time, many low- and middle-income countries see vast gaps in access to effective and appropriate antibiotics.

Nearly one million children die each year from pneumonia that could have been treated if they had access to antibiotics, WHO pointed out.

The UN health agency’s new classification, which it dubbed AWaRe, splits antibiotics into three categories: Access, Watch and Reserve.

The campaign aims to have drugs in the basic Access category make up at least 60 percent of total antibiotic consumption, while reducing use of drugs in the other categories, to be reserved for cases where other antibiotics have failed.

Using antibiotics in the Access group lowers the risk of resistance because they are so-called “narrow-spectrum” drugs, meaning they target a specific bacteria rather than several, the WHO explained.

They are also less costly, it said.

But the body warned that only 65 countries in the world collect data on their antibiotic use, and fewer than half of those — almost all in Europe — meet the 60-percent goal.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health risks of our time and threatens to undo a century of medical progress,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Tuesday’s statement.

“All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections,” he said.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Overcrowding and abuse

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TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — The 36-year-old Cuban mechanic’s eyes glazed over as he recalled his time at the Siglo XXI holding facility: 50 people sleeping in 9-by-12-foot pens, faeces overflowing the latrines, food and water always scarce.Women slept in hallways or in the dining hall among rats, cockroaches and pigeon droppings, as children wailed, mothers reused diapers and guards treated everyone with contempt.

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