Jamaica News: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says 104 free zone companies have now attained Special Economic Zone (SEZ) designation, following an audit by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA).
He notes that the reconciliation process, targeting more than 200 companies that operated in free zones, has been completed, adding that “we now just have to do validation”.
This is expected to enable the entities to operate within SEZs, which are pivotal to the Government’s Global Logistics Hub Initiative (GLHI).
The Prime Minister was delivering the keynote address at Wednesday’s (July 11) official opening of the JSEZA on Waterloo Road in St. Andrew.
Mr. Holness said the reconciliation exercise has facilitated a “very good base” for implementing the SEZ strategy, while pointing to the likelihood of the number of entities applying to operate within the zones rapidly expanding.
This, he argued, as businesses start to hear about brand Jamaica “which has, for a very long time, been dominated by sun, sea, sand, music, culture, food (and) sports”.
“Now, we are going to start to show off our prowess in business, finance, trade and commerce (and) in logistics,” the Prime Minister added.
The SEZs, which will replace the free zone regime, are a wide range of geographically defined areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors.
The Global Logistics Hub Initiative (GLHI), development of which is being spearheaded by the JSEZA, aims to positon Jamaica as the fourth node in the global supply chain, alongside Rotterdam, Netherlands; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Singapore, which are already global logistics hubs.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said the JSEZA has been established with significant administrative and regulatory support, underpinned by his direct oversight, to ensure that “there is no policy drift” in implementing the SEZ strategy.
“It is important that the Authority… follows and implements the (attendant) law in a very careful way, because any loose (implementation) could impact on our fiscal certainty,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister said this fiscal certainty, within the context of the SEZ framework and the broader GLHI, would see Jamaica potentially attracting investments totalling over US$28 billion, having approximately 4,000 hectares of space as designated SEZs, while generating about 80,000 direct and 400,000 indirect jobs.
Mr. Holness said in addition to revenue inflows to the Government, incentives to operators and job creation, the potential also exists for businesses to evolve and graduate to other “more complex operations”.
Meanwhile, JSEZA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Eric Deans, indicated that the 104 approved entities have operations at 126 locations across 11 parishes.
He said 45 of the locations are on the northern side of the island, between Hanover and Portland, with the remaining 81 spanning Westmoreland to St. Thomas. A total of 58 are situated in Kingston and St. Andrew.
Noting that these zones occupy over 18 million square feet, Dr. Deans advised that when the proposed large-scale SEZs are licensed, the Authority will be regulating over 400 million square feet of space, representing a 20-fold increase.
Source: JIS News