The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP
Red Stripe’s Launch of Production Line 8 and Liquified Natural gas (LNG) Plant
December 19, 2017
This is another proud moment for one of Jamaica’s most iconic brands.
I want you to consider for a moment what we’ve always said about brand Jamaica -that brand Jamaica is one of the top ten brands in the world and for good reason. We produced Bob Marley; that brand is very powerful. We have produced Usain Bolt another very powerful brand. We have produced reggae music, we have influenced pop culture to such a great degree and now of course we’ve always had almost for a hundred years, a very powerful brand called Red Stripe.
Now do not underestimate the power of this brand. When there was a near crisis in the US some time ago, President Obama chose a beer summit, and what was the beer that he chose? Red Stripe, very powerful brand, so I’m very happy to see that the investors in Red Stripe recognize the value of the brand and they are not just sitting on the brand, they are making greater investments so that we can make that brand bigger. I’m here to endorse that and support that and to encourage even greater investment in the brand and I know by virtue of this plea that we will see- I see a big smile coming out of Richard – that we will see even greater investment in the brand.
It was in September last year, that I was here celebrating Red Stripe’s first shipment from Jamaica to the United states after as you’ve said, you’ve termed it ” the repatriation of the American Volumes” and I thought that was such a very important move in the development of the brand because it adds to the authenticity of the brand. But I was also here celebrating not just the repatriation but the substitution using local raw materials to produce the beer and I’m so very pleased, very happy with the cassava project because it really integrates, creates the linkages to the local economy with this booming growing sector so it’s manufacturing linking with agriculture and that is so very important for our growth prospects in this country.
We can see why Red Stripe deservedly won the Governor General’s Award for Manufacturer of the year and the Robert Lightborne award for competitiveness at the Jamaica Manufacturers Association Awards held in October this year and I’m here again today, celebrating another milestone for the company and for business in Jamaica. Congratulations to Red Stripe on today’s official launch of the Line 8 Production line and your new LNG facility.
Jamaica’s national goal of the development of a modern and efficient energy sector that produces affordable and reliable energy supply is a critical component of sustainable growth and development. The development of this efficient energy sector necessarily revolves around energy diversification and recently you would have heard of the important strides taking place in the energy sector in Jamaica. We had the first Natural Gas Conference held in Jamaica in October this year. We had the ground-breaking ceremony for the New Fortress Energy Co-generation plant at JAMALCO. W signed an agreement establishing the Caribbean centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency under the hospices of CARICOM.
You would have also seen the ground-breaking for the largest solar powered plant in the Caribbean, we did that last week. You would also know about the conversion of the Bogue plant in Montego Bay last year to use LNG, and you would also have heard about the construction which is now underway of the three hundred and sixty megawatt plant to replace the old plant at Old Harbour which will use LNG, but hot off the press you haven’t heard this one yet.
Yesterday Cabinet approved the pilot project for buses to use LNG in Jamaica. Now you talk about the equivalent in cars that this plant will take off the road. Well just imagine when we have a fleet of buses powered by LNG and possibly electricity because the government is serious about energy efficiency.
The right fuel mix fuels efficiency and economy from the micro entrepreneur to the large manufacturer; energy is a critical input. We must ensure that the thrust towards the provision of clean and affordable energy is given priority and we have carefully examined and put in place a tax structure in keeping with the mandate to incentivise the use of LNG.
As stated by Wes Edens – Wes is of course the Chairman and founder of New Fortress Energy and maybe some of you were present when he said it at the ground-breaking for the JAMALCO Plant and I was really touched by what he said. He said “Jamaica is serious about doing business” and I’m not paraphrasing him, those were his exact words and “We’re about a can do solution driven attitude and approach to investment.” Now I found that to be a significant endorsement. I’m not saying that it is universally the feeling but you know we’re making headway when a major investor unscripted could make a statement like that. It should give us the confidence that not only an international investor can say that and as we say in Jamaica ‘without in we mouth‘.
We want our local investors to be able to say that truthfully as well; that the bureaucracy the government must support the private sector in achieving their investments in a seamless fashion and I’m here at these kinds of events to always drive home that point that the government stands side by side in support of and behind the private sector to drive growth. We are here to support, to create the facilitating, enabling and seamless environment so that you can engage in projects that will repatriate your production capacity, substitute for local raw material and make long term investments in renewing your capital equipment so you can take a risk on the future so that the future can become the focus of the present as you’ve said Ricardo; so beautifully put.
Red Stripe has been one of the early movers in the private sector in utilizing alternative energy supplies in its business processes. The company’s Combined Heat and Power Plant, (CHP), which was completed in 2014 with propane gas as its primary fuel source. The plant was originally designed and operated as a dual fuel generator capable of using both propane and natural gas and now today we’re seeing the total conversion to natural gas which will give you a 30% increase in your power generation. Now as you said, that may not be good news for JPS but it is still good news for country generally.
In the new energy dynamic, private companies will make the best economic decisions they see fit for their balance sheet and in a liberated market, that we have it is not the business of government to try to intervene. The business of government is to make it possible for the national electricity producer/ supplier to be as efficient as possible so that businesses don’t have to make these kinds of investment decisions. My view of the future is that you will have a very efficient electricity production mechanism in Jamaica as we increase the diversification of the fuel sources and as we increase the production which is based on renewables.
We are now at approximately 18% of our electricity production in renewables but I’m of the view that we should be somewhere in the region of 50%. Now there is quite a bit that would have to happen for us to get to 50%, but at least I want Jamaicans to be thinking that we can be sustainable in electricity production coming mainly from renewables. Now can you imagine the savings that we would have from not having to import so much oil and heavy fuels; imagine that. You would be saving over a billion US dollars yearly if we were able to achieve that and I’m using this platform and I’m certain that I would have agreement between Peter Bunting and Phillip Paulwell that that would be a major achievement for Jamaica and indeed it should become our national goal.
The benefits that Red Stripe will have from this plan are significant. It will increase your efficiency, but it will also increase your capacity, and once we start to talk about increasing efficiency and capacity then you are now talking about reliability, and once you’re able to reliable supply your markets then you’re on your way of course with a good marketing campaign to growth and when we grow the benefit to the country first is in jobs.
All the workers of Red Stripe, I want to congratulate you for sticking with the company, for being productive, for putting in the effort because you are a part of the brand; you make the brand and when you make the brand grow we grow employment.
We’ve created close to sixty thousand new jobs; that’s significant. Imagine that sixty thousand Jamaicans who were not employed before are now employed. I’m not here saying that they are all high paying jobs or the best jobs but at least we now have more people employed than before.
The secret to employment is that government cannot create jobs. Those days are gone and I want to emphasize that. Those people who believe that government can create employment that is not the case anymore. What government does is to enable businesses to invest and grow and create jobs and when I come to this plant and I see the Red Stripe staff, they all look like people who have a purpose. You can see the motivation, you can see the sense of independence, and that’s good and we want more people in our country to have that sense and so as the Prime Minister the person responsible at this point in time as Peter Bunting would remind me my job is to make sure that every single Jamaican has the opportunity to be employed.
I’m a firm believer that we can have full employment in this country and I’m a firm believer that our economy can grow and I’m here today looking at one of the bright sparks; many bright sparks. I see many of our private sector people here who are equally doing well and this government as I’ve said stands in support of the private sector because it is the private sector that will lead growth and create jobs. My job is to put it all together and make it happen. Imagine that it is happening right here at Red Stripe.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.