It was very heart-warming to enter the plant this morning and see the many Jamaicans coming to work. These kinds of infrastructure projects, though they use quite a bit of foreign exchange, they generate significant employment and just interacting with the labour force on the site here, tells me that the management of the construction here at JPS have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that there is industrial harmony on the site and that there is some amount of human resource development taking place and you can see it in how the workers are very much involved and very excited about this plant.
I gather that 75% of the labour force here is Jamaican but it also speaks to the harmonious working relationship with foreigners who are also working at the plant and just in general a very good industrial relations environment. It shows that we can bring in overseas investors/ foreign investors working together with local labour, local know-how, local capital and achieve major things for our economy. This is a major achievement for Jamaica, not just the replacement of the pool plant which was very inefficient to a newer generating facility which is almost twice as efficient as the old plant, will ensure our energy security but for the average consumer it will inevitably see a reduction in your electricity prices.
The plant uses LNG, but it also uses ADO as a backup fuel in case they are any fall outs in the LNG supply, but the plant will be mainly a LNG plant. LNG is in the long term projected to be a more stable fuel certainly in terms of price and availability and more efficient and friendlier to the environment as well. I’m also very happy to know that the plant itself is far more environmentally conscious in its design in that the particulate discharge will be far less than the old plant and that this is a combined cycle plant; you’re getting far more energy out of every unit of fuel that you use. All of this just augurs very well for Jamaica but on a larger scale Jamaica will benefit from a brand and image perspective.
This is a large project, three hundred million US dollar project. I’m told that the construction is two months ahead of schedule; that’s significant and on budget, that again is significant. When you take that together with the fact that the project was largely financed by Jamaicans, Jamaican Pension Funds, Jamaican Banks invested in this project, it sends a very good signal to the international community about the state of the Jamaican economy to not just sustain the financing of such a large project but to also have all the necessary support infrastructural facilities in place to ensure that such a large investment can go off seamlessly.
Of course, you’ve had cooperation with the weather, we haven’t had many major weather disruption but all in all I think it serves very well for brand Jamaica and we will be seeing large projects of this nature in the future and investors can rest assured that they can calculate and manage their risks in Jamaica, that the Jamaican government and bureaucracy is supportive of these large investments and that we have the labour force to support it. Training of course will always be an issue and I’m certain that the Jamaicans who are here who are working on this construction site will appreciate the importance because as the plant moves from its rudimentary construction phase into the more technical areas, they will require higher level skills and I would encourage the people who live around the community to start getting certified because after the plant is constructed you would still need to have a certain level of labour force for maintenance and upgrade so this is an opportunity now to make that long term investment in your own personal development. Get some skills, get training, HEART NTA is there with many great courses, please utilize the opportunity and as I said other such large projects are coming and we will need the skills.