The Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP
Prime Minister of Jamaica
Official Opening of the KWL Total Logistics Facility
January 25, 2018
We can all rejoice that we are here to celebrate this future, which was the vision shared by both the government at the time, and the opposition at the time and though administrations have changed, the vision is the same, and if we could get that kind of confluence on more things then we would be realizing the better future that we all wish for.
I was ordering some items and I had to go on Amazon and place the order and the items are coming from all over the world and when you go on Amazon it tells you it will take you two days or three days, some of the stuff coming from China, some coming from all over and you wonder how do they coordinate all of this. Well that is logistics. That’s the business and Jamaica can play a very critical role in this new world of getting supplies right on time when you need them, where you need them, in the volumes that you need them and we can play that critical role because God gave us an asset.
Recently they discovered oil in Guyana and many Jamaicans are wondering God placed us here, something must have been placed here but we just haven’t found it yet but our God given asset is our location. It is an asset and we’ve talked about it and talked around it for many years, we just haven’t moved with the level of instrumentality and deliberateness to take advantage of that well placed location that we have. This is really the first step in utilizing that God given natural placement.
Grantley mentioned to me that the demand for logistics services now is the greatest it has ever been in the world and more things are happening to suggest that logistics will grow even greater. Clearly, we see the Panama Canal but we see the Latin American region that the economies there are growing, that means their consumption base will grow. That means they will demand more services and goods and generally the outlook for the world economy is that there will be growth, maybe not 4/ 5% but certainly, the outlook is that there will be growth and that will continue.
Jamaica is in this excellent position of being centrally placed on the major trade roots but, Jamaica itself is in a transformation process so if you look at what has happened, you look at this port area, it is in urgent need of revitalization but that revitalization is happening right before our eyes and what Kingston Wharves has done with this building is an important part of that transformation so the demand is there but the critical wherewithal is also there in our private and with the government. The Port Authority is supporting these kinds of initiatives and the government is supporting these initiatives so there is yes, this positive confluence of invents to enable us to realize that positive future that we all hope for.
I’m very happy to hear of the plans and I want you to know that the government supports the idea of creating a true port community that is secure and orderly. One of the things that is of great distress to me is that we tend to do things in a disorderly fashion. We want to park anywhere, sell anywhere and just do as we please without realizing that with order we all survive better and the excuse for this order is that “well I’m trying to earn a bread, eat a food, hustle” when if we all step back and look to do things orderly we all can have a better survival and so I want to publicly state that the government supports and endorses the idea, the mission, the vision of creating an orderly port community and we will support you with the regulation and the legislation necessary to ensure that it happens.
A part of the transformation of Jamaica- you showed some very interesting pictures going back from the 1930’s I suspect coming up to the present and Kingston and much of our urban areas were not designed for the present time so much of the parcelling of the lands that we have, small spaces, small roadways built for another period of time; the size of warehousing that you would need to accommodate logistics , can’t be done on the small lots that are the present configuration. What needs to happen now is that there has to be a process of bringing together these lots.
The process I gather has started, it has started using the markets, you’re buying lands as much as you can but they really need to be continuous, they need to be beside each other so that you can take advantage of scale so the transformation of this port community has to be done at a scale and so people who own lands will have to appreciate this transformation process and not become an obstacle to the transformation process and it’s not just here. For the entire Kingston to be transformed people who own lands and are not developing these lands must come to the understanding that they can become part of the development process by making their lands available to people who have the skills, know-how and expertise to make Kingston grow so that we can all benefit from having a real city that is well planned , intelligently designed and safe and secure for all.
I’m pleased to know that having made the investment, taken the risk, that you’re already rewarded. The spaces have all been taken and I’m particularly happy to know that it’s not just storing goods, you’re adding value to the goods that you’re storing and dispatching and I tell you as I said at the Jamaica Stock Exchange event recently, we want see these kinds of investments. Yes, they will help to generate growth but growth must have equity. The equity question in Jamaica is important. We must never forget that we are still a poor country with a large portion of our population that is still below the poverty line; absolutely poor and everything that we’re doing though we’re relying on the private sector and on markets to work. It is not without consideration that government policy must protect, promote and enhance the poor.
In building, this partnership with the private sector and allowing our markets to work to generate growth we’re also very cognizant of the fact that the poor must share in the prosperity and the best way to share the prosperity with those who are poor or disenfranchised is by giving them employment. Employment is independence in your hands and so we support and endorse all the investment activities that will not just bring growth but create employment so I’m happy to hear that Kingston wharves will be creating many more jobs. I gather that with the logistics operations that you’re doing with your motor-vehicles that you could possibly employ another one hundred Jamaicans. That’s music to my ears. Even better if it is one hundred young Jamaican males because the truth is that with our present crime situation the main victims and perpetrators are our young males and one hundred males employed means one hundred less males available for the gangs to create the havoc that they create in our society.
My key message here today is that we’re doing well on the economic front. It is happening, growth is happening and this is a perfect example of it but we still have the social issues to contend with and we still have the infrastructure issues to contend with. On the infrastructure side, the utilization of land and the willingness of people who own land to participate in a process of redevelopment is critical. There are many strategies to be employed, you could have a real estate development trust, you could sell your lands and participate in joint ventures, all kinds of avenues are available for landowners to participate in the redevelopment process and the banks are lending again. I’m happy to hear that this project was locally financed. I see BNS is here and it’s very good. We want more involvement of our local financial sector in these kinds of projects and how could I forget Nigel. I don’t see Nigel Holness of CIBC or First Caribbean. I want the banks to participate and facilitate that process of transformation of the infrastructure and economy and yes on the social side, poverty and crime and we will tackle those when we start to truly expand at a geometric pace our employment and all of that is happening. We must keep faith, we must keep positive. Jamaica is the centre of the Caribbean. It is the centre of culture, of lifestyle and it will become the centre of trade and commerce in the global logistics hub.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.