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PM tables special economic zones regulations

Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week tabled the long-awaited Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Regulations in the House of Representatives.

The regulations are intended to drive the SEZs, which are expected to open up significant economic opportunities for Jamaicans in terms of employment generation, manufacturing, small-business development and foreign exchange earnings.

The rules do not require any affirmative resolution and will be signed by the relevant minister to become part of the law.

“The players in the industry have been waiting on these to be tabled, so it is important that it doesn’t just pass silently into law, but at least something is said to alert the country and the players that we have now completed a very important part of the framework,” Holness said.

SEZs represent a wide variety of geographically demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures for investors.

The Special Economic Zones Act, which came into force on August 1, 2016, provides for the designation, promotion, development, operation, and management of the zones, the establishment of a Special Economic Zone Authority, and the granting of incentives in order to attract domestic and foreign investments.

Business-friendly environment

Prime Minister Holness noted that the administration is seeking to create a business-friendly environment with the requisite governance in place.

“We have to strike the balance and to ensure the required interconnectivity to drive us forward. It is this relationship among a range of service providers, infrastructure developers, providers of goods and technology and services that will ensure the linkages in our economy, to ensure our growth and job creation success,” he said.

source: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170919/pm-tables-special-economic-zones-regulations

Singapore to help Jamaica develop airport systems plan

The Jamaican government has tapped the expertise of the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) to build out a national airports system plan.

A release from the Jamaica Economic Zone Authority says the airport systems plan will focus specifically on air cargo, maintenance repair and overhaul services.

The Authority says it signed an addendum to an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the SCE last Wednesday to cover the partnership between Jamaica and Singapore.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, signed on behalf of the government while on a visit to Singapore last week.

Vaz was part of a team of government officials who had gone on a week-long study of Singapore’s economic and industrial parks as part of the MoU for Singapore to help Jamaica with the development of its special economic zones.

While the Economic Zone Authority did not specify, Transport Minister Mike Henry had announced in April during the Sectoral Debate in Parliament that the government would be proceeding with plans to build the Vernamfield Aerotropolis in Clarendon.

He said the aerotropolis would be geared towards transshipment of air cargo, as well as airline maintenance and repairs.

Henry said in his presentation that the aerodrome located at Tinson Pen in Kingston would be relocated to Vernamfield, as well as the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing.

The multibillion-dollar airport development earmarked for southwest Clarendon is part of the government’s logistics-driven economic plan.

The Kerr-Jarretts’ western design – Mining the diamond of orderly development from MoBay sugar lands

The Kerrs and the Jarretts sailed from England in 1655 with Admiral Penn, General Venables and Captain Henry Morgan to execute Sir Oliver Cromwell’s so-called ‘western design’ to wrest the island from the Spanish.

It has been said that sugar planter and long-standing custos of St James, Sir Peter Francis Kerr-Jarrett, believed it was divined for the Barnett lands his family inherited – at one time encompassing nearly all of Montego Bay stretching to Falmouth in its heyday – to be used to design a proud and planned western city.

Today, his son, Mark Kerr-Jarrett, and Mark’s lawyer wife, Paula, seem still wedded to that mission.

Working through the Barnett Group and its subsidiaries – Barnett Construction Services, involved in heavy equipment rental and project management; Barnett Tech Park Limited, a registered special economic zone; Montego Westgate Property Development; and Barnett Plantation Tours, operator of the Bellefield Great House – the Kerr-Jarretts have changed the face of the Barnett family business in Montego Bay that had its origin in the era of sugar, slavery, and colonialism.

They are now ushering in new property developments, including housing, modern shopping, and a tech park for business process outsourcing, or BPO, firms.

Having, by their account, spent billions of dollars on these new developments so far, the Kerr-Jarretts still have their eyes set on other vistas. These include the long-awaited western campus of the University of the West Indies, a multimillion-dollar commercial zone at Bogue, more middle-income houses in the already sold-out Montego Bay West development at Fairfield being done by Gore Developments Limited, as well as additional BPO space.

The 12.24-hectare (30-acre) Springs development at Bogue will involve the creation, over three to five years, of some 30 commercial lots to be leased and is now in the process of receiving approvals. The Kerr-Jarretts plan to shell out about $3 billion to develop the project, with $320 million of that being for infrastructure.

A “fair amount of interest” is said to be already coming from several Kingston-based companies seeking to set up regional operations in the western city.

The managing director, mechanical engineer Mark Kerr-Jarrett, says even after all this, there will still be more developable portions of his Barnett cane lands. A riverside reserve comprising “290 acres on either side of the Montego River” has been set aside for what he calls the Southbank Commercial Centre, planned to accommodate more BPO space, a financial services district and attractions for cruise ship tourists complete with a jogging trail.

“We are awaiting critical mass before we go into that,” he says.

With the upscale Westgate Hills serviced lots completed since 2013, the Kerr-Jarretts hope sometime in the future to construct apartments on another eight acres in that area, as well as more high-end housing on its 1,200-acre mountain forest overlooking Montego Bay and stretching all the way to Roehampton in the parish.

Master plan

It is the commitment to holistic development following the two-decade-old Montego Bay South development plan for their properties which the Kerr-Jarretts say has been largely responsible for the build-out not being more rapid.

“Had we not had the Montego Bay South master plan, it would have been ad hoc. Some people think we are holding the land, being selfish about it, but you have to release it in a timely basis; if not, you are going to have a hodgepodge development with no real future growth potential and it’s not organised or sustainable,” they said.

“So the master planning was very important. Holding land is an extremely expensive business. If we just chop it up and sell, we would be a lot better off (financially). But we are adhering to the master plan. It’s like diamond mining, you release as it’s needed and as the demand comes, so you can adhere to the format and ensure that the end product will be an organised, well-defined, well-serviced, sustainable city that everybody can be proud of and where the quality of life will be ensured to the highest level.”

The high cost of capital is said also to be stymieing the rate of build-out of the 45-acre Barnett Tech Park, still only 25 per cent complete after investments of $2.5 billion and where several BPO companies have set up shop.

Readmore: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20170616/kerr-jarretts-western-design-mining-diamond-orderly-development-mobay

WIHCON tests community response to new BPO complex – 900 jobs expected to be created

West Indies Home Contractors will oversee a 37,000-square foot, three-storey office building project on behalf of Canadian firm Advantage Communications Inc to house a business process outsourcing or BPO centre, currently slated for Portmore.

The height of the structure, at three storeys, has raised privacy concerns, but community residents got assurances on the weekend that the design of the complex takes that into consideration.

On Sunday, project manager WIHCON and representatives of the Canadian-owned company met with community members to push the project, which they said would create around 900 jobs once the BPO centre opens for business. Advantage Communication is executing the project through its property arm.

 

NO TIMELINES

 

No timelines for completing the project were disclosed. Permit applications were pending, they said.

According to one manager, the planned move serves to meet the expanding needs of the company, which started operating in Jamaica four years ago with 100 staff and has since grown to 800.

She told the community forum that 40 per cent of the company’s Kingston workforce already resides in Portmore.

“We are not just here to put up a building and make money. It has to be a symbiotic relationship,” said yet another representative of the Canadian firm.

Advantage Communication operates from Prince Edward Island in Canada, where it has been in business for 21 years.

The firm entered Jamaica in 2013 and currently operates from two locations in New Kingston that provide services for companies in the Caribbean and North America. It specialises in telecommunications, finance, collections, and social media, among other areas.

Property manager for WIHCON Ian Hall said Advantage Communication is negotiating with Victoria Mutual Property Limited to acquire the land on which the three-storey structure is to be constructed. He, however, declined to disclose the construction cost.

 

NEW PARKING SPACES

 

Hall said at the meeting that the complex would feature 68 new parking spaces to the forefront and a building that faces away from residences to ensure their privacy. The third-floor windows will be positioned five feet from floor level to prevent staff from seeing into nearby homes, while the glass to be used on the entire back wall has been reduced from 60 per cent to 10 per cent.

The project managers said that they were advised by the Municipal Council to seek community consensus before construction. A nearby townhouse development, also constructed by WIHCON, was delayed in planning for years because of objections by residents. The scheme, called Bermonde, is now complete after architects redesigned homes to minimise impact on the environment.

National Water Commission representative Garth Jackson said at the meeting that sewage ponds within the community were about to be rehabilitated and that the commission was planning the addition of 15 million gallons of water to the KMA zone, which would include Portmore. He gave the commitment that sewage and water services would not be impacted by the new development.

Readmore: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20170614/wihcon-tests-community-response-new-bpo-complex-900-jobs-expected-be

Jamaican team in Singapore on study tour

The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is spearheading a one-week study tour to Singapore, which started last Friday.

Headed by minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, the tour is one of a three-part programme agreed on with the government of Singapore through the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, an agency formed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.

The seven-day initiative will see key ministries and department and agency heads participating in a full immersion in Singapore’s practices and standards in areas such as economic and industrial development; Customs procedures; and maritime, aviation, and technical education.

While in Singapore, the team will visit government agencies such as the Economic Development Board, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Maritime Port, Special Economic Zones, the Urban Redevelopment Institute of Technical Education, Singapore Customs, and the Airport Logistics Park, among others.

There will be a learning journey through sites of economic interest and workshops, including a session on “Envisioning the Future”.

The Jamaican contingent will learn about Singapore’s industrialisation journey; their SEZ ecology; the key ingredients for a successful SEZ – planning principles, site considerations and development strategy; and, among other things, see how Singapore has developed a world-class logistics ecosystem around the airport.

GOV’T’S PRIORITY

“Growing the Jamaican economy is a priority for the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, and our intention is to get it right,” said the JSEZA’s chairman, Metry Seaga.

“In order to do this, we must incorporate international best practice and service standards. This is why we have partnered with Singapore and will be participating in this study trip to get a first-hand view of First-World practices,” added Seaga.

According to Seaga, Singapore has a results-driven approach to the business of economic growth, and it is expected that this programme will provide participants with the tools necessary to spur growth through the development of SEZs.

The second part of the initiative will include workshops to be held in Jamaica, which will allow more than 200 government officials to be trained in key areas of development.

The third part of the programme will see the creation of an implementation road map for the creation of a large-scale SEZ in Jamaica.

“This initiative is a true governmental partnership model as it includes participants from a range of government organisations that are central to the SEZ development process. This is also the ideal time for us to participate in this programme as the SEZ regime is new and in the initial stages of rollout,” said Seaga.

Readmore: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170611/jamaican-team-singapore-study-tour

Customs to police leakage from auto SEZs

Jamaica has opened up its special economic zones, or SEZs, to car importers, but is offering assurances that it comes with safeguards to prevent leakage of uncustomed vehicles into the local market.

The May 9 decision by Minister of Industry Karl Samuda will allow dealers to import vehicles into a SEZ duty-free and without a licence from the Trade Board.

SEZ-stored vehicles are mainly meant for trans-shipment, but the policy does not bar SEZ-designated cars from being sold in Jamaica. To emerge from the SEZ and into the local market, the vehicles would then have be to assessed for tariffs by the Jamaica Customs Agency and obtain the requisite import permit from the Trade Board.

Kent LaCroix, chairman of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA), is suggesting that bonded storage areas are needed at the wharf to facilitate the migration of autos from the SEZ into the local trade.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20170609/customs-police-leakage-auto-sezs

Jamaica’s Special Economic Zones: Form, function, and model

Free Zone to SEZ: a new policy direction
The name change from Free Zone to SEZ is not a simple matter of form over substance. The SEZ concept is a deliberate policy break away from past policy and is intended to send a clear signal to the investor community (domestic and international); the multilateral lending agencies; and the WTO that Jamaica is moving in a new policy direction.
The Free Zones of the past were largely export processing zones reliant on non-World Trade Organization (WTO) compliant export performance fiscal incentives, the SEZ on the other hand move beyond export processing and is fully WTO compliant.

The Jamaica SEZ model
SEZs are purposed built and fully serviced sites aimed at improving the competitiveness of manufacturing and services. They are founded on the principles of improving efficiency, clustering of complementary value added services, and seamless integration into the global value chains, low corporate taxation and a business friendly environment.
These principles, however, are not self-applying. They have to be implemented systematic and this is where the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) comes into play. JSEZA is the government body charged with regulating, monitoring, supervising, promoting and facilitating investments in SEZs in Jamaica. Through the work of JSEZA SEZs investors will facilitate and be facilitated by:
a. Developing world class industrial infrastructure, supported by world class transport infrastructure (road, rail, airport and ports) that function as trade facilitators;
b. Competitively priced energy;
c. Increase cargo flows through increased transshipment throughput; increased imports as inputs into production (SEZ and domestic); and increased exports as semi or finished goods (SEZ or domestic) that have the Made in Jamaica label;
d. Optimize and analyzing cargo flow information to seek out, attract and manage higher value-added logistics activities; and
e. Create backward linkages to the rest of economy through our Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through the sourcing of domestics raw materials as inputs into production and by subcontracting of local service providers.

Readmore: http://www.commerciallawinternational.com/?p=1804

Jamaica’s special economic zone framework designed to support private sector SEZ development

Its always a good idea to review your past work and accomplishments from time to time, you just never know what you will find.  Such a review brings to mind the old adage what is old, is new; reviewing after some time gives you perspective and at times new insights. Conducting such an exercise led me to remember my participation as a panelist in 2014 on a Government of Jamaica policy dialogue: Jamaica’s Growth & Special Economic Zones Policy Dialogue. Some how I posted an article on my LinkedIn but not on Commercial Law International. What an oversight!

This oversight on my part has come to be a blessing in disguise as it allows me an opportunity to put out an article on Jamaica’s special economic zone (SEZ) policy and legislative framework, with particular focus on attracting private sector investment. This is especially timely given the continued roll out of Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, the Government of Jamaica’s, agency charged with regulating and attracting investments to zones in Jamaica.  While this piece is a bit dated it never the less provides in brief some useful insights, in particular for the private sector, into the policy and legal framework of SEZs in Jamaica.

Read more: http://www.commerciallawinternational.com/?p=1806

Special economic zone regulations for Parliament

ROSE HALL, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has disclosed that in another two weeks, the long-awaited special economic zone (SEZ) regulations will be taken to Parliament.“I am pleased to announce — and I am making the announcement today (last Thursday) so that it will happen; yes, sometimes you have to make the announcements so that the people who make it happen, knows that it has happened — that in another two weeks the regulations will be brought to Parliament that will finally bring to light the special economic zones,” Holness said.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of Jamaica International Exhibition, which is a trade show that was hosted by the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association from June 1-3, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James last Thursday.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/special-economic-zone-regulations-for-parliament_100795?profile=1373