Gov’t Defends Airport Divestment ‘Not A Sale, It’s A Very Good Deal’ – PM

 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has assured Jamaicans that they have received the ‘best possible deal’ out of Wednesday’s signing of a historic divestment agreement.

That agreement cedes operational responsibility of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) through a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement to a Mexican firm.

The concession agreement is between the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) and the Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico S.A.B. De C.V. (GAP). Giving the main address at the signing, Mr Holness said that once the sentimentality was pushed aside, Jamaicans would come to the realization that the government isn’t arguably the best entity to be tasked with the management of airports.

“It is important that the Jamaican public understands that the people who will be managing the airports are specialists, not people who ‘fly by night’ – and when we strip away the emotion, the Government of Jamaica retains the ownership of the asset. We own it, but we have to face the fact that the Government of Jamaica was never and probably never be specialists in the management of airports,” he argued.

 

“At the end of the day, what I believe what the public wants, more than anything else, is a well-managed facility that delivers a service efficiently and at an affordable price,” Holness said.

The Prime Minister further contended that his government’s economic growth strategy is in full swing, citing PPPs as “excellent vehicles for unlocking the value of assets, reducing debt and mobilising local and foreign investment.”

Holness said the transaction represents another successful public-private partnership deal, coming on the heels of similar arrangements with the Kingston Container Terminal and the North-South Highway.

GAP, a Mexican corporation, through its subsidiary, PAC Kingston Airport Limited officially signed the 25-year NMIA concession agreement on Wednesday, October 10 at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in St. Andrew. Operational control for GAP comes into effect in October 2019.

Under the agreement, GAP will be responsible for improving the airport’s land and air operational efficiency, and financing and completing a modernisation programme, at an estimated cost of over US$110 million.

By Gavin Riley

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