KINGSTON, Jamaica, February 1, 2008 – Prime Minister Bruce Golding said a new international airport complete with customs and immigration services will be constructed at Duckenfield in Portland, as part of the government’s thrust to diversify the tourism product and take advantage of the value added options in the industry.
He was speaking on Wednesday (Jan. 30) at a Real Estate Symposium hosted by the Realtors Association of Jamaica at the Knustford Court Hotel in Kingston.
Mr. Golding pointed to the importance of getting the ‘right mix’ of products for the industry, and the legislative framework would have to be adjusted to allow for options such as time-share. He said the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and Civil Aviation Authority have been instructed to conduct feasibility studies pursuant to the construction of the airport, while the National Works Agency will look at upgrading and realigning existing roadways where necessary.
In the meantime, Mr. Golding said Cabinet has appointed a new Board of Directors for the Natural Resources and Conservation Authority (NRCA) and that at its next sitting, it will be asked to approve the same individuals as members of the board and advisory council of the Town and Country Planning Authority and the National Environment and Planning Agency. This is in keeping with a commitment to streamline the approvals process for development projects.
Turning to developments in the real estate industry, Mr. Golding said public sector agencies would have to devote more of their resources to providing housing solutions for persons in lower income groups. He said private developers would be called upon to cater more to the upper income groups and this would mean examining how to leverage public sector funds with funding available in the private sector, in order to increase the pool of funds available for development at the higher end of the market.
He said the current system of titling was important to the development process and as such, the government would be reviewing the process of awarding land titles to enable more persons to have certification of land ownership. The Prime Minister said the problem of unplanned development was being addressed by the Ministry of Water and Housing, which is also reviewing legislation relating to strata housing. On the matter of transfer tax and stamp duty, Mr. Golding said he hoped to get a report on a range of issues relating to taxation, in time for consideration in the next fiscal year.
Mr. Golding thanked the realtors for their contribution to the economy, noting that the construction sector was an important barometer of the health of the economy, with housing playing a key role. Topics to be covered at the one-day realtors symposium include Financing large scale real estate development in Jamaica, by Marjorie Seeberan of the National Commercial Bank and Creating a lifestyle of wealth in real estate, by Dr. Lorna Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of Harmonization Limited.(JIS)