Gov’t fast-track­ing di­vest­ment of AMC com­plex

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Christo­pher Serju/ Gleaner Writer christo­pher.serju@glean­erjm.com

THE GOV­ERN­MENT is fast­track­ing plans to divest the Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (AMC) com­plex at 188 Span­ish Town Road in Kingston on con­di­tion that in­vestors con­vert it into a sta­teof-the-art agro-pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity, with Min­is­ter of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Aud­ley Shaw pro­ject­ing that work to this ef­fect will get un­der way be­fore year end.

Shaw made the dis­clo­sure while tour­ing a sec­tion of the Spring Plain Agro-Park in Claren­don last Fri­day as the first batch of West In­dian red pep­pers from the farm of Gary Coul­ton was be­ing packed for trans­porta­tion to GK Foods’ agro-pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in Houn­slow, St El­iz­a­beth.

The agri­cul­ture min­is­ter ex­plained that any di­vest­ment would be done in part­ner­ship with the pri­vate sec­tor.

“We are look­ing at start­ing this year, and we are seek­ing to get part­ner­ships go­ing with pri­vate­sec­tor com­pa­nies. This is not Gov­ern­ment run­ning things now. This is Gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­tat­ing the pri­vate sec­tor to make things hap­pen,” he said.

How­ever, Agro-In­vest­ment

Cor­po­ra­tion (AIC) Chair­man Vi­tus Evans hinted that given the scope of red tape in­volved in the pro­cure­ment process to en­sure trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, Shaw’s time­line might be too op­ti­mistic.

Lo­cated at the AMC com­plex, the AIC grew out of the merger of the Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and Agri­cul­tural Sup­port Ser­vices Pro­duc­tive Projects Fund Lim­ited. It now op­er­ates as a depart­ment of the Min­istry of In­dus­try, Com­merce Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries as a busi­ness-fa­cil­i­ta­tion unit, with re­spon­si­bil­ity for in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion and mar­ket de­vel­op­ment.

“We have a num­ber of en­quires. We don’t have part­ners, and then again, be­cause of the whole pro­cure­ment is­sue and ac­tu­ally hav­ing to do it right, in terms of proper gov­er­nance, and it is some­thing that we have to ad­ver­tise,” he told The Gleaner, point­ing to pos­si­ble de­lays. “We want to have open bid­ding, open com­pe­ti­tion, and ac­tu­ally have that hap­pen, and this is where we are. The pol­icy de­ci­sions have been taken about it. It (the com­plex) has to go, but we have to try to main­tain it in agri­cul­ture for agri­cul­tural pur­poses.”

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER SERJU

Farmer Gary Coul­ton (left) breaks open a ripe West In­dian red pep­per to al­low Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Aud­ley Shaw to get a good sniff duirng a tour of his farm on the Springffie­ld Agro-Park in Claren­don. Gen­eral man­ager of GK Foods & Ser­vices – Grace Agro Pro­ces­sors, Mau­reen Den­ton, keeps a safe dis­tance away.

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