In response to an opposition leader’s declaration that the country’s bauxite levy is “dead Act just waiting for burial,” Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw assured representatives on Tuesday that the levy is still in place and will continue to fund the Capital Development Fund (CDF) that it has replenished for over four decades.
The remarks came in relation to concerns raised by Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips in the course of debate regarding a withdrawal of J$715.6 million (US$5.6 million) from the fund to cover bauxite-related expenses incurred by the government.
“I readily agree that we have to seek to get the levy back on track as soon as possible. And, I want to give the country the assurance that the Government has not abandoned the levy programme,” Shaw explained.
He went on to say that, during negotiations with Jiuquan Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. (JISCO) for the sale of Alumina Partners of Jamaica (Alpart), the tolling of the levy indefinitely was never contemplated.
“In fact, there has been a five-year period that has been placed on the issue of the levy from JISCO,” he explained. “So, the question is, these are issues which we have had to contend with, in terms of the balancing of what currently is noted as a depleting national resource, with the need for us to get economic growth going once again.”
Shaw continued by saying that Noranda Bauxite’s new owner New Day has added J$3 million (US$23,500) for the period between November of last year to March of this year.
“In fact, the amount that is now in the Capital Development Fund (CDF) is some J$1.589 billion (US$12.4 million),” Shaw stated. “Of course, when the J$715 million (US$5.6 million) is taken out, another J$874 million (US$6.9 million) will remain in the CDF.”
Shaw concluded by saying that the current government is amenable to engaging in discussions with the Opposition and other stakeholders regarding disbursing money from the fund for bauxite-dependent communities.
“Some money can be taken out of that (CDF) towards special programmes in the communities,” he explained.