China, Jamaica Talk Infrastructure Project

China Jamaica
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Above: Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Zheng Qingdian and Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller met today with Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Zheng Qingdian to discuss her government’s desire to make changes to the structure and implementation of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme, which is funded by China.

Simpson Miller was joined at the meeting by Works Minister Dr Omar Davies, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill.

There was a “frank exchange of views” at the meeting, and Zheng committed to act immediately to present Jamaica’s desires to the relevant authorities during his forthcoming visit to Beijing, the Prime Minister’s office said.

The ruling People’s National Party had signaled that it would immediately initiate contact with the Chinese government about the project if it were to win the election, which it did on Dec. 29.

The JDIP is funded in the amount of an available $400 million provided by the the Export Import Bank (EXIM) of China, aimed at a large-scale works project to improve Jamaica’s roads, traffic systems and bridges.

It commenced in 2010, with plans for a five-year commitment.

A series of criticisms about the implementation of the program led to the resignation in November of former Works Minister Mike Henry, who as Minister had stewarded the programme.

The then-opposition PNP, in a statement at the time, called the resignation a “belated response to the scandalous conduct of the entire government in relation to the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme.”