Wednesday, 02 May 2012 02:30
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St John's - Major infusions of foreign direct investment (FDI) are in the cards for the Antigua & Barbuda economy. Ground-breakings on a range of investment projects are expected to take place by the end of 2012.
The 10 investment projects approved during the first quarter of 2012 amount to a value of $694 M. Of this, $683 M represents an infusion of foreign direct investment from seven of the 10 projects. The other three projects represent domestic investment of just over $10 M. The 10 investment projects are together expected to create 492 jobs in the relatively short term.
Further on into 2012, in the medium term, the advent of the Zacky-Mann Poultry Farm is slated to add an estimated 600 construction jobs to the economy at the outset. Coming into production on a phased basis, the Zacky-Mann operation will eventually offer 800 permanent jobs.
Zacky-Mann will produce poultry products (including eggs) for export to the region and for the local market. The project, which may be characterized as import substitution on a grand scale, will seek to service the multi-billion dollar regional appetite for poultry.
In the meantime, under the Construct Antigua & Barbuda Initiative (CABI), 48 construction projects have been approved to a value of $22 M. A further 32 applications are under review.
This is the glowing forecast delivered by Dr McChesney “Mac” Emanuel, currently chair of the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA). Dr Emanuel spoke on Tuesday, during an in-studio appearance on the Colin Sampson Show.
Readers are invited to visit the CARIBARENA.COM video archive
to view excerpts from the discussion.
In actual fact, “Mac” Emanuel’s appearance on CARIBARENA.COM did not mark the first time this optimistic report had been delivered. The ABIA chair had made roughly the same remarks (with fewer interruptions) nearly a week before, during the inaugural quarterly press conference held by the minister of Finance, the Economy & Public Administration.
However, the assembled journalists, snowed under by a virtual blizzard of information unaccompanied by any visual aids, were barely able to cope with the address delivered by the star of the occasion, Minister Harold Lovell. This narrow focus resulted in the encouraging report from the ABIA being lost in the shuffle.
Emanuel stressed that the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) has sought to play a more active role in the drive to attract and/or generate investment in the economy. The ABIA has worked to support the government in its imperative to create employment, and to boost the economic activity that will generate confidence in the economy.
The ABIA chair outlined a four-phase programme, beginning in the immediate period with an economic stimulus programme. The levels of investment mobilized by the projects already approved for 2012 will go far toward achieving this goal.
In the short term, the focus will be on economic growth. One feature of the plan is to market CABI to overseas nationals of Antigua & Barbuda. A second feature is to move aggressively into trade in health through investing in the health services industry.
In this connection, Dr Emanuel made reference to the proposed Cancer Center Eastern Caribbean, a public-private joint venture involving the governments of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The cancer center is intended to bring first-world cancer care within the reach of OECS residents.
The short-term economic growth programme also stresses wellness, and urges current operators of hospitality plants to factor health and wellness into their future development plans. Investment in infrastructure to generate jobs and facilitate economic activity is part of the plan.
The Zacky-Mann poultry operation mentioned earlier forms part of the medium-term economic growth plan. In one sense, an enclave industry servicing the large regional export market, the Zacky-Mann plan is to absorb all the marketable egg production of local poultry farmers.
While no estimate was on hand for the dollar value of the investment, the scope of the project suggests that the Zacky-Mann development could be a game-changer for the OECS balance of payments. The project may break ground before the end of 2012, Emanuel said.
Another feature of the medium-term plan is the “Outsource Antigua & Barbuda” initiative, designed to carve out a share of the international web outsourcing market.
In the longer term, the ABIA will seek to realise the government’s economic programme, which will be based on established principles of development economics. The aim, said Emanuel, is to place Antigua & Barbuda on a path of stable and sustainable economic growth.
Like his minister, the ABIA chair hopes that all Antiguans & Barbudans will work together, and that each will seek to play his or her proper role in national development.