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Investors courted to gamble on casino resorts

Published:Wednesday | October 6, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, gestures while making a presentation to Parliament on Tuesday.
Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, gestures while making a presentation to Parliament on Tuesday.

Applications for the award of Integrated Resort Development (IRD) orders open today as the Government moves to attract billions of dollars from the casino gaming industry and investors, more than a decade after the required legislation was passed.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke told Parliament on Tuesday that a 10-member enterprise team will begin evaluating applications from investors.

The team is also expected to manage the selection of approved Integrated Resort Developments.

But the ultimate decision for the granting of a licence lies solely with the finance minister, raising questions of transparency with regard to the final decision.

Clarke said while the granting of the licence is in the hands of the minister, a decision will be made based on the recommendation of the enterprise team.

“If I happen to disagree with the enterprise team, I will make that known and give my reason why. The purpose of this structure is to give some transparency and an institutional framework for what is an important award,” said Clarke.

He was responding to Opposition Spokesman on Finance Julian Robinson.

Clarke said the enterprise team, which is to be chaired by Dr Dana Dixon, includes persons with a diversity of skills and experience, including knowledge of Jamaica’s anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism framework.

He said the IRD orders are structured to fall within exclusive zones, with each order being for a different area.

There are expected to be three exclusive zones that will be coupled with major tourism areas, Clarke said.

The zones will include Hanover, Westmoreland, St James, and Trelawny.

There is a four-month window within which interested parties can make applications.

Clarke said that the analysis and award are likely to take place two months after the application has been made.

kimone.francis@gleanerjm.com