Jamaica: COVID-19 vaccinations and post-pandemic economic recovery intertwine

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Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, delivering the keynote address during Friday’s (July 9) groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of IMCA Jamaica Limited’s corporate office on Spanish Town Road in Kingston. Photo: Michael Sloley

By Douglas McIntosh

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime minister, Andrew Holness, says the pace of Jamaica’s recovery from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will largely depend on how diligently persons practice infection prevention and control measures to contain domestic spread, “and how we take the vaccines when they are available.”

Speaking Friday, July 9, at the ground-breaking ceremony for IMCA Jamaica Limited’s corporate headquarters in Kingston, Holness noted that the pace of recovery from COVID-19 in many countries globally paralleled their vaccination rates.

“So countries where we are seeing high vaccination rates, we are seeing their economies recovering faster. That will have a spillover effect, as well…we will see the impact in our tourism numbers [as] people will want to travel, now that they are fully vaccinated,” he pointed out.

The prime minister cautioned, however, that Jamaica “cannot allow vaccine hesitancy to impact the pace of our recovery”, adding, “the same people who do not take the vaccine, who get ill [from COVID-19], and demand spaces in our hospitals and treatment from our doctors will say ‘why isn’t the government providing the resources to do so’, [when they are unable to readily access medical care, due to increased demand],” he said.

Prime minister Holness maintained that the requisite resources, such as revenue, that are needed for public healthcare delivery are derived from, among other sources, expenditures by tourists and investors, emphasizing that “there is a connection”, he continued. “So I’m urging every single Jamaican [to] take the vaccine when your time comes. The quicker we take them… and we have demonstrated that we can roll out vaccines very quickly… is the more appealing our economy will look when people have to make their travel decisions [and say]…‘Jamaica’s vaccination rate is high and comparable to where I’m coming from… so that is a safe place to be’.”

Holness said the government remained optimistic that Jamaica will receive additional supplies of vaccines, from which “[we expect] to be able to treat with the vulnerable groups in the society, fully by August,” he indicated. “Once we have cleared [those] groups, then we will start to progress down the line in terms of other age groups of persons who would be given access to the vaccines.”

IMCA Jamaica Limited, whose parent company is headquartered in the Dominican Republic, has partnered with Sygnus Group subsidiary – Sygnus Real Estate Finance – to construct its corporate office on land along the Spanish Town Road industrial corridor at a cost of approximately US$8 million.

The venture is expected to employ 200 workers during the construction phase and 82 permanent staff members upon completion. IMCA Jamaica is the sole local distributor of the globally renowned Caterpillar brand heavy-duty construction and mining equipment.

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