(Jamaica Gleaner) The government has issued a stern warning to Jamaicans not to engage in xenophobic discussions, which could affect the decision by the Chinese to invest in the country.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the tone of the discussion surrounding Chinese investment was less than desirable.
“If we continue to have the discussion this way, the question I want to ask is whether we want to say to the Chinese, do not invest in Jamaica,” the prime minister said.
Her statement comes against the background of criticism that Chinese nationals are being brought to the island by their employers to take jobs that can be performed by Jamaicans.
Opposition Member of Parliament Pearnel Charles had questioned whether the Government had negotiated with the Chinese for a percentage of the jobs on certain projects to be done by the Chinese.
Simpson Miller denied knowledge of such agreements, saying “if that existed, it would not have been negotiated under my administration”.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, responding to Simpson Miller, said Chinese investment in Jamaica was extremely important.
“However, foreign direct investment comes with some conditions. Some of them are known upfront and some of them are discovered as you go along,” Holness noted.
He said it was the duty of the Opposition to ensure that as “investments come in, it is the people who benefit and that the conditions are known upfront”.
The Government has been courting Chinese investment, which, it says, is critical to stimulating economic growth and development. However, segments of the population have been viewing the Chinese investments with scepticism, with some persons suggesting that the Chinese investment is a purely geo-political strategy.
Simpson Miller yesterday attempted to douse those flames and stopped short of saying that those criticising the Chinese investments should put their money into local projects.