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An overhead view of a section of New Kingston in Jamaica (File photo)

Provide incentives and they will come! Gov’t to do more to attract people, investors to St Thomas

An overhead view of a section of New Kingston in Jamaica (File photo)

Government-issued tax incentives would foster greater housing development in St Thomas, which would lead to greater commercial growth and employment, said President of the Realtors Association of Jamaica, Andrew James.

President of the Realtors Association of Jamaica, Andrew James. (Photo: Realtors Association of Jamaica)

Drawing the comparison between the parish of St Thomas to the also nearby St Catherine, James said that the latter can become a feasible alternative with the reasonably priced housing and an improved roadway.

“St Catherine has received so much affordable development over the decades yet St Thomas which is closer to Kingston has not.  Yet this can change and widen the real estate stock. The first thing to improve with St Thomas is the road network.  I understand that the government is investing in that,” James said. “Plus, there is the condition of flooding which the road network improvement will address. Once those conditions are sorted, you can be sure that housing developers will be heading in that direction. You have to buy now because once the road infrastructure is finished you will see the prices go up.”

“Government should look at creating tax-free zones in St Thomas to get businesses out there. Incentives need to be out there so that private investors will go there.”

President of the Realtors Association of Jamaica, Andrew James

He noted that the development of Portmore in St Catherine, and other communities in the parish, happened over time and now presents a workable choice for people who would otherwise have to contend with the ever-growing demand in Kingston.

“St Catherine wasn’t built over a short term. People used to link Portmore with dump up land.  Not anymore, because houses now selling for over J$20 million.”

The toll road leading to Portmore, St Catherine.

What’s more, James said commerce would increase in St Thomas, often referred to as “the forgotten parish”, if the government provided incentives for businesses to begin operations.

“Government should look at creating tax-free zones in St Thomas to get businesses out there. Incentives need to be out there so that private investors will go there. Once investors are there, they will need workers and a brand new city can be created out there,” James said.

More housing developments in St Thomas would lead to greater economic activity, James said. (Photo: National Housing Trust)

“My advice to persons shopping in St Thomas; real estate is long term investment. You might not see a sharp increase in investment.  So give it a five to 10 year horizon and I believe in 10 years, St Thomas will be big. Once corporate Jamaica sees the road network and sets up out there and then everyone else will follow.”