|$2.2 billion Tamana Intech Park opens |
By Miranda La Rose Friday, June 27 2014
FIFTEEN years after the sod was turned for the development of the Tamana InTech Park, the economic zone is now opened for business after an initial investment of $2.2 billion in infrastructural development.
Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Vasant Bharath formally opened the park on Wednesday by unveiling a plaque and cutting the ribbon to the “Flagship Office Complex,” the main building on the site at present. The eco-friendly high-tech building was erected at a cost of $100 million.
Responding to questions from the media after the opening ceremony Bharath admitted that negotiations for the lease of the Flagship Office Complex was well advanced and the signing is due to take place later this week.
He responded positively when asked if the investor was an Indian company that will be engaged in medical care and health tourism.
He would not divulge more details. Nevertheless, he said Cabinet has already approved the deal, and the business should be opened to the public by September. The building covers 140,00 sq feet.
Delivering the feature address, Bharath said in addition to the lease of the main building, Columbus Communications has agreed to the facilitation of a US$135 million Tier Three Data Centre investment.
This will position Trinidad and Tobago, he said as the regional hub for high quality disaster data recovery and as a production centre for local and regional planners.
Certain parts of the park, he said will be set aside for information communications technology in a bid to provide services and goods for the Western Hemisphere.
Already, he said that the ministry has received a number of enquiries from global providers and engaged in discussions with some who want to relocate.
The first priority of the park, Bharath said is to attract high value tenants that will create high value jobs.
The type of businesses being sought, he said will hopefully be able to repay the $2.2 billion investment which included over $240 million in liabilities.
The liabilities were monies owing to contractors, which the People’s Partnership Government, he said inherited in 2010 and which have since been paid off.
The initial investment, he said “is not just a financial investment, but an investment in the people and creating high value sustainable jobs.”
Giving a background to the park which is located on 1,100 acres of land, Bharath said that the sod was turned in 1999 by then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, Mervyn Asam — who was present at the ceremony — and Vishnu Ramlogan.
At the time the estimate for the facility, which was to be known as a “National Science, Technology and Innovation Park,” was in the sum of $691 million. With the change in government in 2001, he said that construction on the park started in 2006.
The infrastructural project — which includes underground facilities (electrical among others), road networks and ICT infrastructure - was then estimated at $1 billion. It has now been completed at a cost of $2.2 billion.
The objective of the park as an economic zone remains basically the same as when it was conceptualised, he said. Its objective is to create a competitive advantage for the diversification of the economy away from oil and gas through information communication technology, tourism, agro-processing and downstream industries among other areas.
Noting the importance of economic zones to the development of economies, Bharath said according to the International Labour Organisation there were 176 economic zones in 46 countries in 1986. This has now grown to over 3,000 across 135 countries.