THE Government will be spending $100 million this financial year to improve Coronation Market in downtown Kingston.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke advised the House of Representatives’ Standing Finance Committee on Wednesday that the $100-million is an initial spend on the market, which has suffered immensely from fires and other threats up to December 15, 2022, when the last fire was reported.
The funds acquired by the ministry were made available through the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) loan programme, which Dr Clarke explained is more conducive to the needs of developing countries like Jamaica.
“The drawdowns that we made were a little different, not from what was originally the case,” the minister explained, noting that the RFI was preferred to the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) which helps low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries build resilience to external shocks, and ensures sustainable growth, contributing to their longer-term balance of payments stability.
He pointed out that the drawdown from the RFI has a five-year repayment limit, while the IMF’s RST loans have a 20-year repayment limit, which means slower repayment of its loans. However, he was convinced that the IMF’s bodies will iron out their loan issues by next year.
“We have just done some shuffling to provide the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with $100 million for the KSAMC to begin repairs at the Coronation Market,” said Clarke.
He said that his ministry is looking for the long awaited repairs to the market to be started, and suggested that the equitable thing for Opposition MPs to do is to allow it, with the resources.
Formerly known as the Grass Yard, the market was constructed in 1936 when Hubert AL Simpson served as mayor of Kingston. Britain’s Queen Victoria was crowned in June 1938, and the Grass Yard was formally renamed Coronation Market to commemorate the occasion.
The market, which is the leading agricultural destination in the city, provides some 75 per cent of the nation’s agricultural produce. However, it became unusable in 2010, due to fires and other acts of disturbance which started following the security forces’ operation in neighbouring Tivoli Gardens that year. It never received the level of rebuilding it required, since then, despite assurances from Government.
In 2013, another fire razed a section of the market, flattening at least 30 wooden stalls, leaving most vendors with a challenge to recover their livelihoods.
On December 15, 2022, another fire razed a section of the market, destroying more vendors’ stalls.
On Wednesday, Dr Clarke announced that the $320 million raised from the sale of Constant Spring Market, which was demolished to make way for expansion of Constant Spring Road, was placed into the Consolidated Fund.