UDC Moves to Restore Financial Viability

The management of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is moving to contain operating expenses, as part of measures to improve the agency’s financial viability.

General Manager of the Corporation, Desmond Malcolm, says coming out of an Auditor General’s report, which found several operational efficiencies and “huge losses”, an operational programme has been set in motion.

“The UDC Board and Management decided to come up with a number of initiatives which, in effect, would stop the bleeding of the company … reducing the loss and ensuring that, as quickly as possible, the UDC can move from a loss position to a break-even position,” he stated.

He was addressing a press conference held recently at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James, to indicate the way forward for the organisation.

As part of the improvement measures, Mr. Malcolm informed that the UDC will be taking “a serious inventory” of energy management and stationery use throughout its entire operation with a view to cutting costs.

“We will also be monitoring salaries, allowances, travel, and so on, to reduce or at least contain those expenses,” he pointed out.

Turning to the operations of the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the General Manager told JIS News that focus will be placed on reducing energy costs and marketing the facility.

“One of the areas of high expenses is energy and we do have plans to make the Convention Centre more energy efficient … it was discovered that there are issues of massive underground water leaks and high water bills. We were able to effectively deal with that, so much so, that our water bill has dropped by as much as 400 per cent.  We are also going to focus a lot on marketing because that is where the heart of this operation is.  We need to get conventions and other activities going on in this centre so we can, at least, reach a break-even position,” Mr. Malcolm said.

He informed that several proposals have been put forward for the use of the facility, including casino gaming and accommodation, and there is a suggestion to develop the property across from the centre through a partnership arrangement.

The UDC General Manager said another option being “seriously looked at” is leasing the facility to an operator.

“I don’t think that operating a convention centre, necessarily, is the best thing for the UDC. So that is another option for us, to lease the assets to an operator, and developing the land across the street for a hotel or any other such business that would bring economic activity to this area,” he stated.