Well, dear readers, the first part of my weekly review can be found here: https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/midweek-special-a-jamaican-news-update-for-april-17-2013/
Here is Part Two…
“No new taxes”…today: The presentation of the Budget came and went without much fanfare. Local media diligently reported, analyzed and tweeted highlights. But we do know that this annual ritual is…just that. There are likely to be supplemental budgets, adjustments, and the “allocated” amounts may, in fact, never be allocated for their specific purposes, at least not in full. One did however feel irritated by this announcement of “no new taxes” in Parliament. The Finance Minister was duly applauded for it, with the usual loud banging of desks, on his side. The Opposition was not so amused, pointing out that we are still reeling from a huge (J$16 billion) tax package announced in February. And we have a sneaking feeling that there may be more taxes in the offing in the next few months. At least, many callers to radio talk shows seem perturbed about the huge increase in property taxes. We are worried, too. My retired mother-in-law, who is on a pension, has just been hit with a 130 per cent increase. Ours is likely to be similar; and Minister Phillips says properties may be re-evaluated, and taxes increased again on the new valuations.
What about all those who don’t pay? This is just an obsession of mine, but it really bugs me that there are hundreds – nay, thousands – of individuals and organizations out there in society (and you know who you are) who are simply not paying their way. The National Water Commission has just applied for a 19 per cent rate increase, and at the same time we know that huge amounts of water are lost (about thirty per cent I believe) due to theft – and their own carelessness… We know all about the widespread theft of electricity, mainly in inner city communities, many of whom have never paid a “light bill” in their life. And then there are the non-taxpayers. The St. Catherine Parish Council now has to pay for its services – street lights, garbage collection etc – from property taxes only. And it has only ever collected fifty per cent of its property taxes… I wish them luck. Meanwhile, law-abiding Jamaicans have to pay for all this waste and thievery.
At arms’ length: The Prime Minister’s support team kept journalists at a distance as she departed from the Budget debate. For security reasons, it was said. More on this below.
Yes, and the tiefing continues: I thought receiving stolen property was an offense; can someone clarify this please? In any case, the Gleaner reported that a former Mayor has returned a nice Rolex watch he received from a “political activist” who is among five charged with committing a robbery at Swiss Stores in downtown Kingston recently. This is all such inspiring stuff, eh?
Poor farmers: Another kind of thieving that financial analyst Dennis Chung referred to in an interview is what is called “praedial larceny” (a term I had never heard until I came to Jamaica). This means stealing farm produce and livestock, which hard-working farmers have reared and grown. In other words, taking their livelihood away from them. Like Dennis, I cannot understand why this criminal act, which goes on year after year unabated, is not taken more seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Perhaps it is because it affects rural residents, and we really only care about what happens in Kingston and a couple of other towns. I don’t know. But I believe the penalties should be much higher and the pursuit of these criminals should be aggressive and unrelenting. This isn’t happening. And when someone spots an alleged goat thief, an angry and frustrated mob attacks him.
Negative, negative (negative?) Having successfully side-stepped journalists on the way to making a speech, our Prime Minister and leader Portia Simpson Miller referred to the Azan issue. She used the first part of her speech to talk about the prevailing “negative, negative” attitude towards politicians (only one repeat this time – usually it’s two, as in “working, working, working.”) Her stony face and strident tone certainly had a negative effect on me. Why was the Prime Minister so upset?
Young Turks: Veteran journalist Barbara Gloudon is concerned at the prelude to all of this – the post-Cabinet press briefing during which the Information Minister bravely fended off an enthusiastic “tag team” of young broadcast journalists. Minister Falconer wasn’t entirely successful. I described this lively encounter in my Wednesday post. Ms. Gloudon (and government officials, as well as other traditional journalists) are all concerned about this apparent shift in the dynamics of media. But didn’t we all see this new era arriving? Ms. Gloudon writes in her weekly column: “There is very little which does not end up broadcast far and wide, and it doesn’t need old media to do it. Everybody has become his/her own reporter and to hell with the niceties. Everyone has his/her own truth and it can be stretched either way.”
Blame social media: Of course, the dreaded social media is to blame for all this. I trust that no one is thinking of “regulating” it. Russia and China have their own sanitized versions of the social media, while other countries simply throw bloggers in jail, or block the social media. I’m a little concerned – but hopefully with no good reason.
The “gladiators”: The Prime Minister was apparently ruffled at the behavior of our over-zealous “gladiators” as Ms. Gloudon calls them. Ms. Simpson Miller will not comment on the issue of Minister Richard Azan and the seemingly illegal shops, as she says an investigation is going on. The Prime Minister observed, “Why should I make a comment?” adding, somewhat obscurely, “The time has come when we should put country ahead of any personal ambition… I have given all of my adult life to the service of this country…” (Who was she referring to? Over-ambitious journalists? Did she not have ambitions in her long political career, or was it all purely selfless?) The occasion was the opening of a new business showroom. “This should be the news, not anything else!” declared Prime Minister. OK, journalists – you have been told what the news is to be.
Procedure is important: The Prime Minister’s team believe that procedure is important in the interaction between politicians and journalists. Maybe they need to revisit procedures, together.
Laughing it off: Meanwhile, CVM Television’s Andrew Cannon is not letting this go. He did catch Minister Azan and sought to question him, but Azan’s response was, “I sent a release, and that is enough. Have a good evening.” He repeated the last sentence several times and then seemed to find this highly amusing, walking off chuckling with one of his sidekicks. No success for the gladiator there; he did not seem to get the joke. But Mr. Azan seems to have plenty of supporters, mainly members of the People’s National Party. The head of that party’s youth organization (the PNPYO) said it was a “very humanitarian move” to build the shops.
Opening a small can of worms: The #Tissue#Issue has basically remained unresolved. We are really none the wiser. But it seems to have provoked a mini-trade war with Trinidad & Tobago. The issue may go to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for resolution. What a tangled web of toilet paper we weave; a bit like that ad when the whole thing unrolls…
Digicel Foundation: The Digicel Foundation is doing so much good work that it’s hard to keep up with them. Their focus on literacy is excellent and commendable. Now they have teamed up with USAID on an enrichment program that will benefit 40,000. We have to keep fighting the literacy fight.
Crayons do count: And most awesomely (is there such a word?) the local Continental Bakery has donated J$50 million – no mean sum indeed! – to the wonderful Crayons Count program initiated by Ms. Deika Morrison. Of course, she is over the moon. I liked what Continental CEO Gary “Butch” Hendrickson says: “We cannot lose another generation of children in this country; we have lost too many.” For more on the program which is a huge enhancer for early childhood education, go to this website: http://dogoodjamaica.org/crayonscount/ Congratulations to Ms. Morrison – this is her passion. And kudos to Continental!
Ralston Hyman has a dry style. I love his program on Power 106 FM, “Real Business.” I learn a great deal from it. And it’s streamed live on their website, too.
Sadly, more Jamaican citizens are no longer with us. The following have been murdered since my last post on Wednesday:
Michael Coombs, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Wentworth Patterson, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Unidentified woman, 20, Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
Garnett Gray, 29, Waterford, St. Catherine
Silbeta Brown, 52, Hopeton District, Manchester
Kareem Hines, 29, Montego Bay, St. James
Carlton Stone, 39, Montego Bay, St. James
Bryan English, 42, Robin’s Bay, St. Mary
Killed by police
Michael Robinson, 41, Molynes Road, Kingston
Errol Irvin, 22, St. Catherine North
Related articles. Local blog posts are in purple…
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead1.html The nation welcomes…no new taxes: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw-accuses-Gov-t-of-deception-after-Phillips–announcement_14101004 No new taxes? Shaw accuses Government of deception after Phillips announcement
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/February-tax-package-no-secret—Phillips_14115125 February tax package no secret – Phillips: Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/business/full-text-of-budget-presentation-by-finance-minister-dr-peter-phillips Full text of budget presentation by Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44217 Phillips can’t say if property taxes will go up again: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead2.html IMF deal by early May: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/focus/focus5.html Beyond the IMF: Ten things we must do to stimulate growth: Michael Ennis column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead9.html Unemployment on the rise: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters7.html A dry dock facility, seriously? Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Jamaica Welding Institute
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/opposition-demands-removal-of-restrictions-to-interviewing-prime-minister Opposition demands removal of restrictions to interviewing Prime Minister: RJR News
https://www.facebook.com/notes/think-jamaica/to-the-21st-century-journalists/372179526232136 To the 21st century journalists: Facebook Note by Durie Dee
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Tag-teaming-the-minister-_14100136 Tag teaming the minister: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Honourable-means-honourable_14083533 Honorable means honorable: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters3.html Questions on Azan-Spaldings Market saga: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Paul Ashley
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/cleisure/cleisure2.html Azan, defiance and impeachment: Gary Spaulding article/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Leadership–governance-and-the-reform-agenda_14110492 Leadership, governance and the reform agenda: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Runwiddit–again_14101237 Runwiddit, again: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead4.html Poorly-paid politicians: Jamaican political leaders among the worst paid in the region: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead7.html Ex-Mayor returns Rolex: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44251 Guardsman confirms arrest of a contractor in St. James drug bust: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/arrest-warrant-issued-for-movado Arrest warrant issued for Mavado: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Penwood-student-didn-t-have-to-die_14109184 Penwood student didn’t have to die: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead5.html Annual national survey on prisons shows mega increase in career criminals: Sunday Gleaner
http://dcjottings.blogspot.com/2013/04/if-we-are-to-solve-our-crime-problem.html If we are to solve our crime problem: dcjottings.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44255 Holness says state must adopt pro-citizen stance: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news4.html Colin Mann freed of charges: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/news/news1.html Lessons from Boston – cops want more CCTVs: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130420/cleisure/cleisure1.html The new gun ID fallacy: Gleaner Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-tables-CCJ-Bills_14100593 Government tables CCJ Bills: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news1.html Gay students overrun school! Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/ent/ent1.html Gender gap still hurts: Entertainers feel there is a far way to go before equality obtains: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/row-deepens-over-renaming-of-cornwall-regional-hospital Row deepens over renaming of Cornwall Regional Hospital: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44207 Theft of JPS cables resulted in corporate area water problems: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead7.html Help coming for 40,000 students: Digicel Foundation and USAID join forces to increase literacy levels: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/cleisure/cleisure1.html The toilet paper debate: Gleaner editorial
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/toilet-paper-row-dispute-between-jamaica-and-tt-heading-to-caricom Toilet paper row dispute between Jamaica and TT heading to CARICOM: RJR News
5 thoughts on “Here’s the second half of the week: April 21, 2013”
Aah, the knotty problem of people (rich who won’t and the poor who can’t) paying their way. It’s all too common across the developing world. This is why indirect taxes which people can’t avoid are so high in Turkey.
I don’t know why I sometimes start thinking these problems are unique to Jamaica… Although I have noticed from your past reflections on Turkey how much it reminds me of this little island! I had to do a little rant about it. It really gets to me (and quite a few of the non-payers CAN afford to, they’re just crooks, and won’t…)
a ‘nice’ rolex watch huh …. was that an exact quote from the article??
I keep my peace Re: any political issues….. it all upsets me so much but since I can’t figure out a solution I may as well hold off on the criticisms. I’ll instead smile at the efforts of the Digicel Foundation and Crayons Count 🙂
I need to see what exactly is going on with that tissue scandal! Something like that should have been long resolved. Tissue .. that is a sensitive matter as weird as it sounds.
Well do hope this week will be as productive as possible.. let the good news roll on and moment of silence for those we have lost!
No dear – that wasn’t an exact quote! But they were very expensive watches! Yes, there are always things to smile about indeed, although the other upsetting items are not just political – they are issues of governance and integrity, transparency, accountability that are much bigger than the “two tribes.” And the tissues… Well, it seems to have died down, for now… Thanks so much for your comments. The week has been terrific so far, in many ways!