Everything is pop-down again, it seems. (To my non-Jamaican readers: “pop-down” is quite a broad term meaning “exhausted, ruined,” or to coin another Jamaican phrase “mash-up.” It can also mean something is a flop or a failure).
The pop-downnest thing that I can think of right now is the economy. OK, we passed the first IMF test and re-submitted our proposal for completing tax reform measures (which are now late). BUT… (please note, I am not an economist. The notes below are just my layperson’s observations)…
* “There is no money in the system,” says local financier Aubyn Hill. He points out that the Bankers Association of Jamaica has been pleading for the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) to put more Jamaican Dollars into the system, but the BoJ is “mopping up.” Interest rates will start rising, no doubt.
* The Jamaican Dollar is on a continuous downward slide. Let’s call it J$104 to US$1, now.
* Jamaica is in recession (yes, and hardly anyone wants to use that word, but we have been in recession for at least a couple of years)
* The IMF has put us on an austerity diet, and how can that not make our recession worse? We are starving already. Business is contracting!
* Our fiscal deficit is worsening. Government revenues are down because the economy is shrinking, people are spending less and there are fewer taxes to collect!
* While the Government pays lip-service to support for small businesses, micro-businesses are being squeezed and say they are being “hounded” by the Government, which often forces them into the “underground” economy. Businesswoman Dr. Blossom O’Meally Nelson says small businesses are being regulated, but not facilitated.
* Red tape is throttling business; corruption is choking the society. The World Economic Forum says it is the biggest deterrent to business, ahead of our crippling crime problem. And corruption.
* Our Finance Minister Peter Phillips is the Minister of IMF. He rarely talks about anything else, but says we should anticipate a coming era of productivity! How? Where?
* Thank God for Ralston Hyman’s “Real Business.” 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., Monday to Friday, Power 106 FM. At least he gives me information. The Government doesn’t.
And on the crime issue, murders are increasing again in and around Montego Bay, St. James. Is there (again?) a connection with the lotto scam (five people were arrested and charged just a few days ago, in an operation involving U.S. law enforcement, it is reported). Western Kingston is struggling with growing crime and violence – residents hear more gunfire at nights.
Meanwhile, the whining continues… The leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness is talking about “hurtfulness” and “lie” in delegates meetings. His demeanor and emphasis on “what dem seh” – “dem” being the supporters of his challenger Audley Shaw – is tedious and does not reflect well on his leadership abilities. Why doesn’t he talk about what would make him a better leader? His vision? A planned television debate will not take place. Well, this is not a national election after all, and just depends on the votes of 5,000 delegates. I’m getting a bit tired of the calls to radio talk shows though, about “Ardley Shar” and “Anju ‘Olness.” Ugh.
The megawatt muddle: The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) is getting very antsy about the current state of the bidding process for 360 megawatts of energy to Jamaica. It transpires that none of the four entities which submitted proposals to provide 360 megawatts (MW) of base energy to Jamaica were able to convince the consultants that they could source the money to finance the project. What? What? Tomorrow is the deadline for the winning bidder, Azurest Cambridge, to come up with the security deposit. Can they do it? If so, can they deliver? If not, should the Chinese firm that Minister Phillip Paulwell allowed in at the last minute be the winner?
Why can’t the government follow its own rules? Why the obscurity, the confusion, the lack of transparency? Sometimes I get so confused I am wondering if these things are due to incompetence or corruption, or a bit of both. I suspect that many Members of Parliament, like Mr. Azan, flout the rules when it suits them. Whoever follows the rules “gets shafted,” our current Finance Minister once said cynically. From the horse’s mouth…
As columnist Dr. Garth Rattray writes (he always makes sense), it took “political power” to get the Spalding Market shops there, and that is the reason why the Office of the Contractor General found a perception of “political corruption.” How are we going to deal with this kind of behavior among our leaders? Or are we going to just shrug our shoulders?
Finally Omar Davies has focused on the carnage on our roads. His ministry is, after all, responsible. He has managed to take his eyes off the exciting mega projects for one moment.
Friday October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. How can we empower our girls, so that they don’t fall into the pregnancy trap and become marginalized victims of the patriarchal, cold and unfeeling society we live in? Do read the article below (“Worrying Signs”) and consider it, before October 11.
Meanwhile, Port Maria is choked with garbage. Every time it rains the rubbish backs up, blocks drains, and hey presto! It floods!
“Let’s not forsake our future for short-term gains.” This comment comes at the end of an excellent article in HuffPost Green, on the Portland Bight Protected Area/Goat Islands.
Some people and things to feel good about:
- 8 Hillcrest Avenue was the former home of Dr. Olive Lewin. Apart from being an astonishing cultural powerhouse, this slender lady with a warm, intelligent smile was one of the kindest and most giving of Jamaican women, who loved her country and its people so deeply. She was also a lovely neighbor to us. After she became too frail to live there (she passed away on April 10) her former home was transformed into a courtyard with cafés, a cool art gallery and a deli, among other small businesses. I was so happy that last weekend there was a celebration of Dr. Lewin’s life and the dedication of a plaque by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (always a celebrator of Jamaican culture) at #8. I shall pop along there shortly and see (good excuse for a cup of tea and other delights at Tea Tree Creperie!)
- Megan Deane is such a smart lady. I have great respect for her financial expertise and her sound business acumen. She is doing well with her credit bureau. Congrats, Megan!
- Three Caribbean tech entrepreneurs will be traveling soon – to compete before a live audience and a panel of mobile experts in Chisinau, Moldova on November 1. Jamaicans Dwayne Samuels and Jerome Campbell (both graduates of Ingrid Riley’s Kingston Beta) and Trinidad’s Ade Inniss-King were selected by the VentureOut Challenge, an initiative of infoDev and CRDF. I am sure they will make the most of this great opportunity. Good luck!
- Randy McLaren is the Kriativ Aktivis! A bright and creative young man with a mission to raise awareness among Jamaicans and create a kinder society. Read Kate Chappell’s great blog post about him, below.
And the sad list of names never seems any shorter. My deepest sympathies to the families of all those murdered in the past three days on this “pop-down” island of ours…
Clarence Morgan, 61, Brandon Hill, Clarendon
George Simpson, 77, Grays/Annotto Bay, St. Mary
Kenneth Simpson, 67, Anchovy, St. James
André Beckford, 27, Cambridge, St. James
Gemin Sinclair, 34, Cambridge, St. James
Brandon Wood, 19, Canterbury, St. James
Killed by the police:
Unidentified, Waterford/Passagefort, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Fraser’s Content, St. Catherine
Articles and links of interest:
http://www.our.org.jm/ourweb/evaluation-summary-–-base-load-capacity-project Evaluation summary: Base Load Capacity Project: Office of Utilities Regulation
http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=48323 Azurest was best option for 360MW project – consultants: Gleaner/Power 106 FM
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Pay-us-today–or-we-ll-strike–_15153200 “Pay us today, or we’ll strike”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/lead/lead1.html Tough forecast: Phillips says difficult times still to come after completion of first IMF test: Gleaner
http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2013/091913a.htm 2013 High-Level Caribbean Forum: “Caribbean Challenges, Growth and Progress on the Small States Initiative”: imf.org
http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13374.htm IMF completes first review under Extended Fund Facility for Jamaica… imf.org
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48341 Jamaica submits second IMF letter of intent: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/lead/lead4.html PSOJ welcomes new date for tax incentive law: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130929/business/business5.html GoJ owes financial companies J$16 billion: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131002/lead/lead5.html Jamaica facing possible currency crisis: André Haughton column/Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/35141 Jamaica leads the region in setting up private credit bureaus: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Red-tape-worse-than-crime-for-businesses_15173793 Red tape worse than crime for businesses: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/cleisure/cleisure1.html Cuba’s head start on logistics hub: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130929/business/business8.html Who has the will to deliver growth? David Jessop column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Guyana-welcomes-Fly-Jamaica_15155070 Guyana welcomes Fly Jamaica: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/What-Caricom-leaders-should-have-said-at-the-UN_15154883 What CARICOM leaders should have said at the UN: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/cleisure/cleisure3.html Not cashing in on gay tourist dollar: Maurice Tomlinson op-ed/Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20131001/news/news1.html Gays seek men with bathroom ads: Jamaica Star
http://marogkingdom.blogspot.com/2013/09/cleaning-up-beach-along-old-airport.html Cleaning up the beach along the old airport road, Montego Bay: Beyond the Marog Kingdom
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-knapp-phd/back-from-the-brink-to-ba_b_4004730.html?utm_hp_ref=tw Back from the Brink to Back to the Brink: HuffPost Green
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw-advocates-term-limits-at-campaign-launch Shaw advocates term limits at campaign launch: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48305 JLP leader Holness, challenger Shaw to sign code of conduct today: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/cleisure/cleisure2.html Defining political corruption: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/If-I-d-seen-it_15168326 If I’d seen it…says Herbert Thompson: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Tread-cautiously–Mr-Contractor-General_15155224 Tread cautiously, Mr. Contractor General: Sunday Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131002/letters/letters3.html OCG is my baby, not the PNP’s! Letter to the Gleaner from Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Holness-offers-olive-branch_15161227 Holness offers olive branch: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130930/news/news7.html Ackee vendor still shaken up by police incident: Jamaica Star
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/murder-rate-continues-to-climb Murder rate continues to climb: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/news/news1.html Transport Ministry committed to reducing road fatalities: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/lead/lead4.html UTech staff have no confidence in the institution: Gleaner
http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/kriativ-aktivis-randymclarenrm-talks-about-how-you-helped-him/ Kriativ Aktivis Randy McLaren talks about how YOU helped him: Jamaican Journal
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Worrying-signs_14877467 Worrying signs: 15 – 16-year-olds make up majority of teen mothers admitted to the Women’s Centre in 2011/2012L Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Canadian-sailors-bring-joy-to-Jacques-Road_15156555 Canadian sailors bring joy to Jacques Road: Jamaica Observer