I decided to open this section with a couple of quotes to make people aware of the gross double standards and illustrate what the people are up against. This section highlights why the people should take immediate action; it should be a denouement to the downfall of the parliamentarians and the end of governance for the 1%. Quite frankly, the people are continuously lied to and are aided by a complicit media.
The tweet below is what he told the people:
The measure of a good government is how they protect and actively empower the weakest and most dispossessed in the society. The measure of a good government frugality and careful management of the peoples' money and income to protect from inflation and unnecessary taxes.
Cannot argue with that logic. He also informed the world, quote: "Fiscal discipline is now a part of the DNA of the Government." Really? Both statements need to be examined.
He brags about debt reduction (i.e. austerity measures) but his government has borrowed at least US$2.5 billion which appears to have fallen into a black hole. Borrowing is not a problem if you know that you can service the debt. If the loan period is 20 years how will we repay US$125m plus interest every year? Will the US$2.5 billion be used to create wealth for the island and generate US$125m annually to service repayments? History tells us NO! Hence we will remain under severe austerity for the foreseeable future.
So our debt is increasing and the people have no idea what has happened to the US$2.5b. Is it part of the US$3b reserves sitting in the Bank of Jamaica that he and the minister of finance are so in love with?
He could invest some of the billions in a renewable energy industry that could pay for itself. However, Mr Fiscal Discipline et al plan for private ownership of the renewable energy industry, for the rich to profit from being rich and make money from our natural resources. The payback period for a solar investment is around 4 years, so remarkable returns are possible but the Jamaican people should not benefit from free solar radiation. Every solar panel, wind turbine and waste-to-energy plant must be owned by a foreigner and Jamaica must remain dependent. These are shared policies, both parties want private ownership and the people are oblivious that they are being sold out.
US$150 million lost every year
In 2015 the country's electricity bill was US$118m and that excluded secondary and tertiary educational institutions. If we include those institutions the average annual bill is around US$150m then 4×150m = US$600m is needed to take public infrastructure off the grid. That sounds like a lot of money but the JLP has borrowed almost US$2b from the gangster trio, namely the IMF, World Bank and the IDB whose mandates state that they lend to eradicate poverty.
So around US$600m is needed to solar power primary schools, streetlights and public infrastructure. If US$1b was borrowed from the IMF (the extra $400m infrastructure improvements, waste-to-energy plants and contingencies) over the same 20 year loan period the repayments would be US$50m plus interest.
Let me repeat that, the repayments would be US$52.5m after the 3 year grace period.
If we include all educational institutions, we are currently paying JPS around US$150m.
So here are the choices that the JLP and PNP governments had years ago (as far back as 2009 waste-to-energy was discussed and it was estimated back then that it could generate 18% of our electricity and annual savings of US$60m were possible):
Pay JPS around US$150m annually and continue to have nothing positive or tangible to show for it:
Austerity and crippling debt
A currency that depreciates 5-10% per annum
An education system not fit for purpose
Rising school fees
Teacher migration and brain drain
Decay, hopelessness and suffering
Rising crime that costs an incredible US$500m per annum and state of emergencies
Repay US$52.5m and liberate tens of millions of US$ annually to improve education
Eliminate school fees
Create state owned money making assets
Solar powered streetlights nationwide
Electric school buses for safe and free travel
Schools selling electricity locally to earn revenue
Waste-to-energy plants with proper functioning solid waste management
This is also social intervention. There will be less idle hands and much more hope so one would expect a decrease in crime. And all this could be achieved without spending an extra tax dollar.
Today, the government has 3 options to implement state investment:
2. Use the aforementioned US$2.5b or
3. Access the US$3b reserves.
All 3 are good but I prefer 2 or 3. In regards to option 3, the government and the IMF should explain why it is a good idea to have US$3 billion sitting around when it could be working for the people. I doubt that it is doing nothing in the Bank of Jamaica. Someone is getting interest on the people's cash money.
In regards to option 2, in 2016 US$1.64b was borrowed from the IMF to quote, "support the country's ongoing reform program to tackle poverty, create jobs, and improve living standards." Let me repeat that: "to support the country's ongoing reform program to tackle poverty, create jobs, and improve living standards." So state investment in renewables would have been perfect. I would like to know how the people's US$1.64b was used.
The following year they were broke so they borrowed US$70m from the World Bandit to "spur growth and development"? Well, state investment in renewables would have been a perfect spur!
What happened to that money? How will the IMF and World Bank be repaid a total of US$1.71b; that is US$85.5 million annual repayments plus interest over 20 years? It is being repaid with further austerity measures. But to make matters worse the IMF said we have access to US$1.2 billion. The money is available for investment in renewables and education but Holness chooses to perpetuate poverty and boast about prosperity. It is prosperity for the few.
So this is how the people's money is managed. Waste, mismanagement and austerity are constituents of our fiscal discipline. It is the polar opposite to what the PM tweeted:
The measure of a good government is how they protect and actively empower the weakest and most dispossessed in the society. The measure of a good government frugality and careful management of the peoples' money and income to protect from inflation and unnecessary taxes.
Wow. Says it all really........
So let's look at an example of his "frugality and careful management of the peoples' cash".
The parliamentarians are fully aware of the viability of solar power so what is their record on investment? In 2014 the then minister of energy was present at the inauguration of the Grand Palladian hotel's US$3.4m solar investment which paid for itself over a year ago. Well, over a similar period, quote "Mrs. Williams (Science, Energy and Technology Minister) indicated that between 2013 and 2018, some US$2.2 million in savings was generated from the implementation of strategies under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme (EECP) at government entities."
Such testicular fortitude to tell the entire world that a sovereign state, baking in sunshine and broke to boot, saved a grand total of US$2.2m since 2013. Chump change. And this magnificent feat was achieved under the noses of the IMF and the UNDP which advocate for sustainable development. Since 2013 we should be well over US$600m better off but our parliamentarians saved $2.2m over 5 years. If we include waste-to-energy then we're around a US$1 billion. Personally, I think this is criminal negligence.
The reality is the parliamentarians prefer to enrich JPS shareholders with over US$150m of the people's cash, every year. That is what they have chosen and continue to do: to perpetuate poverty by deliberately underfunding education. They prefer to maintain a fee paying system and enrich foreign shareholders.
And now they are openly flogging the family silver with advertisements promoting "Energy Resilience and Investment Opportunities". This is what is possible when you keep the people ignorant.
This mob need to go. Simple. It is immoral to allow a handful of people to profit from natural energy sources just because they can raise the money to finance infrastructure that needs no management and little to no maintenance.
We're on a path to destruction......
It is 60 million Jamaican dollars! It really is embarrassing.
The objective of the Solar Energy Projects is to provide alternative energy/solar energy from photovoltaic systems to schools, in an effort to lessen the dependence on the Jamaica Public Service Co. Limited, and reduce current electricity bills between 40 and 70 per cent at schools benefiting from the project.
There you go, their objectives in black and white. The government has my proposals and they are aware of the Grand Palladian hotel. But this is part of their grand plan. It really is shameful. They are either dunce or evil. They plan to spend US$425k and spread out solar panels to 30 schools. They will not take one school completely off the grid because the viability cat would be out of the bag. How sad and pitiful.
However, this policy is a violation of the human right to free and quality education. Governments are obligated to fund education to the best of their ability. Leaving schools on the grid impoverishes them resulting in poor quality education and fees.
Meanwhile, over US$73m of taxpayers' money has been loaned to build call centres plus an additional US$40m of credit is lined up!
Why not create a facility to lend to schools for them to invest in solar power? No chance. Call centres and hotels are the way forward.
Let's close with the opening quote:
Fiscal discipline is now a part of the DNA of the government.
The gathering at the University of Missouri were told that corruption continues to be a corrosive force in Jamaica. I would like to know why he was chosen when he refuses to give information about how, as a civil servant he financed his mansion on the hill. Added to that, the country is synonymous with corruption, falling further in the Transparency International corruption index. Not that TI can be trusted! This invitation was a slap in the face to the vast majority of Jamaicans and taxpayers worldwide.
The minister was fired/resigned in March 2019 for alleged corruption. One accusation is that his ministry reportedly donated $160k to the construction of a stadium at Jamaica College, where he was a previous headmaster. However, the college did not receive the donation. JC stated "The JC Ashenheim Stadium was fully funded by a most generous donation from the Ashenheim family." A couple days later the Ministry of Education announced that the $160k had not been transferred to the school and remains with the Government of Jamaica. Another example of why education is underfunded - theft. It should be noted that in Jamaica, investing in sport for the few is more important than investing in solar panels to aid education for the many.
I have never met a person who believes that parliamentarians are not corrupt. Never. There are many good folk in Jamaica but unfortunately, they are too frightened to challenge the parliamentarians. However, that is a very poor excuse and they are now part of the problem. More so because we have no journalism. Bodies and organisations set up to investigate human right abuses, corruption and mismanagement of the people's money are shams.
Gordon House has always been a den of scumbaggery and now they want a new US$55m state of the art building to continue ripping off the people. I say enough is enough. We have proof of their mismanagement of the public purse so it is time for them to be exposed and expelled.
The scandals are too plentiful to document here so I won't bother.
When it comes to hypocrisy, the PM is a major player. Check his twitter account @AndrewHolnessJM. Here he is telling everyone about the importance of education, quote: "Education is like a vaccine, everybody must have it!" He means everybody must be able to read and write.
In 2017, the aforementioned minister of education said the following: "We are just at that point where we are able to provide quality education from early childhood to primary, so that every student will be able to go on to secondary and every student will be able to go up to grade 13, so you will leave with the minimum of an associate degree. That is the kind of education system that we are building." Wow! What BS! A call centre executive lamented that our school leavers are too dunce to work in call centres! Associate degree? Sorry, but "...the kind of education system that we are building" is now geared up to churn out workers for call centres.
One of the very few true statements made by the PM was his admittance to underfunding education: "We acknowledge that what the government gives to the education system... certainly to the traditional high schools... is not enough." Yes, you admit this but continue to divert public funds into JPS shareholders' pockets whilst telling us “Public resources must be used to improve the life chances equally for every single Jamaican, and give every single Jamaican the type of education that allows them to fulfil their goals.”
But then, whilst trying to shift blame to the education sector he inferred that education is properly funded: "Holness said there must be value for money for government expenditure in the sector, citing many schools were struggling. He said that high standards must be maintained, instead of what was an acceptance of compromise." "...an acceptance of compromise"? The only "acceptance of compromise" is by the Jamaican people towards parliamentarians. ".....high standards must be maintained.."? High standards?!? That statement is further proof of delusion. Only 41 schools had 50% or more of their students attain 5 or more CSEC subjects including English and/or Mathematics. And only 70 schools above 20%. The facts are the vast majority of schools function as day care and Holness is getting just reward on poor investment.
His answer to the crisis is to build 6 STEM schools. So, instead of laying a foundation by investing in early education he wants to build on quicksand. So children are going to magically improve to attend these institutions and we are going to recruit from the worldwide shortage of STEM teachers. But none of this is challenged. Lucrative building contracts will be awarded with the endgame of more money wasted and misappropriated. The president of the Jamaica's Teachers Association has my proposals but he appears to have his own agenda. Improving education certainly is not on his to do list.
Just look at that Tweet. When you are unaccountable you can say and tweet anything you want. The government tramples on the human rights of the children. If one reads the Abidjan Principles and the right to education it is quickly apparent that the government is violating the human rights of it's citizens.
Overarching Principle 2. States must provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality to everyone within their jurisdiction as effectively and expeditiously as possible, to the maximum of their available resources.
Education is poor quality and high schools must charge fees.
Principle 8. States must regularly monitor compliance of public and private institutions with the right to education and ensure all public policies and practices related to this right comply with human rights principles.
68% of teachers in early education institutions are unqualified.
Principle 10. States should guarantee the effective implementation of these Guiding Principles by all appropriate means, including where necessary by adopting and enforcing the required legal and budgetary reforms.
Keeping schools on the grid underfunds education and the government refuses to implement prudent budgetary reforms.
As mentioned before, Holness admitted that high school education cannot continue without fees - "What Government gives high schools is not enough" - but his answer is charity and to pass the buck: "But schools by their own resources and effort need to do more, and we encourage that." Rural schools do not have rich benefactors and collecting fees from the poor is problematic - why pay for crap service - so they are massively underfunded and destined to fail.
The OCA is the Jamaican body to protect the rights of children. Unfortunately, it is under the remit of the government, quote: The OCA's mission and vision statements reflect the mandate that has been entrusted by the Parliament to the Office. As a team, we are committed to enhancing the quality of services provided for, and treatment meted out to children in Jamaica. For this reason, our vision and mission statements encapsulate the desire that these objectives must coincide with reality in the near future.
We are committed to promote and protect the rights and best interests of children through vigilance, strategic partnerships and the provision of timely, efficient and quality service to all our clients.
Children in Jamaica enjoy their rights to survival, development, protection and participation as well as consideration of their best interest at all times.
The Children's Advocate is mandated to PROTECT and ENFORCE the RIGHTS of CHILDREN and PROMOTE their BEST INTERESTS at all times.
Words. All words and words are cheap. The reality is somewhat different. Our children have no rights to better education. I wrote to the advocate in October 2019 and telephoned the office on numerous occasions but the she refuses to take or return my calls.
So who do I take my findings to? I have written to scores of people who lament about the state of the country but with no joy. Yellow and/or part of the system.
The JLPNP have built a system of governance that is dependent on charity, a system where parliamentarians and their lackeys are dons. They don't supply solutions to remove dependency but encourage it. And now they demand more pay to maintain this master slave relationship. This interview with Pearnel Charles Sr is a must read, his view on being a good parliamentarian is based on how much money they have in their pockets:
"To be a good parliamentarian requires that you have to take certain interests in the constituency when it comes to the people. For example, education, health of the family, the welfare of the child, and the environment in which people live," the 83-year-old veteran stated. "There is no way $300,000 [US$2,150 pm] can compensate anybody who truly going to want to represent a constituency. If you have to assist with medical bills and they come to your office every day; in educating the child, providing books, uniform, transport and food; plus you have to assist those who are not working to take care of the children going and not going to school, that cannot do."
Pay should reflect performance. As proven, they waste at least US$150m every year paying JPS. 600,000 barrels of crude oil valuing US$43m has disappeared. Corruption and mismanagement of the public purse is rife. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. They should be fired, investigated and some immediately taken into police custody. Instead, they are taking the piss by demanding more of taxpayers' money and wasting US$55m on a new parliament building. Montego Bay is our second city and this video was taken during a shower in the upgraded market. In 2020 we have schools with pit latrines and high schools without running water. And they demand more money? The welfare of the people does not matter.
And the outrage from the media, social commentators and human right activists in regards to their demands?
Towards the end of 2019 the dollar depreciated from $125 to $142 and the government and the bank of Jamaica told the people to look at inflation figures and the decline should be ignored. That advice was ignored because every week the price of something goes up. The cheek. For a couple of weeks the dollar started to regain some 'value' as celebrated in that tweet. Let's celebrate a 10% depreciation! However, we have seen it before: a rapid slide, a bit of a recovery and then a slower decline back to record lows. Well it is back to $142. What is that in real terms? The minimum wage is $170 per hour. The equivalent of the school meal that I ate as a child costs $450, so over 2.5 hours work.
One reason that the parliamentarians can target inflation figures is because of taxis. Shared taxis are our primary means of transport "hop on and off" and they are not loved by many people. I feel for them. Their plight of these fall guys is very well explained by the economist Mark Ricketts. The upshot is that they are villains for requesting a fare increase - the first in over 7 years in Montego Bay - and suffer for parliamentarian failures. 5 seater Toyotas are 7 seaters. Regardless of how traditionally built the ladies are, 4 are getting on the back seat. Yes, a false economy and more so because good roads are few and far between.
We would have a lower fuel bill and a stronger currency if the people's money was managed properly. And the parliamentarians want a pay rise? Yeah, right. And that tweet? Nero and his fiddle.
The four horsemen of apocalyptic economic misery - the UN, IMF, World Bank and IDB - cannot be ignorant about the economic viability of renewables. No chance. They are fully aware of the astronomical cost of our electricity, the depth of corruption and the misappropriation of public funds. However, to take the piss even more, the IMF praised the government for fiscally sound policies! So much so that in December 2018 the PM co-chaired a G20 meeting on climate financing: "We have a duty to be fiscally responsible, energy smart, and embracive of technology and innovation in this regard." Jesus wept. The balls of some people.
Very little truth or anything of substance emanates from the mouth of the PM. During the 2016 general election campaign he promised a job description/job letters for cabinet ministers which would assist in ensuring they were held accountable. In 2017, he said the job descriptions were still being developed but, in the interim, he had been able to find other ways to hold ministers accountable. Yeah, right..... and what a stellar job he is doing. We're not holding our breath. And the media follow up? Deathly quiet.
He claims that the country has visionaries and implores the people to take action and "Do sumn! Do sumn!" Please watch the video and marvel! Better still, take him at his word and do something! Demand change!
Jamaica, as a small island developing nation (SID) should be a world leader in renewables and embarrassing others into action. Here is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith adding her two pennies worth: For us in the Caribbean, climate change is not a philosophical concept, or an academic debate, it is an existential issue. It is our reality! It requires urgent and effective action.
And then, as usual portraying us as a charity case and begging: How do small states like ours, many already facing adverse debt dynamics, mobilize the financing required to build climate resilient frameworks?
I can tell you how! Prudence!
Holness likes to portray himself as a humanitarian (LOL) and environmentalist but his record speaks differently. He has told the world that he banned single use plastic bags. That is a monumental porky pie, lie. Black carrier bags of a certain size have been banned. Transparent single use bags are now in greater demand.
In 2018 Holness announced he targeted more than 50% of our energy from renewables, "We are working even harder to a more ambitious target to reach 50% of our electricity generation being from renewables by 2030."
And we cannot leave out this gem:
"We have a duty to be fiscally responsible, energy smart, and embracive of technology and innovation in this regard."
We have been committed to imported LNG.
"We need to now start thinking of game-changing innovative and large projects. Let's look at projects that could solve our water problem, our energy problem and our transportation problems at the same time."
"It is ultimately sustainable growth which will empower us to ensure prosperity for our people, while taking care of our oceans and seas and land environment."
"It is a well-known fact that high energy cost is a barrier to increased growth and competitiveness in many sectors including agriculture."
He has my proposals. What would be a larger and bigger game changer that a drive to remove all infrastructure off the grid and building waste-to-energy facilities? Where logistically possible schools would have solar powered electric vehicle charging stations and every year electric buses would be added to the school and public transport system. Likewise electric vehicles for transportation of agricultural products to markets etc.
Why not build solar powered buildings for manufacturing so creating jobs and reducing imports of cheap, poor quality Chinese goods? We have around 400,000 school boys wearing imported khaki uniforms. Some of our tourist merchandise is made in China. No chance, call centres and all inclusive hotels are the way forward.
Here is our reality: a fossil fuel is the major component of our 50% renewables target! If we endorse fossil fuels why shouldn't the rest of the world? LNG was sold to the people with the promise of cheaper electricity but that promise was quickly reneged. So the LNG company New Fortress Energy and a chosen few will get rich, the people will not benefit economically, the country remains dependent and the planet will suffer. To make matters worse the resident UNDP, which has my proposals, lauds the Government on its efforts to address climate change and sustainability. You could not make it up.
This man is responsible for the country's finance and should be the example of prudence, not profligacy.
He blamed it on roaming charges so obviously does not know how to manage his phone.
Transparency? We haven't seen a breakdown of the bills and we do not know when he was out of the country. We never will.
This has to be read to be believed.
The country has 33 working ambulances for a population of almost 3 million. That mob leg it to Florida as soon as they get a cough so they don't need an ambulance. You don't care about the Jamaican people but what about the tourists and relatives from the diaspora? What if they need medical attention? No duty of care. I'll say no more.
He thinks that liquefied natural gas is a source of green energy.
I think that the word 'natural' has out foxed him.
Unfortunately for us, he is spreading this falsehood.
But he is unwittingly letting the rest of the world know that our education system is in need of desperate help.
Just look at the logo! A plug with electricity derived from solar, wind and water. "Making electricity cheaper" from green sources will be "fuelling growth".
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The advertisement is solely about cheaper liquefied natural gas. Our politicians think LNG is a renewable energy source hence the green! I'm not lying, check the story in the section below. God help us.....
If they are insinuating that our current lower electricity bills are due to our first LNG power station being online, it is a falsehood. Yes, LNG is a cheaper fuel than oil and therefore makes cheaper electricity. However, the online plant produces around 15% of our energy needs so it's impact on our bills is negligible.
We have lower prices because of the collapse in oil prices.
Those in power know that cheaper electricity can be made from cheaper fuel. The question must be asked why free solar radiation and our organic waste was not considered as fuel.
Time for a change.... of all 84 politicians
These people couldn't organise an orgy in a brothel. If they had any interest in "fuelling growth" they would target the production of the cheapest electricity possible. That is obvious. Our currency weakens at least 5% per annum and the price of LNG is at a low so our electricity will always be expensive. Solar radiation will always be free and we will always produce waste.
You now know what is common knowledge in Jamaica: politicians do not care one iota about the people. When it comes to governance they are clueless, inept and out of their depth (that will be a common theme). You can understand why 85% of us think they are corrupt.
Profligacy at work:
Who did the research and design, and who has been held accountable? LOL! A conference centre in Jamaica! The land of reggae, sun, sand, sea, sex and weed. What next, an outdoor ice skating rink? It would be funny if it wasn't tragic. OPM man, OPM. Other people's money.
$1.6 million does not get you a lot here and you can guess why. So the likelihood is that at least $3 million will be spent/wasted.
What is "fit for purpose"? No details have been provided.
It sounds like it will still be a conference centre. The people are losing money from it's current use and history dictates that will continue.
30 Million US for that?!? Tell you what, 30 million bucks does not build much in Jamaica. It is a stadium in the middle of nowhere serviced by a poor road. Celine Dion performed at the elephant a few years ago and there was the mother of all traffic jams. No, I did not go! It was all over the news. She went on stage well over a hour late. She had no idea how popular she was and was genuinely very emotional in her post concert interview.
Many say that the relationship between the present government and the hotelier Stewart is too close. When previously in power at the behest of Stewart millions was spent on a small airport. We already have two international airports both of which are under used. No research was done so they discovered it still could only accommodate small aeroplanes. Hence they wanted to throw more money at it but then lost power. This white elephant costs tax payers thousands of dollars to receive around 2000 passengers per year. Yes, 2000 passengers per year.
Here is what Stewart said in 2015: "From our point of view Boscobel [airport] costs the Government of Jamaica money every year," Stewart stated, adding that the runway is 2000 feet short of accommodating larger aircraft. Also "... the expansion of the current 4,780-foot-long runway would attract larger aircraft from airlines such as American Airlines, Air Canada, USAIR, Jet Blue and Delta..."
We need to see the projections from all the hoteliers - number of rooms, jobs etc. - so that the tax revenue can be calculated. Without numbers how can you make such a request? From the Airports Council International (ACI) website: “The latest estimates suggest that as many as 69% of airports worldwide operate at a net loss. Most of these airports have fewer than one million passengers per annum." Also " Given that airports are asset-intensive businesses, they require large investments just to accommodate a single aircraft landing."
Will the airlines add additional flights or simply change routes at the expense of the other two airports? If we don't get the arrivals will Stewart pay the deficit?
Here is some of the information supplied to the Jamaican people:
'...at least three hoteliers will benefit'. No doubt some hoteliers will benefit but at what cost to the rest of the country? No numbers or analysis has been provided.
The biggest aircraft in the American Eagle fleet carries 106 passengers. Stewart wanted to attract larger aircrafts from American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada, USAIR and Jet Blue.
His comment about climate change, a regional hub and large planes is extremely puzzling. Or probably I'm too dunce to understand it. The targeted 106 seater planes are not classified as large. By definition a large plane has over 300 seats. But since he is targeting 100 seaters this statement is irrelevant in regards to this airport. Why can't the other two airports be the hub? And which islands are in this hub? This sounds like an excuse to justify the expansion but it is nonsensical.
Jamaica is a tiny island. Why don't they look at improving the roads which would be beneficial to the whole island? The opposition should find a way to stop this but they don't care. They'll have ammunition for the next election - we told you so. The sad thing is, when the money has been spent the hoteliers will tell him that the airport isn't big enough! They won't have the projected amount of tourists to justify further investment.
The Transport Minister further pointed out that experience from other aerotropolis developments suggests that Vernamfield, properly invested, will generate US$121 into the gross domestic product (GDP) for every $1 invested between 2017 and 2018. In addition, he informed that the projected tax increment that will be generated by the wide range of economic activities will see an average tax take of 11 per cent, resulting in revenues of US$6.5 billion.
US$6.5 billion! Who wouldn't back an investment with those revenues? No details were provided for the numbers quoted. Even if it is a misprint - JA$ - is this viable? I'm thinking another elephant. Once bitten, twice shy......
Finance minister Audley Shaw says there has been at least three expressions of interest from investors out of China and Europe so far. According to Shaw, the international investors have indicated a willingness to pump between US$2 billion and US$3 billion into the mega development that is expected to transform the southern Clarendon belt.
Strong interest! Really? Excellent. Looking forward to hearing more.....
The minister said, while he understands the hesitancy of local investors, based on apparent intimidation from the huge scope and complexity of the Vernamfield development — which is projected to be one of the biggest in Jamaica's history — it's critical that Jamaica secures a significant piece of the pie.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.....
Meanwhile, the prime minister said the education sector must now begin to prepare itself to train and have 300,000 Jamaicans working in the BPO industry.
“You might all be shell-shocked by this figure, but I want you all to think big. We support the education of our people 100 per cent. We are committed to providing budgetary support to education, as we recognise that there can be no prosperity without an educated, trained and trainable workforce. We must have all citizens attached and productive,” Holness said.
Educating and training call centre workers in our schools? What a bright future! I hope that his children are clever enough to get one of these high paying highly sought positions.
Creating jobs is good but they must pay a living wage. The minimum wage is $155 per hour and salaryexplorer.com reports the monthly wage of a Customer Service Representative can start as low as $28,000. That will not get much in Montego Bay:
The minimum fare is $100.
The average price of one variety of mango is $200.
Red Stripe beer in a local bar $250+ (US$5+ in tourist bars).
A litre of cooking oil is $350+.
The school lunch that I ate as a child costs $360. There are reports of rural students spending $500 daily to commute to school. A day's pay is not enough to buy a 3D cinema ticket. Working over a day to buy a ticket to see Wonder Woman.......
Also stay malady free! An MIR scan costs $24,000 and if you need medicine you better hope that paracetamol works. People die because they cannot afford medical treatment.
Politicians cannot see past call centres. They see tax revenue. I have not heard one of them mention the wages or the working conditions. The employees are irrelevant. I see call centres for what they are: poor Jamaicans harassing Americans many of whom have fallen on hard times and are in debt. We're aiding loan sharks - companies that buy debt as an investment and pay a pittance to collect it. To make matters worse, some trained workers have turned to the much more lucrative crime of scamming.
If we invest to create good IT literate staff we could aim to get IT based outsourced contracts, not debt collection. The beauty of IT is that you do not need a degree or the best education. You need aptitude. You can start with a laptop, internet access and good online courses. The latter is out there in abundance. I can speak from experience, I retrained in IT and I am not a 'techie'.
Renewables could fund an IT initiative.
We need to know why LNG is good and a few cute pandas are bad for the country.
I read this on the PCJ website, quote: Solar is a natural fit for Jamaica’s climate and has tremendous potential for both energy diversification and business investment. Research has shown that Jamaica receives an estimated average of 177 MJ/m2 per year of direct solar radiation. That is enough to supply approximately 5 times our annual energy requirement.
I also read that Jamaica has been pursuing "Renewable Energy Opportunities" since the 70s oil crisis. So in 2030 it will be over 50 years that the Jamaican leaders have been pursuing Renewable Energy Opportunities. And in that year they will have delivered 30%. Now that is success! Absolutely magnificent! Bravo!
Quote: (Ex)President and Chief Executive Officer of JPS, Kelly Tomblin, asserted that “Jamaica is just getting started”, as work continues to achieve fuel diversification for the country’s energy sector. “Around the globe, people are taking notice (of) what’s going on in energy in Jamaica and they know we are doing power differently,” she said.
You are damn right we are doing things differently! Why don't we do things like Iceland? It is an island of volcanoes so they utilise geothermal energy. We live in an abundance of sunshine so around 3% of our energy consumption is powered by the sun? Explain that? It's embarrassing. We look like clueless backward fools.
Tourism is our biggest industry and needs investment in the environment to preserve and grow visitor numbers. Investing in waste-to-energy is an investment in the wellbeing of the people, the environment and tourism.
And Ms Tomblin is right, people are bloody taking notice. They are in pity with the masses and wondering about our leaders. The PM was celebrating with the investors but in the report the words people, population, savings or benefit were all absent. It was peppered with investor(s) and investment though. Yes, in Jamaica you can invest and make money at the expense of the people - BPO and tourism - and pay minimum wage. Look at the photos on Montego Bay page.
If we had cheaper energy Jamaica would be better off. More people would be working. Less poverty. Crime would be less. Better schools. But we have the opposite. Why is our target only 30% energy from renewables? I think an explanation is needed. The third pillar in their document is transparency. We need an answer.
We're in trouble. I had to include this story so that you can see the origins of the government's targeted 5% growth and the improvement of the country. Look at the list above. If you exclude the logistics hub what are you left with? The logistics hub requires billions of USD so it is outside the control of the government. So, with the left overs how many of the working class would move to middle class? How many will leave poverty behind?
When you see 'medical tourism' as a revenue stream for growth in a country like Jamaica you know the people are in trouble. You know that those at the helm are clutching at straws. Can you honestly see any growth?
The logistics hub initiative: I became aware of this when I read the story. I assumed it was to do with the Chinese having plans for Goat Island. According to the politicians, "The initiative will provide a myriad of opportunities for global and domestic commercial and industry interests." Of the 'several cornerstone projects, which represent investment opportunities...' are the aerotropolis and Jamaica Railway (http://www.jamaicatradeandinvest.org/sites/default/files/investment_projects/Global_Logistics_Hub_Jamaica_Government_Project.pdf ). So we're talking about a billions of USD in foreign investment. Not millions but billions. Sorry, but I have to look at our history. I hope I am wrong but all I can see is a nice fat juicy carrot - jobs and therefore hope.
Carrots attract poor people, they need work. They move to an area hoping that the project will materialise. They have to live somewhere so they 'capture' land - knock together a home on or near the proposed site hoping to profit when the government moves them. Either monetarily or by relocation to a proper house. Next thing you know you have a community with no infrastructure. They need water and electricity and they get them. These are not breeding grounds for hope. Communities materialised in Boscobel, the site of the Ian Fleming Airport and also along sections of Highway 2000. Anyway.....
The video on the ministry of industry website announces that Jamaica will be the fourth global logistics node. The fourth! So there are 3 nodes and we'll be the fourth. That claim I found somewhat unbelievable. I'd expect at least one on each continent.
Well good luck Googling the phrase 'global logistics node'. From the CBRE website: "These hubs are connected via hub-and-spoke systems centered around 30 global logistics hubs—including the likes of Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London and Paris—that form the backbone of today’s global supply chain." The writer later substituted 'global logistics hub' with 'global nodes'. Further reading: "However, as emerging markets grow and new centers of production materialize, 20 emerging markets are on the verge of becoming global logistics hubs over the next decade, including South Florida, Bajio, Busan, Suzhou, Berlin and Amsterdam."
So there appears to be 30 nodes, not 3. 20 more are in the pipeline and South Florida, which is on our backdoor step is one of them.
Medical tourism? Really? In a country with 33 working ambulances? What about your charges? How many hospitals were recently downgraded to clinics?
Ecotourism with such low investments in renewables? The only growth I can see is in the stakeholders bank accounts.
Energy diversification in Jamaica benefits only the few. The price of electricity is governed by three major factors: the cost of fuel, the exchange rate and theft. All three are major problems for the supplier and that is reflected in the astronomical cost of electricity. It will never be affordable for most because the government's energy plans are heavily dependent on buying fossil fuels. I don't see how expensive energy can entice investment.
The truth of the matter is Jamaica is a tiny island which receives enough sunshine to power it's needs 5 fold. Yet we're building a LNG powered energy station as China completes it's panda solar farm. A rich nation doesn't want to pay for fuel but poor Jamaica does? That is illogical. In this day and age 70% diversification to LNG is a disgrace.
BPO - hahaha! Don't get me started!
International financial services - I have no idea. Is that scamming?
I think that Agro-parks are a good idea but we have serious issues to address before they can be successful. Our biggest problem is praedial larceny. I have witnessed Iceman the pineapple seller sleeping whilst vending in the market. He has to guard his field at night. This is commonplace. I have met many people who have lost crops and animals. My dad lost his field of yams. I had a buddy who inherited a nice piece of land. Someone suggested that she should farm it. She thought about it but didn't. She reasoned that after paying for seeds, labour and security she was not guaranteed to reap the crop. We have monumental problems if farmers think like her and many do.
If devils are stealing entire crops then there has to be a marketplace. If they are stealing cows they can't eat the entire animal, there must be a marketplace. These devils can sell at half the market rate because after paying transportation costs for their nefarious activity every cent is profit. But how do you convince a mother who earns minimum wage not to buy as cheap as possible? By putting more money in her pocket? Then there is the poor victim - no money to send their children to school. And the consequence of that in the future?
We import too much but I assume that is partly due of globalisation. You would think that the weakness of our currency would make the prices out of reach. I'm not an economist so I assume our economic closeness to the US has significant impact. How do you create an environment where we stop importing cheaper food? I go to the market every week and it is awash with American produce. Many vendors go to the wharf and buy their onions, red peas (kidney beans), peppers, potatoes and other produce. In the US a supermarket was selling 8 plantains for 98 cents. On the streets of Montego Bay the standard price for a nice ripe plantain is $100. Plantains will soon be heading to our shores. Followed by ........
Returns on farming can be poor - coffee growers were on the news demanding better prices. I thought that they were doing okay based on the price of coffee on the supermarket shelves, US$6 for a 100 gram jar of instant. Their spokesman said some were prepared to leave the coffee to rot because they were making losses.
Prices in the market can fluctuate tremendously. They can double in a week and that is not an exaggeration. Sometimes the price hikes are understandable - scarcity due to pests, flooding or drought. After the recent flooding tomatoes moved from $50 to over $200 per pound. Last month I was buying pineapple at $50 and now it is $100 and this due to a glut in the market. And boy didn't Iceman lament when it was $50.
I think that we need to look at our farming from the ground level. Could cooperatives work? Some work the fields and some act as security? Coordination to keep prices stable? We need to find a way of sellers proving that their sources are legitimate. Much easier said than done. Would a more educated and fairer Jamaica have these issues in such magnitude?
Prayer isn't working and neither are government policies. We are a farming nation and a man must be able to reap what he sows. He could when I was a child but not now.
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