Cons, Lies and Videotape

The not so green logo..... LNG promotional video

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.....


Falsehood

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.

Shaw - still in office

Digicel's favourite customer. Over US$65,000.....

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.

Yet he allowed an ambulance, a gift, to rot for a year because he wanted US$39k tax.

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.

LNG is a fossil fuel.

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.

Montego Bay Conference Fiasco

Yes, we have a conference centre! What folly! Accountability?

Profligacy at work: 

  • Local stakeholders had predicted that the convention centre had the capacity to generate approximately US$10 million in its first year, with the prospect of a 10 per cent increase in earning each succeeding year.
  • A huge chunk of the monthly expenditure goes into the high energy cost, which is to be blamed on the design of the facility. 
  • For the past two years [2011-2013], the centre has spent more than US$50,000 on the rental of utensils to include cutlery.

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. 

Let's throw US$1.6 million at it... to make it a better conference centre?

$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.

Another white elephant sighted

Another US$30 million down the drain. Accountability?

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.

And another one!

Our third airport - Money Pit International Airport

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?

Expansion! Let's throw at least US$15 million at it......

Here is some of the information supplied to the Jamaican people: 

  • '.. at least three hoteliers will benefit'. 
  • We're targeting airlines such as American Eagle, quote "fly out of an airport that could take them to the East, West Coast of the United States, and Central and South America”. 
  • Also, “The Caribbean is going to need a regional hub, because under climate change the smaller islands will never be able to accommodate large planes”.

'...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. 

Aerotropolis

Wow! I had to Google the term "Aerotropolis".

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......

Yes Minister Shaw!

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.....

Local investors

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.....


BPO - Jamaican Call Centres

PM enthuses 'think big!' Sorry, I think minimum wage jobs.

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.

And what is the future of the BPO industry? One report states a 99% chance of it being obsolete inside 20 years.

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.

Jamaica: Investors and the IMF first, the people last...

This tells us all we need to know about those at the top.

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.

No ambulance but still pursuing cash from the diaspora...

Where they see growth: logistics hub initiatives; agro-parks; BPO; tourism diversification - ecotourism, health, wellness and medical tourism; the creative industries; energy diversification; and international financial services.

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.