Jamaica after Trafigura ? Money matters

Market forces (Part I)

After a week (or is it two ?) of exercising ourselves over Dutch oil trader, Trafigura Beheer, paying J$31 million for the PNP party conference, big money is still on the agenda as our Minister of Finance Dr. Omar Davies announced that the Government of Jamaica will give a Serbian football coach, Velibor Milutinovic (henceforth to be known as “Bora”) US$500,000 (or J$32,500,000) per year for four years towards his US$1,000,000 annual salary). Bora’s task ? Deliver the Reggae Boys to a first round World Cup match in South Africa in 2010.

 

15 03 2005 Milutinovic Mag 1 Bora Milutinovic

Naturally, there will be no chorus of shocked persons questioning big money Government expenditure on such a popular national cause. Who can forget the glory days of Rene Simoes ? When we, wagonists all, went around preaching to each other about the need for discipline because Rene insisted that no football team could succeed without it ?

And when some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force complained recently about the salaries being paid to our British cops, they did not receive the support of outraged columnists and angry pundits. Naturally not. Since the Scotland Yardies (Mr-tall-and-handsome Mark Shields et al) have been here the police force has delivered a substantial cut in the murder rate – something that many Jamaicans believed could never happen. So they are well worth the money. Same way Rene Simoes was worth his money. Same way we hope Bora will worth the money.

1406Rene Simoes2 Ae180 Rene Simoes Jbbameetinga20050622Rb DCP Mark Shields

Trafigura hoped that (and here, I speculate) that the PNP, as the party in power, would deliver an annual contract for lifting Nigerian oil and selling it on to third parties. They were prepared to pay good money to ensure that the contract was renewed.

Not quite as much money as we Jamaicans are prepared to pay for the Reggae Boys to represent us at the World Cup 2010, and not quite as much as we are paying our 4 or 5 Yardies to get crime under control. But still, good money.

All week I have been listening to the talk shows and scanning the papers to hear how political parties will be funded in the future (after a new campaign finance law has been passed) when every political donation will be scrutinized for origin and cleanliness.

Although we have ample evidence of the ingenuity of politicians and donors (check out the U.K.’s cash-for honours scandal) we seem convinced that legislation will change politics-as-we-know-it.

It appears that, in the future, Big Company NumberOne will not care one bit if the Party-in-Power (PIP) knows that it has given a huge donation to the Party-out-of-Power (POOP). Cash-rich-but-with-no-visible-source-of-income Mister BigMan will not care a hoot if the police and POOP know that he gives regular donations to the PIP M.P..

And why will they no longer care who knows their business and who they support? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because, in the future, all members of PIP and POOP will stop thinking that money (donations) matters. POOP candidates and M.P.’s will not worry if they can’t afford to hold meetings and curry goat feeds in every part of the constituency. PIP M.P’s and candidates will stop caring whether they have money to help with funerals, school fees and treats for the elderly.

And why will the PIP and POOP politicians stop caring about money ? Because, in the wake of the Trafigura scandal, Jamaican voters have realized that money in politics is corrupting our democracy…. And so we have resolved that we will no longer expect politicians to have money:-

Henceforth, Jamaican taxpayers will allocate sufficient government funds so that both parties can conduct nice, cheap campaigns (for example:- debates between candidates in the parish capital, a few tasteful infomercial style TV ads, a lot of meet-the-people walkabouts).

Henceforth, Jamaican voters will no longer line up at constituency offices to “beg a money” from the M.P..

Henceforth, PIP and POOP M.P.’s and constituency caretakers will be able to move around the constituencies shaking hands and kissing babies without being harassed by crude demands for “donations” to various community causes.

I bet they’re looking forward to it already. So am I.


“Struck Dumb: The History and Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform” (Allison Hayward)

Market forces (Part II)

The Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker. He runs a profit making enterprise, the Grameen Bank, which makes micro-loans to very poor people so they can start their own businesses.

The Nobel Committee believes that reducing poverty by empowering poor people is one of the most powerful means of creating lasting peace.

Dr. Yunus’s Grameen Bank makes micro-loans mainly to women. Not surprising, since in Bangladesh, as in Jamaica, women and children make up the majority of the very poorest people. Grameen Bank loans are “guaranteed” by groups of 5 women from the same community as the borrower. No other collateral required.

Micro-credit has long been a staple of the political and economic landscape in Jamaica. However our micro-credit efforts differ from Dr. Yunus’s work. Successive governments here have used micro-credit agencies as (1) slush funds to give money to unemployed young men in the inner city 2) employers for party supporters.

Like women in Bangladesh, Jamaican women have a superior record of repaying loans. Like women in Bangladesh, Jamaican women have a history of cooperative saving to raise money for major expenses. We call it “throwing pardner”.

How about poor Jamaican women getting a chance, like Bangladeshi women, to borrow small amounts of money to start their own businesses ?

How about one of our bankers putting their money where their mouth is ? Michael Lee-Chin of National Commercial Bank ? Over to you……


“Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty” (Muhammad Yunus, Alan Jolis)

Short stories

From Britain

Boris Johnson (U.K. Tory M.P.) has written an article explaining to Daily Telegraph readers why Iran wants a nuclear bomb. To stop the U.S. of A. from treating it like it is treating Iraq ! Not exactly shocking news if you are from any developing country, but I’m sure it will come as a surprise to many Brits who still believe that they (and the Americans) are over in Iraq introducing democracy…..

Bix Sl6805 Boris Johnson, M.P.

From America

The New York Times has an article about how married people are now a minority in the U.S. No surprise to those of us who have been following the Jamaicanization of the world.

Those of us “yearning to breathe free” can forget about migrating to the United States. The new Anti-Terrorism Bill just passed by Congress makes U.S. citizens just as liable for interrogation and torture by their own Government as the citizens of other great democracies (you know, like Russia, China, Iran…..).

From Grenada

Morgan Freeman has a new book out about Caribbean cooking. Sales will benefit the Grenada Relief Fund set up after the island was mashed up by Hurricane Ivan.


“Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause” (Wendy Wilkinson, Donna Lee)

Many Caribbean men have joined the British and American armies and given distinguished service in Iraq and Afghanistan. None braver and none more honoured than Grenadian Johnson Beharry. He is still alive somehow but very damaged. If you have some money to spare, you might want to support him by buying his book.


“Barefoot Soldier” (Johnson Beharry, Nick Cook)

From Trinidad

Carifesta IX is long since over and, apparently, was another great big yawn. So imagine our excitement when we read this:-

The Bahamas are hopeful that Carifesta X will deposit an estimated US$100 million in revenue into their national coffers, when the event takes place in that country in two years’ time.

Winston Saunders, chairman of the National Cultural Development Commission in the Bahamas, revealed his country’s income projections in an interview with the Guardian during Sunday night’s closing of Carifesta IX at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.

His statements came on the heels of a declaration by Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington, who described Carifesta as “a drain on the purse of regional governments.

“We will see a new look Carifesta in 2008. There’s a new model—a new plan.

“An element of economic benefit is the new element to Carifesta. Carifesta should fill, rather than drain the public purse.

“There are tourism benefits for this event. The Bahamas is the ideal place for Carifesta’s transformation.”

 

If the Bahamas can make US$100 million from Carifesta X, then clearly Carifesta should never be held anywhere else.

From Yahso

 

I was more than pleased when Colonel Trevor McMillan became a JLP Senator. But I forgot one thing. When you become a Senator, you become a politician. You have to be able to make hay even if the sun is NOT shining. Here, from the Gleaner, is Colonel McMillan trying to sound like a politician:-
Senator MacMillan said the reduction in crime, while good, was still “no consolation” as it was still too high.

Oh dear. Speaking the truth ! Not exaggerating ! Not abusing anyone ! Clearly, Karl Samuda will have to take him in hand…..

More from Yahso

And are you still wondering what, if anything, will happen next about Trafigura, the J$31 million, Minister Paulwell’s involvement, the whole rotting fish head ? Well, Danny Buchanan (Portia supporter from her first run in 1992) got all Colin’s work AND the Prime Minister will finally speak to the matter this Tuesday, October 17, 2006 in the House of Parliament…….. Just a tip:- Don’t hold your breath


“Real Pirates of the Caribbean” (Highland Ent.)

 

[posted with ecto]

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4 thoughts on “Jamaica after Trafigura ? Money matters

  1. Interesting commentary. Since you have made provisions for feedback, her comes some.

    With proper campaign finance reform, PIP and POP will still care about money to campaign. They just won’t have as much. The politics you practise when you can “only” afford to park a car in the town square with loudspeakers on top and talk to people is vastly different from the kind you practise when you can pull up a bus on the corner and hand out T-Shirts and lunch coupons to everyone heading 100 miles to the conference.

    To make it work you have the rules enforced by the courts. I.e. If you do not declare contributions, you are not allowed to run and can even be sent to prison in some circumstances.

    The only major problems with public disclosure are

    1. Victimisation. If you donate to POP then PIP can and will take steps to ruin your business. Including but not limited to extra audits, delays in customs and even rule changes which break every business like yours when they are really pissed.

    2. Dishonesty. Even with public disclosure, CCOC would never have been declared a campaign account and funds going through it would just vanish.

  2. Interesting commentary. Since you have made provisions for feedback, her comes some.

    With proper campaign finance reform, PIP and POP will still care about money to campaign. They just won’t have as much. The politics you practise when you can “only” afford to park a car in the town square with loudspeakers on top and talk to people is vastly different from the kind you practise when you can pull up a bus on the corner and hand out T-Shirts and lunch coupons to everyone heading 100 miles to the conference.

    To make it work you have the rules enforced by the courts. I.e. If you do not declare contributions, you are not allowed to run and can even be sent to prison in some circumstances.

    The only major problems with public disclosure are

    1. Victimisation. If you donate to POP then PIP can and will take steps to ruin your business. Including but not limited to extra audits, delays in customs and even rule changes which break every business like yours when they are really pissed.

    2. Dishonesty. Even with public disclosure, CCOC would never have been declared a campaign account and funds going through it would just vanish.

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