Monthly Archives: October 2007

Ongoing arguments: tourism, Air Jamaica, Bob Woolmer, price of rice…..

Tourism

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Iberostar Rose Hall

John Lynch (Executive Vice President Marketing, Sandals Group) is the new Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board. The Government couldn’t have chosen a better person, says the head of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Wayne Cummings (General Manager of Sandals Negril). The Opposition says there is clear conflict of interest between working for a major player in the industry and chairing the tourist board.

The only people with sufficient clout to object (the Issa family, who own Super Clubs, Couples and Swept Away) are silent (so far). Perhaps for good reason – the only similar conflict of interest in this particular post occurred when John Issa, Chairman of Super Clubs, chaired the Tourist Board under the last JLP administration in the 1980’s.

Butch Stewart, Chairman of the Sandals Group, and major financial backer of the current JLP government, is so irritated at the Opposition’s suggestion that his employees should not now control all aspects of the local industry (he’s paid good money for this, after all) that he’s accusing the former PNP administration of having sold their soul to foreign investors. The foreign investors now in possession of the PNP’s soul are doubtless the Riu Group, the Fiesta Group, the Grupo Pinero, Iberostar et al. Hope the PNP’s soul is worth something, because it seems to me that these investors are in for a very rough ride indeed………….

Palmyra-Building
The Palmyra Rose Hall (still under construction by foreign investor…..)

On a side note, it is interesting that Mr Stewart blames his misfortunes on a cabal consisting of former tourism Minister Aloun Assamba, former State Minister of Tourism Wykeham McNeil and former Tourist Board Chairman Dennis Morrison. He also sticks it to former Minister of Finance Omar Davies. Considering that former Prime minister P.J. Patterson was responsible for bringing the Spanish hoteliers to Jamaica, and ex-Chairman of UDC, Vin Lawrence, aka God, was responsible for the massive cost overruns and building defects at Sandals Whitehouse, it suggests that Mr. Stewart thinks these gentlemen remain too powerful (or know too much) to be dissed in public, whereas his targets are has-beens who will not be back to haunt him……..

Energy

The late and unlamented Minister of Industry, Commerce and Energy, Phillip Paulwell, is under fire again over those free light bulbs he got from Cuba. Turns out that the fluorescent light bulbs were free and they were handed out by Cubans, but the Government of Jamaica agreed to pay transportation, handling, storage etc etc .

The monies paid for these expenses went to some little known company that didn’t bid for the job, and isn’t registered with the National Contracts Commission…….How much do you want to bet that the little known company will turn out to be owned by a PNP crony or even by Phillip Paulwell himself……

Wonder whether it will take two, three or five years to discover the exact extent of Phillip Paulwell’s ‘youthful exuberances’…….He must be first on the list of potential former Ministers to go to jail (you haven’t forgotten Portia sending J.A.G. Smith- her JLP predecessor as Minister of Labour- to prison for stealing farmworkers’ money, have you ? Someone in the PNP is going to have to pay for that …..)


“Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings: All New Listings of the Most Efficient Products You Can Buy” (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy)

Serious changes

(1) The new government is actually going to fund Parish Councils by allowing them to collect and keep property taxes. Could be the start of something good. However, I’ll believe it when I see it, and I only expect to see it if the JLP retains control of most of the Parish Councils in the upcoming Local Government Elections………..

(2) Colonel Trevor McMillan (former head of the police force, former head of the Revenue Protection Division) is to be a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Finance and Public Service. This is one of those jobs that involves rooting out corruption and going after corrupt people (in other words, treading on the corns of important private sector persons, dons from both parties, and sundry ‘small people’who will complain they ‘just want to eat a bread’…..)

This is also a believe-it-when-you-see-it deal, but with former Minister of National Security Peter Phillips to help him, Colonel McMillan may succeed in locking up a few PNP cronies and officials whom Peter Phillips would just as soon have out of the way (Phillip Paulwell, yuh really in trouble boy…..).

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Colonel Trevor McMillan

Woolmer death

The coroner’s inquest is turning out to be a re-run of the murder investigation with feuding pathologists, conflicting witnesses and all sorts of contradictory evidence…..

Air Jamaica’s future (or the deathwatch continues)

Shirley Williams, who, as head of Metropolitan Parks and Markets cleaned up Kingston in the 1980’s, has been given the job of fixing the problem that is Air Jamaica. The new Chairman promptly dispensed with the services of the CEO and said that she won’t be replacing him as she is looking for a partner to take the airline off the government’s budget, and the partner will likely want to put in their own CEO. Sounds good, and the kind of tough talk we expect from Shirley Williams.

Also sounds a bit optimistic as the ex-CEO confessed that Air Jamaica is not profitable on one single route. Not one single route….. Might be more of a loss leader than even Virgin Atlantic could think of taking on…….

Outcome of September 3 general election

D.K. Duncan, PNP, is to be declared the winner of the Eastern Hanover seat on Thursday. Final tally : JLP 32 seats, PNP 28 seats. Any changes after this will be a result of court action and not the choice of the electorate……

The courts will get a first look at the U.S. citizenship cases on October 31st (Daryl Vaz having asked to postpone the October 16 hearing, because he changed lawyers……)

Education and gender

Good news about boys at some of our boy’s schools doing very well in their exams has not damped down the arguing about women in tertiary education. Peter Espeut puts the blame on the colonial administration, UWI gender experts point out that doing well at university hasn’t translated into money and power for women, and Carolyn Cooper is annoyed that men are upset….

Meanwhile, we take note that in quite different societies with quite different histories (Norway, Iran and Saudi Arabia to name a few) the majority of university students are female…..

Serious tax problems


“Undisputed” (Beenie Man)


Beenie Man failed to show in court today to tell the judge about J$47 million in unpaid taxes. He’s been having a lousy year what with the whole of Jamaica discussing his divorce from D’Angel and trying to figure out his/her motives…….A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Real money issues

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has ‘revealed’ what every Jamaican knew already – inflation is way higher than the previous government let on. The new basket of goods for judging inflation shows inflation is 75% higher than previously stated. Glad to know that I wasn’t hallucinating the constant increase in prices over the last two years….

The new government is heavily into reviewing and revising the government machinery – reviews have ordered of everything from the health care system to Kingston’s drainage. We’ve also had lots of straight talk about “no quick fixes” .


“Wild Figments” (Michael Leunig)

This is all wonderful and very necessary (no doubt) BUT…in the past couple of months, price increases have reached us in everything from flour to chicken to rice to cement. The Jamaican dollar is following the U.S. dollar into the toilet. The economy is tanking. The schools still haven’t received their ‘free tuition’ money from the government…..Clean up after Hurricane Dean is stalling for lack of money….

Whatever the new government is planning to do for us, I’m thinking they should be starting right about now…..

And R.I.P. Lucky Dube


“The Way It Is” (Lucky Dube)

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The week: Who’s your daddy ?

Shame and scandal in the family: Yu father not yu father, but yu father don’t know…….

The Sunday Gleaner gave us something to talk about this week: DNA tests to prove paternity in Jamaica result in one third of Jamaican men doing the test finding out that they are not the baby father. This is supposedly higher than in other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. Much shock and much cussing all round.

So does this prove Jamaican women are more promiscuous, wickeder etc than women in other countries ? No, but it probably proves what we know already: – all the men who go around boasting that they have “nuff gal” are NOT just talking, and they are also NOT defying the laws of mathematics (see this New York Times article about the mathematical impossibility of a population with a lot of promiscuous men and a lot of chaste women).

Jamaican men have “nuff gal” AND Jamaican women have “nuff man” – it’s just that Jamaican women know better than to boast, and Jamaican men hate being reminded that their girlfriends and wives are not waiting quietly at home while they go out to check out the new ting…….


“Calypso Carnival” (Various Artists)

The new government is planning:

For Air Jamaica

Thinking about taking back the London route from Virgin Atlantic

Making the airline profitable by following yet another model, this time it’s the Sri Lankan model

What we can look forward to:


(1)A few more years of massive losses
(2) More chest-pounding talk about national pride
(3) Several more changes of the Board and the CEO
(4)
Virgin Atlantic taking market share from Air Jamaica and British Airways (try flying Virgin just once to understand why Air Jamaica can’t make it)


For the national debt

To tackle the debt by adhering strictly to fiscal targets

To widen the tax net and increase compliance

Growing the economy by 6 to 8% annually and collecting $10 to 20 billion in new taxes

What we can look forward to:

(1) Minister Without Portfolio Don Wehby getting an education in the difference between public and private sector fiscal management
(2) New taxes
(3) Growth (well, let’s hope and pray)


For the transport system

Reduce the losses (running at $100 million per month)

Get the hundreds of buses awaiting repair back on the road

What we can look forward to:

(1) More buses on the road
(2) Renaming of the losses as “government subsidy” (but, hopefully, not until after some significant loss reduction has occurred)


For the Local Government Elections

The elections are to be held as scheduled (i.e. before the end of December 2007)

What we can look forward to:

(1) Polls, polls, and more polls
(2) Analysts explaining why the polls are wrong


For National Security

New blood at the top of the
Jamaica Defence Force (Hardley Lewin out as JDF chief) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (Lucius Thomas out as Commissioner)

What we can look forward to:


(1) Lot of argument about the performance of the four Scotland Yardies and whether they should stay or go…..


Total amnesia section

Venture capitalists ?
Business leaders are supporting the establishment of a venture capital fund, as suggested by banker Ryland Campbell. This is because it’s a good way to kick start new businesses and help young entrepreneurs.

Also because the failure of previous venture capitalists to kick start new businesses (for example, Dennis Lalor and David Panton’s Caribbean Equity Partners; the Noel Lyon headed Jamaica Venture Fund; the government’s notorious Intech Fund/Universal Access Fund set up by the gone-but-not-forgotten Phillip Paulwell) should not prevent Mr. Campbell from throwing his money in the same direction……


“The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time” (David Vise, Mark Malseed)


Crime fighters ?
Business leaders are supporting
an increase in spending on fighting crime, rather than on education. This is because crime is an immediate problem and improving the education system is going to take time.

Also just because we have neglected education year after year, and crime has exploded, and every single analysis tells us that the criminals are poor, uneducated and unemployable young males, this is absolutely no reason to change our short-term quick-fix approach….. Absolutely no reason….

Beautiful women in politics – David Panton section


Womanmag8 Wendy Fitzwilliam and son, Ailan

Images-8 Lisa Hanna and son, Alexander


Miss World 1993 Lisa Hanna won her seat in recent general elections in Jamaica and now represents the people of South East St. Ann in Parliament.

Not to be outdone, Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam is planning to run for a seat in Trinidad’s general election set for November 5, 2007.

Both ladies have sons with David Panton, one time JLP candidate and Jamaican venture capitalist. Mr. Panton now resides in Atlanta and appears to have shelved his own political ambitions for the time being…..

Still pending: – the outcome of the September 3 general election

The legal battle for Eastern Hanover continues…. The PNP’s D.K. Duncan goes back to court today October 10, 2007……

First U.S. passport case (Daryl Vaz) will be in court next week Tuesday….

Performance review : Reggae Boyz section

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Captain Horace Burrell


The Captain is
set to get back in the saddle as President of the Jamaica Football Federation after the November 4, 2007 elections.

Soon-to-be-former-President Crenston Boxhill’s four years in office are notable only for the hiring of Bora as technical director.

As a few cynics have pointed out, Bora (at US $1million a year) costs Jamaica more than the annual salaries of Prime Minister Golding and his entire 18 member Cabinet…..And in November, he’ll have been here for a year…… So what has Bora done for us lately ? (Or ever, for that matter ? No offence meant…..)



“Luciano Pavarotti – Nessun dorma (Arias & Duets)” (Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Katia Ricciarelli)


“The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994 / William Cosel” (William Cosel)

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