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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