As if we did not have enough incompetence in 18.5 yrs, just over 50% of the disillusioned electorate decided that things were not headed in the direction that they were expecting. High on the agenda of the electorate, were no jobs that were promised by the then JLP when they were in opposition. In addition certain MP’s like Daryl Vaz, Mike Henry among others were described as too arrogant and not willing to listen to the people and they would have none of it.
Christopher Tufton who was widely considered a star performer in the JLP administration was given the boot, for his audacity to shut down the scrap metal industry as well as changing the size of the nets and fish pots, thus reducing the fisher folks catch.
What Tufton failed to do in relation to the fish pots, was to go on a educational campaign to let these folks know, that if we are to have a viable and sustainable fish industry, we must allow breeding to take place and if we over fish (as was being done) sooner or later we would have to go further and further out of sea to make good catches, which increases the safety risk of the fisher folks.
The point I am making is, changes were being made but the people were not being included in the process as they should and as far as they are concerned the JLP is brown man party and “ mek dem can’t eat nuh food”.
Many persons would want us to believe that the Dudus issue played a large role in the JLP loss, not so. The many rational person who were able to determine that the link between the JLP and Dudus (Shower Posse) was bad for the country in terms of the link between politics and criminality spoke a lot but did not actually vote. The vote was larger against the background of hardship and less food. Jamaicans for the most part DO NOT vote on issues, they typically vote straight across party lines and for who makes the promise of “ more food”.
So in January 2012, they PNP took over the leadership of the country once again and my word, they have done an even better job of destroying, what little hope Jamaica had in terms of a turn around in the fortunes of the country.
The JLP failed to be trustworthy in its deliberation with the IMF and was ably supported by the then opposition PNP. For example the JLP had agreed to keep public sector wages at a certain level in relation to GDP, but as soon as they got the IMF money, they decided to give public sector workers a big (retroactive) salary hike.
The then PNP was supportive of the workers claim for the money that was promised to then and thus inadvertently supported the JLP in breaching the terms of the IMF agreement. Today the PNP is attempting to strike a new deal with the fund, but they will not budge on certain conditionality because they simply do NOT trust our politicians given what the JLP did and the support the PNP inadvertently gave, when they sided with the public sector workers.
In addition the present government has stated that their will be no massive lay off in the public sector, which runs counter to what the IMF wants and has failed to offer another method of achieving a lower public sector wage bill as a % GDP. In addition the government has failed to address two other key points, those are tax reforms and pension reforms.
The PNP is so afraid of losing an election, that they are willing to string Jamaicans along wanting us to believe that somehow they can take the tough decisions without delivering the bitter medicine to the sick patient (Jamaica).
The PNP actually is the best party to take such drastic measures, because it appears to have a knack for having the public support in whatever it does. The party leader is seen as a caring person and if she is able to convince Jamaicans and show tangible evidence that these tough measures will make life better for us [say] in another 5 to 10 yrs, who knows what card can play.
The problem is the party does not have a credible rescue plan for the country and is merely drifting along and hoping that by some miracle things will begin to turn around. The party leader has turned out to be a disappointing coward, who runs away from making the tough decisions and instead pushes her team forward to take the blows, while she continues to lead from behind.
This is the exact opposite of what we would expect from a leader who really wants to make a big mark on the Jamaican landscape and achieve the enviable mark of moving 500,000 persons of the 1.3m currently below the poverty line.
The present PNP government reminds me off a person trying stop a leaking pipe by applying duct tape over the leak vs locking off the water for a few hours, repair the damn leak and then turning back on the water once the repairs has been completed.
JEEP is the duct tape being applied to the employment problem facing Jamaica and while it will hold for a while, the duct tape will come loose in a short time and the leak resumes. The PNP however is not willing to take the risk of pissing off people in order to get the job done properly and will keep applying more and more tape to mask the real problem vs fixing it.
If we took 10% of the JEEP funds and used it to purchase farming equipment, provide training for these farmers in terms of crop rotation, cash crops to plant and provide the government land to be used for farming, while providing help with marketing outlet for these crops, what difference do you think this would make.
For one these persons (if managed properly) would be engaged in a venture that would be sustainable and provide a continuous source of employment and income, but that is just not how the present PNP thinks. Give people “ a food” now and hope they will eat and go away.
Consider this over $200m was spent on the old Goodyear tyre manufacturing plant over there in St Thomas, which is currently sitting idle.What if the government decided to engage the Chinese to setup a solar panel manufacturing plant here in Jamaica? This plant would be not only make the panels, but would also make the solar cells. Solar cells are made from Silica and St Thomas in particular has one of the largest supplies of Silica (Sand) in Jamaica.
The solar panels could then be exported to the wider Caribbean thus earning much need foreign exchange, while simultaneously being used to make complete solar systems, which could go a far way in reducing Jamaica high energy cost.
We have been using Chinese funds to expand our road network, which while desirable, is not the best use of borrowed funds at this time, given the fact these projects really do not generate enough revenue to help offset the overall cost of these loans. Its time to stop doing these darn show piece project and instead use more of these funds to create real and sustainable jobs. Once we start earning, sure we can go dig down the hillside to make more highways.
Part of the JEEP fund could be used to train potential workers at the heart academy, thus preparing these folks for a permanent job in a relatively high tech industry. Here we would see actual return on the JEEP funds given the fact that we could employ locals’ vs hiring a whole bunch of expatriate workers, thus keeping the money here in Jamaica.
These would be real and sustainable jobs, which means more payroll tax income as well as more GCT collections since there will be more money in an expanding economy, which would augur well from government revenues.
We can longer continue this stupid policy of trying to extract more money out on a contracting economy, what is required is an expansion of the economy, which will ultimately lead to more money without taxing the already burden tax payers.
The present government came into power without a coherent plan in any area, be it the economy, crime, education, health and the results of this is plain for everyone to see. The latest initiative to gain FDI is a change in the tax regime, which the minister of Finance “ Hopes will encourage more companies to setup their Head quarters here in Jamaica”
What I would have expected is the following. The Minister of Investment and Commerce during this worldwide tours in trying to secure more FDI, would have engaged some relatively larger companies and these CEO would have said something along this line “ we certainly would move our HQ to Jamaica if you make some adjustment to your tax regime”.
The Minister of Investment and Commerce would have then approached the Minister of Finance and said we have potentially x number of companies, which could bring in potentially X millions of dollars by making these changes.
This in my mind would be more definitive and shows that some thought and projections really went into this even though no actual contracts were signed, but at least we would know what we are likely to see in terms in income into the Jamaican economy.
Mr. Minister while I think the concept is a good one, there are so many things that are lacking, which shows not much thought went into this.
- What sectors are we going after?
- Do we have the skills set to take up position in these (potential) companies?
- If the answer to the above is, no then what plans are we drafting to ensure that local are prepared for jobs in these companies?
- Part of the condition that was reported, was 30% of the jobs must be locals, but in what capacity. Does this 30% include managerial and technical /engineering positions. If this condition is not specific, what we could end up with is the high income jobs are not held by Jamaicans and instead held by outsiders
The problem with the last bullet above is that the revenue from these companies would very low in terms of payroll taxes, if only menial low paying jobs are held by Jamaicans. So we would end up with the companies here, but very little in terms of revenue to the country. (Recall they would pay virtually no tax outside of those paid by locals).
This present set of PNP representative have a knack for signing agreements, with much fanfare then fails to deliver value to the country and we have a country where the citizens refuses to ask for proof that the stated initiatives are achieving its stated intent.
Take for example highway 2000 network of roads, how many knows some of the terms and conditions given to NROCC. When I read the document some years ago, what I found was that Robert Pickergill had virtually killed the resumption of rail service in Jamaica.
The item really stuck with me, was where it said [to the effect] that should the government expand, develop or otherwise provide an alternative route that reduces income at the toll booth, would see the government being billed and the people of Jamaica would have to pay the toll operators the difference between projected earnings based on traffic profile that was used to set toll rates and actual earnings.
This essentially means where the toll rd exist, the government cannot improve alternative road network in terms of expansion, that would take people off the toll rd, so no PNP government would ever seek to have a viable rail service. That is the unvarnished truth as it relates to the re-introduction of rail service here in Jamaica.
Enough for one day, need to go chill out yah now.
Maybe more in the new few days as I do what I call a brain dump.
See below the NROCC document referred to above.
Go straight to page 55, the section I want you to read is highlighted.
Ok, I am done for the day. :)
Filed under: Economics, Finance, Infrastructure, Jobs, Politics | 6 Comments »