Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Black Friday “Videolight” Sham? “EASING OFF” the Pressure from a failing Government?

The recent Black Friday protests arranged in response to the recent spate of horrid sex crimes and led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s office are now over. It was a very clever government Public Relations initiative aimed primarily at “easing off” the pressure from a failing government. Hugo Chavez would have applauded the Government.

 

It’s understandable though, after all, the Minister of National Security Peter Bunting and Prime Minister Portia Simspon-Miller wasted nine months in office doing nothing of significance in the fight against crime and violence. Here are some examples;

 

  1. The previous administration completed work on the Anti-Gang legislation a critical tool needed by the good men and women of our security forces to effectively fight crime and violence. To date this government has done nothing to get it moved through Parliament and ultimately instituted
  2. The previous administration completed work on the DNA legislation another critical tool needed by the good men and women of our security forces to effectively fight crime and violence. To date this government has done nothing to get it moved through Parliament and ultimately instituted
  3. Joint Police Military Patrols for Crime ridden parishes such as St. James have gone missing. What is happening? How did we get here?
  4. The Minister is yet to address the nation on a clearly defined plan to tackle the now apparent uptick in crime and violence especially after the murders of two Policemen including a very senior retired Cop and a Soldier in September alone. let’s not even mention the Medical Doctors and countless other Jamaicans killed. Where is the sense of urgency? In other countries that’s a crisis!

 

Instead, the newscasts last night showed small yet organized “for the videolight” protests led by Government Ministers and Mayors who should have been at work governing, not protesting. The posters were nicely done and the black shirt uniform. Among those out leading protests were the Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, Information Minister and PM Simpson-Miller confidant Sandrea Falconer, Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown-Burke and many other leading Government officials and PNP executives.

 

As I said before Government’s sole role is to govern, not lead civil protests; seriously, if we are all protesting together, who the dickens is in charge? Who controls the levers of Public Policy and Statecraft? Who runs things? The government or the criminals? Why doesn’t President Barack Obama lead protests on Wall Street, New York condemning greedy Bankers? It’s just ridiculous, that’s why!

 

The Prime Minister is back in Jamaica after nice trip to New York City this time around. Her office complained about giving out her straight line office contact number, so here is the switchboard number (876) 927-4101 or email pres.pnp@cwjamaica.com and demand in the interest of people power, proper representation. If you don’t get through ask for one of her many elite Multi-Million dollar salaried Advisors, like say Deborah Hickling or Pamella Redwood.

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Wear Black for What? Symbolism? Do Something Better.. Call the PM Yourself – 929-9101

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PHILLIPS MISLEADING THE COUNTRY ABOUT DISBURSEMENTS FROM MULTILATERAL AGENCIES/JLP

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Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Planning, Growth and Economic Development today said that the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. The Hon Peter Phillips has grossly misled the people of Jamaica concerning the disbursement of funds from Multilateral Agencies, when he claimed that the absence of an IMF Agreement has hindered disbursement.

Dr Phillips had claimed in an interview with Ian Boyne, that there is a distinction between projects signed and actual disbursements, and explicitly stated that disbursements were being held up on loans signed last year due to the absence of an IMF Agreement.

However, this has been sharply denied by Mr Shaw who today provided the following status of loans disbursed and booked last year from the World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), to clarify the misleading information provided by the Minister.

1. World Bank

A total of US$126m was disbursed from the World Bank during 2011, representing US$26.0m under the Rural Development and Energy programmes and a US$100.0 Development Policy Loan at 1.2 percent interest rate which was signed and disbursed in the last quarter of 2011.
There was no delay due to the IMF.

2. IDB

In 2011 a total of US$328m in new loans was approved for Jamaica and US$95m was disbursed. In November of last year three of these loan agreements totalling US$218.0m were signed with the IDB, of which US$133m was for the NWC, US$65.0m for Fiscal Administration at the Ministry of Finance and US$20.0 for Energy Efficiency at the Ministry of Energy.

Mr Shaw said that while disbursements under these programmes have been held up, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the IMF Agreement. This, he said, has been confirmed by the IDB. He provided the following summary of the reasons for the delay in these disbursements:

3. NWC-US$133.0m

This was held up because the NWC started using the more expensive BNS Loan first, and only after the IDB threatened to withdraw the loan, the NWC finally started using it a short while ago.

4. Fiscal Administration-us$65.0

This was to be used to improve Revenue and Customs Administration by the Ministry of Finance but so far nothing appears to be happening and no disbursement was made by the IDB.

5. Energy Efficiency

The Ministry of Energy apparently made serious project management errors that have hampered this programme. The MOE is now trying to get it back on track.

“It is therefore clear that contrary to the Minister seeking to cast blame on the absence of an IMF Agreement, the real culprits are the implementing Agencies, including his own Ministry,” Mr Shaw said.

“Dr Phillips needs to stop misleading the country and start doing his job as Minister by ensuring the timely expenditure of cheap money (1.2percent per annum interest rate) which were obtained by the previous Government and which now lay languishing due to inefficiency and downright incompetence.”

“It is high time that this Administration and the Finance Minister stop the complaining and spreading falsehood and do the work that the taxpayers of this country are paying them to do,” Mr Shaw said.

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Shaw: Government Confused on IMF Negotiations / No Credit to JLP Govt on Projects Announced

The following is a response by Opposition Spokesman for Finance, Planning, Growth and Economic Development, Mr. Audley Shaw

 

The Government’s position on the state of negotiations with the IMF is confused and conflicting.

In Parliament, as late as last week, the Minister of Finance gave the impression that an agreement is on track with the IMF by December. But in her speech at the National Arena, the Prime Minister is singing a different song which casts doubt on the actual time it will take to secure an agreement.

 

The Prime Minister said “it is difficult to provide a definitive date for an IMF Agreement and we do not intend to make any predictions or pronouncements.”

Did Peter Phillips approve the script from which the Prime Minister spoke? Especially having regard to the fact that he has consistently told us of his expectation of a December Agreement.

 

To add further to the intrigue, the IMF representative has himself cautioned against setting time lines for an agreement, obliquely implying that prior action implementation is required on Tax Reform and other benchmarks before discernible progress toward an agreement can be made.

 

The clearest conclusion that can therefore be drawn from this picture of confusion and contradictory statements from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance is that so far it’s all talk and no action and until there is measurable and verifiable prior action, there will be no IMF Agreement, leaving the country adrift with no access to critical external resources, thereby putting the stability of the economy at risk.

 

We take note of the PM’s simplistic trotting out of the JLP’s record over the last four years without honestly and graciously accepting that the JLP inherited a low growth and highly indebted economy and had to simultaneously cope with a world economic crisis and despite all this, kept the economy stable with a healthy NIR, a stable exchange rate, low inflation, record low interest rates and a return to growth in the economy.

 

The Prime Minister laments that 58 percent of the budget goes to service debt without remembering that in Omar Davies’ 14 years as Minister, debt servicing as a percentage of the budget was also over 50 percent and on several occasions was over 60 percent.

 

Mr. Shaw said that during his tenure as Minister, debt servicing as a percentage of the budget went to as low as 47 percent.

 

Mr. Shaw also said that the Prime Minister was being less than honest in announcing investment projects, most of which were conceived, booked and financed during the tenure of the JLP, without acknowledging the role of the previous Government in their implementation.

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JAMAICAN COUNCILLOR TO BOYCOTT RETREAT AT OCHO RIOS RESORT— WASTE OF TAX DOLLARS

 
Councillor for the Chancery Hall Division, Mr. Duane Smith today said that he will boycott a planned retreat by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) at an all inclusive resort in Ocho Rios this weekend, in light of the fact that the still blurred objectives of the retreat can be met in Kingston, saving the cash strapped Council hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
Mr. Smith says that the KSAC should set a clear agenda of work going forward, make every effort to keep costs very low in this time of economic crisis and work to better allocate scare resources for the benefit of taxpayers.  
 
He added that since the devastation associated with Tropical Storm Isaac in the Chancery Hall Division, he wrote to the Mayor four (4) times seeking urgent assistance including clearing rubble from streets to allow trapped residents access to and from their homes. He said that the funds that would have been used to pay for his accommodations at a resort in Ocho Rios should be made available to help with the urgent issues in the Council including cleaning of debris associated with Tropical storm Isaac that is still causing a major inconvenience to his constituents.
 
Mr. Smith, 30, is one of the youngest Councillors in Jamaica . He is a Businessman and son of Member of Parliament, Derrick Smith. He holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelors degree in Business from the Nova Southeastern University and the Florida International University respectively.
 
The newly created Chancery Hall division is drawn from the realignment of three constituencies – North West , West and West Rural St . Andrew. Its communities include Patrick City , Meadowbrook Estate, Perkins Estate, sections of Duhaney Park , Kirkland Heights , Belvedere, Forest Hills and Queen Hill. The division is located in the North West St. Andrew constituency currently held by his father.

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Protect the right to life of pregnant mothers and their unborn children – Grange

Opposition Spokesperson on Youth, Sports, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Culture, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, has expressed condolences to the families of Jamaicans who have been murdered over the past seven days, especially the three pregnant women who were killed within a matter of six days.
 
“I am deeply hurt by the increasing number of murders which have been occurring recently, and I am especially saddened by the news that three pregnant women, including two who were 8-9 months pregnant, were not shown any mercy by the killers, and their unborn children were not even given a chance to experience birth,” Miss Grange said in a statement issued today.
 
“These are glaring examples of the low level to which respect for life and humanity has descended in the society, and it requires that we, as leaders of the society, move to introduce more potent measures to protect the right to life of pregnant mothers and their unborn children,” she added.
 
Miss Grange said that there is a need to make the murder of pregnant women, especially those whose foetus is already at the point of viability, capital murder, in light of the fact that it is the murder of two human beings capable of existing as separate individuals. She said that this protection should also be extended to compensation from the state when the Police are involved, especially in cases where no effort is made to save the life of the unborn child.
 
Miss Grange said that her understanding is that, after the shooting of Kay-Ann Lamont in Yallahs, St. Thomas on Friday, no attention was paid to saving the life of the unborn child, although the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) use of firearms policy require that the situation be dealt with, with dispatch. She said that it in her view, it is unfortunate, that although the policeman indicted in the Yallahs shooting has been charged with four crimes, none of which relate to the death of Miss Lamont’s unborn child. I am not aware of what was the case in St. James, but it is quite possible that the same attitude was also displayed there.
 
“I hope that my call is not interpreted as being anti-abortion, which I am not, but I am convinced that Jamaica must introduce more severe legislation to protect the right to life of the matured foetus, as well as the mother,” Miss Grange stated.

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THREATS ON ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST FOR SPEAKING OUT

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The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party today called on Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and the National Security Minister Peter Bunting to move swiftly at condemning the threats made against prominent Roman Catholic Priest Monsignor Gregory Ramkisson and to ensure that the Police have in place the necessary security measures for his safety.

 
National Security Spokesman Delroy Chuck expressed shock at the threats, which according to a news report, is a result of his criticism of government over the killing by a Policeman of eight months pregnant 27 years old Kay-Ann Lamont in St. Thomas and the eviction of dozens of adults and children from a property on Duke Street in Downtown, Kingston recently.

 
Monsignor Ramkisson is the founder and head of Mustard Seed Communities, a major charity that aides thousands of vulnerable Jamaicans.

 
Mr. Chuck reminded all Jamaicans that each and every individual has a right to freedom of speech and should NOT be threatened into silence for publicly speaking on the many wrongs in our society, whether its affects the government, the opposition or any other group or persons. Mr. Chuck went on to state that the mere fact that a Clergyman is subjected to threats and calls to “retract” his statements brings Jamaica to yet a new low and is reflective of a hostile environment where the government and its supporters are very sensitive to even the slightest criticism.  

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