Monthly Archives: January 2013

GANJA REFORM – ANGELA BROWN-BURKE & RAYMOND PRYCE ON A ROLL

At the turn of the century then Prime Minister PJ Patterson established the National Commission on Ganja chaired by the late Professor Barry Chevannes. The final report which was quite comprehensive recommended the decriminalization of ganja in small quantities for private use by adults. Hardly any progress has happened since as government after government simply dragged their feet on the issue. The only glimmer of hope occurred under the previous administration which moved to send persons arrested for about eight ounces of the weed to the petty sessions court for adjudication.

 

decrim

USA MOVING FAST

Beyond that, in the United States of America just last year we saw where voters in the states of Colorado and Washington voted for the legalization of ganja for recreational use in small quantities. In WashingtonState today if you are 21 and older, one can possess up to an ounce of ganja for their own use among other variations for cakes, buns and teas. Sixteen other American states have enacted versions of ganja decriminalization including New York, California, North Carolina and Ohio. Internationally, the same is true in countries stretching from Europe to the Americas. Recreational ganja users no longer face time in jail and or suffer the misfortune of having a criminal record. Opposition Senator Tom Tavares-Finson shocked the nation when he last summer pointed out that at the Resident Magistrate Court in Half-Way-Tree alone,  approximately 300 young Jamaican males receive criminal records for small quantities of ganja on a weekly basis. A criminal record as we all know serves as a major impediment on upward mobility, as being able get visas, some jobs and take on other critical life endeavors become next to impossible.

GET JAMAICA MOVING

For a nation renowned worldwide for ganja, which is primarily attributable to our rich and unique Rastafarian influences, it is a crying shame that we continue to dawdle on an obviously absurd and unjust legal framework. The cultural issues aside, from an economic standpoint the country is in a very strong position to attract thousands more tourists to our shores, develop new industries, create jobs all while collecting millions in new revenues. In the state of Washington ganja legally sold from licensed state-licensed stores will be taxed at a rate of 25%, with experts already predicting a windfall of hundred of millions of US dollars in new revenue for the State on a yearly basis.

BROWN-BURKE AND PRYCE

Twelve years after the National Commission on Ganja report was submitted, Senator Angela Brown-Burke very recently in the Senate boldly called for the decriminalization of cannabis or ganja for medicinal reasons. Days after Mr. Raymond Pryce, Member of Parliament called for a debate on the decriminalisation of ganja as well as a prescribed legal limit for possession. Senator Brown-Burke in her presentation noted that, “There are other states and other countries that are way advanced than we are because they have taken that bold step to step forward.” The Senator who is also the Mayor of Kingston and inarguably the most powerful Vice President of the ruling PNP, deserves as much support as she can get and the same is true for Mr. Pryce, known to be particularly close to Prime Minister Simpson-Miller.

Former Government Senator Dennis Meadows and Member of Parliament Mike Henry have been vocal on the matter with very little action from the previous administration. In any event, Senator Brown-Burke’s and Mr. Pryce’s statements may very well represent a strong signal that the administration is moving speedily to unlock the massive and positive impact that decriminalization will have from cultural, social, judicial and economic standpoints. We hope that their bold positions will be furthered with the fixity of purpose and alacrity that is required. Let’s tax, regulate, control and educate on ganja. We have wasted enough time already. Let’s think big and get our country moving again.

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OPPOSITION WEIGHS IN ON VW AD CAMPAIGN

ed bartlett1

Mr. Bartlett urged the Minister of Tourism to move swiftly in reorienting marketing strategies to maximize the positive effects of the multi-million dollar VW Ad campaign

Opposition Spokesman for Tourism and former Minister, Mr. Edmund Bartlett said today that he and Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Andrew Holness view positively one of the Volkwagen’s 2013 Superbowl ads focused entirely on a happy theme buttressed by a man with a Jamaican accent. The ad campaign Mr. Bartlett says is a perfect illustration of Jamaican culture’s global reach and our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations.

This Mr. Bartlett says is underlined by the fact that Jamaica consistently ranks high on global happiness indices. He pointed out that with brand Jamaica showcased so prominently as a “happy” destination, we will only grow stronger and better.

Mr. Bartlett urged the Minister of Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill to move swiftly in reorienting marketing strategies to maximize the positive effects of the multi-million dollar VW Ad campaign and as such bring more tourists to our shores.

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Former Minister’s & MP Dog’s head chopped off by Metal Thieves

doberman

Return to anarchy; Thieves strike as Gov’t reopens scrap metal trade

Minister optimistic despite shaky restart to scrap metal trade

BY KARYL WALKER AND KIMMO MATTHEWS

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HOURS before the Government officially reopened the controversial scrap metal trade, thieves struck at the Red Hills, St Andrew home of parliamentarian Pearnel Charles.

Vandals removed several metal tables and chairs from a verandah at the MP’s home, raising doubts about new measures put in place to prevent the anarchy that forced a shutdown of the trade under the previous Jamaica Labour Party Government.

 “They came in and cleaned off every one. Maybe I am being targeted because they know I am defiantly opposed to the scrap metal trade. As far as I am concerned we don’t have a scrap metal trade, what we have is metal being scrapped,” Charles told the Jamaica Observer last night.

The country, he said, stands more to lose than any financial gain from the trade. “When you put a cost to security as a result of these metal scrapping terrorists you will see that it is zero for the country. We are losing man hours, industries have shut down. When you consider the amount of people who lose work, we are losing millions; 10 times what we are saving,” he said.

Charles said it was the second time in two years that he and his family had suffered at the hands of scrap metal thieves.

“Two years ago, they came with a truck and cut up my wife’s metal water tank and took it away. We are under pressure. We brought three dogs on board and they killed one and stole the other two. They chopped off the head of a Doberman,” a despondent sounding Charles said.

He was adamant that the resumption of the trade would bring a rise in criminality as there was nothing to discourage stealing. “The country will be better off without it, but we are good at politicising the poverty in Jamaica for political support,” he said.

Yesterday, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) lashed out against the resumption of the trade, saying in a release that the Government was incapable of regulating it.

“We are not convinced that the Government has the enforcement capability to regulate the trade. We are also concerned about the Riverton site, and had written to Minister Anthony Hylton, the minister of industry, investment and commerce, on December 20, 2012, expressing our scepticism that the Riverton site was able to accommodate increased traffic, and referring to all the many unsolved public health, environmental and security problems at Riverton,” the release stated.

JET said, too, that new scrap metal sites were an environmental hazard and in breach of environmental laws.

“Under the Natural Resources (Prescribed Areas) (Prohibition of Categories of Enterprises, Construction and Development) (Amendment) Order 2003 enterprises involved in the storage of scrap metal, including derelict vehicles, require an environmental permit,” said JET. It added that following an Access to Information Act inquiry to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), it was advised that NEPA had not received applications for the required permits.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Return-to-anarchy–Thieves-strike-as-Gov-t-reopens-scrap-metal-trade_13515479#ixzz2JNMppNWh

 

 

MINISTER HYLTON COMPROMISED… SCRAP METAL TRADE REOPENING ILL-ADVISED

 

Opposition Spokesperson for Industry, Commerce and Energy, Mr. Gregory Mair said that Industry Minister Anthony Hylton by reopening the scrap metal trade has put the interest of his constituents, where many of the dealers in this industry reside, above the interest of Jamaica on a whole.

 

Mr. Mair asked that the Minister advise the nation on:

 

(1) the cost to taxpayers for the monitoring of the trade as against the projected income into the government’s coffers;

 

(2) what guarantee there is that the foreign exchange earned will return to Jamaica , and also;

 

(3) whether any broad feasibility study of the trade was done by the government to support its policy actions.

Mr. Mair pointed out that the Minister’s actions will very likely amount to the institutionalization of the theft of property across the island including manhole covers, railings on roadways and bridges, water pumps, gates, cables, utility company equipment, traffic signs, roofs and so on as the supply cannot meet the demand for non-industrial scrap metal on a sustainable basis.

 

Mr. Mair maintained that while there may be benefits to reopening the trade, it must be done with sensible and pragmatic policies guided by a feasibility study.

 

At the very least Mr. Mair noted, the best way forward for the industry, is to have legal owners of NON-INDUSTRIAL scrap metal periodically negotiate in the marketplace DIRECTLY with legitimate dealers.

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MINISTER HYLTON COMPROMISED… SCRAP METAL TRADE REOPENING ILL-ADVISED

GREGORY-MAIR

Opposition Spokesperson for Industry, Commerce and Energy, Mr. Gregory Mair said that Industry Minister Anthony Hylton by reopening the scrap metal trade has put the interest of his constituents, where many of the dealers in this industry reside, above the interest of Jamaica on a whole.

Mr. Mair asked that the Minister advise the nation on:

(1) the cost to taxpayers for the monitoring of the trade as against the projected income into the government’s coffers;

(2) what guarantee there is that the foreign exchange earned will return to Jamaica , and also;

(3) whether any broad feasibility study of the trade was done by the government to support its policy actions.

Mr. Mair pointed out that the Minister’s actions will very likely amount to the institutionalization of the theft of property across the island including manhole covers, railings on roadways and bridges, water pumps, gates, cables, utility company equipment, traffic signs, roofs and so on as the supply cannot meet the demand for non-industrial scrap metal on a sustainable basis.

Mr. Mair maintained that while there may be benefits to reopening the trade, it must be done with sensible and pragmatic policies guided by a feasibility study.

At the very least Mr. Mair noted, the best way forward for the industry, is to have legal owners of NON-INDUSTRIAL scrap metal periodically negotiate in the marketplace DIRECTLY with legitimate dealers.

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GOVERNMENT FLOSSIN LIKE THE FLOSSIN KING!?

PaulwellPartyN20130113WS

FLOSSIN

The Sunday Gleaner story today detailing hyper spending by the government on Christmas Parties came as no surprise. The Ministry of Finance of all Ministries spent J$1.275 million on its Christmas party by the Caymanas Golf and Country Club; talk about fiscal responsibility! Meanwhile, the Transport and Works Ministry headed by no other than every productive businessman’s worst nightmare Dr. Omar Davies, former Finance Minister, spent under a million on their shinding at the National Housing Trust’s Sports Club. Similar cases spread across the length and breadth of government with the government shelling dung millions.

ECONOMY IN CRISIS

Jamaica has seen a major and frighteningly frenetic reversal in the economic gains of 2011. The Net International Reserves has plunged from just about US$2 billion to just around US$1.1 billion to date. Beyond that the exchange rate has galloped from J$86: US$1 to around J$94:US$1, interest rates are going up, prices are rising fast, unemployment is at a ten year high and business and consumer confidence levels are dismal. Yet in the midst of this economic disaster resulting more and more from poor leadership there are astonishing levels of misery and confusion across the island while the government continues to spend scarce tax dollars like how any Millionaire Rapper would.

HYPOCRISY?

The government tells Jamaicans over and over to tighten their belts, demand that public sector workers absorb another wage freeze and readies to land billions of dollars more in oppressive taxes. Nevertheless, they buy 16 brand new luxury SUVs for themselves, take on scores of multi-million dollar Advisors and Consultants; maintain a huge 20 member Cabinet, spend over J$140 million on a grand party in London during the Olympics, rack up multi-million phone bills, snap up Jazz and Blues tickets for family and friends and now spend liberally on Christmas parties?

Recall in 2010 then Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his Cabinet instructed that no public funds should be spent by Ministries and the broader Public Sector for Christmas parties, given the state of the economy, saving us millions of dollars.

Oh wouldn’t Jamaica do good with a Bruce Golding now.

Sunday Gleanerhttp://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130127/lead/lead74.html

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Government’s Phone Call Tax of 40 cents Per Minute Hits Hard

taxes

LIME – Press Release

Customer Advisory : Special Telephone Tax – Product Changes

Jan 22, 2013 :

Dear Valued Customer,

LIME delivered amazingly low call rates to the Jamaican consumer in June 2012 and we went further by absorbing the Special Telephone Call Tax (STCT) when it was implemented a month later. Regrettably, after 6 months of doing so, we are unable to continue.

In a move to simplify our tariff structure, LIME will discontinue absorbing the STCT on Mobile calls and begin to apply the 40 cents per minute charge effective Monday, February 4, 2013.

This means the STCT – billed on a per second basis – will be applied to all In Plan and Out-of-Plan minutes. We have allotted an additional 200 minutes free of charge to WorldPak Postpaid Plans that will be subject to the STCT.

Despite the change, LIME is still Jamaica’s best value mobile network.

Thank you for your business.

Garfield Sinclair
CEO, LIME Jamaica and Cayman

http://www.lime.com/jm/news/press_release.jsp?view=JM.42024

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JAZZ & BLUES TICKETS/ HOTEL ROOMS FOR MINISTERS USING TAX DOLLARS ?

portia-cabinet

Jamaica’s Cabinet (2 Ministers not in picture)

 

Several Government Ministries and other public bodies have already bought or were planning to purchase several dozen VIP Jazz & Blues tickets along with luxury Hotel accommodations along the Rose Hall Elegant Corridor (Montego Bay) using Tax Dollars for Ministers, their wives/ other companions, personal assistants, security detail and other persons.

Thankfully the Cabinet Secretary Douglas Saunders nipped the evolving scandal in the bud!

Nevertheless this comes as no surprise, as while the government tells Jamaicans over and over the tighten their belts, demand that public sector workers absorb another wage freeze and readies to land billions more in oppressive taxes; they buy 16 luxury SUVs for Ministers, take on scores of multi-million dollar Advisors and Consultants; maintain a huge 20 member Cabinet, spend over J$140 million on a grand party in London during the Olympics and rack up multi-million phone bills!

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One of the 16 New Prados bought with Tax dollars parked with engine throttling at Megamart last Christmas Eve

There are countless cases of profligate spending by our Government; first class tickets and high end accommodations for the Prime Minister and her Ministers has already run into tens of millions. Beyond that our Prime Minister who rides around in a modified BMW 5 series insists that she needs a new vehicle.
As all this unfolds our Minister of Finance Dr. Peter Phillips told Public Sector workers boldly during the budget debate last year that, “It cannot make sense to break into an empty shop, mek no sense to raid an empty cupboard. There is very little in the cupboard at this point in time”
When will it end?

See Jamaica Observer story today below with further information.

 

JAMAICA OBSERVER

‘No jazz on public funds’
Cabinet secretary issues strong warning to Gov’t officials
Friday, January 25, 2013

CABINET Secretary Ambassador Douglas Saunders has warned Government officials against using public money to attend the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival now on in Trelawny, the Jamaica Observer learnt last night.

The warning was issued on Wednesday in the form of an official circular to the financial secretary and permanent secretaries, a copy of which was obtained by the Observer.

“It has come to attention that some ministries and other public bodies may be contemplating the utilisation of public resources to facilitate the attendance of public officials and other persons at the forthcoming Jamaica Jazz and Music Festival,” Saunders wrote in the circular.

“As such use of public resources would be inappropriate, you are hereby requested to ensure that no such expenditure is undertaken by your ministry or entities falling within its portfolio purview,” Saunders added.

The Observer was unable to get in touch with Saunders last night. However, a highly placed Government source said that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had made it clear that Government officials attending the three-night festival must do so at their own expense, unless they were going there to work, and even then, any spending must be within reason.

The source was unable to confirm that the instructions were issued after it emerged that persons in the local government ministry were planning to buy a lot of tickets for officials and their friends.
More here…

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-No-jazz-on-public-funds-_13491710#ixzz2J1HYvVIa

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