Monthly Archives: March 2013

AUDLEY SHAW ON PHILLIPS’ LATEST IMF FAILURE

Audley-Shaw

Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Planning, Growth and Economic Development, Audley Shaw, today said that the Finance Minister Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips has done precious little in his press conference to clear up what is emerging as a debacle in securing an agreement with the IMF.

Mr. Shaw said that after a fifth Cabinet Retreat which reported that all prior actions for an agreement has been met, the Finance Minister has now admitted that the promised deadline for a March agreement will not be met and he hopes for an agreement “as soon as possible”.

Mr. Shaw said that this latest state of confusion in the management of the economy is compounded by the lack of transparency in a reported private debt exchange and the mystery surrounding discussions taking place with other multilateral institutions.

Mr. Shaw said that urgent action must now be taken by the government to secure an agreement and restore confidence in the economy, stop the decline in the value of the dollar, halt sharply rising prices and job losses which are increasing by the day.

Mr. Shaw also called on the Prime Minister The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, to assert herself and take control of her government that is now drifting like a helmless vessel in confusion and leaving the people of Jamaica in a state of panic and bewilderment.

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PETER PHILLIPS & THE IMF – MUST READ – T.H.I.N.K. JAMAICA

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by Durie D.

The Jamaica Gleaner and Jamaica Observer have made this piece an easy one.  Walk with me as we go through the timeline of “IMF Deal” promises made by Dr. Phillips, as captured by our newspapers’ (and one radio news) headlines and reports:

  • August 23, 2012: “Phillips Firm on IMF Wrap-Up” – Jamaica Gleaner *Note: “Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Peter Phillips yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to wrap up negotiations for a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement by September. (emphasis mine) (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120823/lead/lead5.html)

Whew!  I felt like I was just playing a game of “Send the fool a litte further…”!!!

…and so it continues….

Durie D.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/think-jamaica/dr-phillips-and-that-seemingly-elusive-imf-deal/360712370712185

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BRUCE GOLDING’S FIRST PUBLIC SPEECH IN OVER A YEAR – KEY QUOTES

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Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding was the official Guest Speaker at the packed Jamaica Chamber of Commerce 31st annual awards dinner at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica last Thursday night. Mr. Golding clinically assessed the matters related to the IMF and Jamaica’s economy, while offering advice to Prime Minister Simpson-Miller. This is Mr. Golding’s first public speech in over a year. His words were wise, sobering and very well-received.

Here are most of his key statements:

THE IMF

The suspense and the agonizing that have attended these negotiations bring with them a tactical hazard, that we may be inclined to comfort ourselves that concluding a new IMF agreement is the ultimate goal, the end of a long an difficult struggle. We would do well to recall the words of Winston Churchill in 1942 when Britain’s fortunes in World War 2 began to change, and he said that, This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, it is perhaps the end of the beginning

The choices that are open to us are so stark and so few that we cannot afford not to get it right this time, we must do what is needed to get us back on our feet or we must be prepared to remain bedridden.

We have been around this mulberry bush for so long that it is not hard to understand why the Jamaican people are so skeptical of any new adjustment program because they fear that it is going to be only a matter of time before we stumble upon another crunch time. It is this diminishing credibility of successive adjustments that make it important for us to get it right once and for all. Both historical and contemporary experience show us, that timidity, half measures not only do not fix the problem but make that fix even more painful in the future…

THE WAY FORWARD

I am not in a position to prescribe the precise mix of policies and actions that government needs to take; I have been away from the numbers and the modeling of alternative strategies for almost 18 months, what I am absolutely clear about, is that the actions enunciated so far will not put us on a path to economic growth, they may meet the conditions embodied in the IMF agreement, but even if it won’t be business as usual, it will be merely be business as it use to be before we got to the edge of the cliff, not business as it needs to be to sustain hope, stimulate investments, create jobs and promote growth.

The Measures that need to be taken must go beyond those that the IMF requires in order to create space for pro-growth initiatives. In other words we need to be IMF plus if we are to stand a chance of not just passing IMF tests but getting to the stage where we can stand on our own feet once again.

THE PUBLIC SECTOR

It is an illusion of compassion, an illusion of compassion for us to maintain hundreds of government departments and agencies when there is no money to fund the work that those agencies and departments are to do. So for no fault of their own they are sitting down basically idle, because all we can pay are the salaries and the utilities and we are not able to fund the programmes, the work that they are supposed to do. In the process we simply put the future of the entire country in peril.

TAX REFORM

The comprehensive tax reforms proposals that were taken to Parliament in 2011 have been so adulterated, these were proposals designed broadly speaking to broaden the tax net and reduce the tax rates, they have been so adulterated that what is being implemented now is a mere shadow of what was originally conceived.

PENSION REFORM

The Pension reform proposals which were also taken into Parliament in 2011, I have just been told have been put off for another 3 years. The cost of government pension doubled in the last 5 years and are likely to double again in the next 3 years.

PUBLIC SECTOR RATIONALISATION

The Public Sector Rationalisation      Program, again presented to Parliament in May of 2011, designed to merge      the functions of several government agencies and to reduce the size of the      Public Sector by over 10,000 over the next 5 years are over a five year      period have been dealt a severe blow by the government’s undertaking that      there will be no lay offs.

CIVIL SOCIETY AND DECISION MAKING

As our democracy has matured and as civil society have become more engaged and more organized there is this increasing demand for consultation, that is healthy and it can be beneficial to government in securing greater understanding creating confidence, building partnerships. And in those consultations the government must be disposed to listen to contrary views and to adopt suggestions that can improve the effectiveness of government policy. But we must never lose sight of the fact that it is the government, not civil society groups that was elected to formulate and implement the policies that IT, the government, considers appropriate and necessary for the good management of the public affairs of Jamaica as the oath of office prescribes. Too often the demand for consultations leads to the insistence on consensus; consensus invariably requires compromise, that often so disembowels the original policy proposal that the objective is lost. Many of the issues that must be dealt with are so contentious that consensus is just not possible given the competing and indeed conflicting interests of the various groups in the society. After the consultations have been held the government must be bold enough to take the tough decisions that it considers necessary and it must get on with it, and claim the credit for their success or be prepared to accept the blame for their failure.

PARADIGM SHIFT NEEDED

Of course it is easy for me to say these things now because I am no longer in office. I am no longer buffeted by the political and other constraints of that office. I am not seeking office either and so I don’t I am not hostage to the need to say popular things. But my 4 years in office and the severity of the financial crisis that exposed our nakedness convinced me that a paradigm shift is needed. It is by no means an easy path, it will involve serious political risk it requires not only strong political leadership, but a strong political mandate unencumbered by the size of its Parliamentary majority, unencumbered by the imminence of the next election and unencumbered by questions of credibility, as I encountered because of that extradition matter.

The government wasted in my view its best opportunity right after the last election which it won with a 2 to 1 majority, its mandate was fresh, it’s mandate was strong. What has to be contemplated now is what should have been implemented a year ago, but it’s not too late.

ADVICE FOR PRIME MINISTER SIMPSON-MILLER

Prime Minister Simpson-Miller still has an opportunity of being a Prime Minister that changed the fortunes of this country or one who simply let it slide. The risks are enormous but the possibilities are real and the alternatives are bizarre. If Uganda, Ethiopia just to name 2 countries can recover from their wars and famine; If Guyana once the rump of the English Speaking Caribbean can become the fastest growing economy in CARICOM, the fastest growing economy in CARICOM, Jamaica can make it if we try, if we do what needs to be done.

I am empathise with the government, I have been there, I know the hard choices that confront it. I empathise with the Prime Minister in particular because after all the papers have been read, after the meetings are over, after the numbers crunchers have turned in their numbers, after the Advisors have tendered their advice, which are, which is sometimes confusing and conflicting. After all of that, she has the lonely job of providing the leadership and direction to navigate our way through these turbulent waters. It is with her that the buck stops. She has to hold the hand of the Finance Minister who has stewardship of the economic program, she has to shield him from the naysayers and the faint hearted even within her Cabinet and even within her Party, because no Finance Minister especially in these tough times, no Finance Minister can succeed without the unqualified support and confidence of the Prime Minister.

The Opposition will be breathing down her neck that’s what Oppositions are for. She breathed down my neck.

Some of her own will say to her, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, is better we don’t; I say to her don’t listen to them. Her adoring supporters will say, but you say you love the poor, I say to her turn on your charm nobody does it better than you. Because if we don’t get it right, they themselves will become only poorer. It is indeed crunch time and I suggest that there is a compelling need for us to crunch the time and crunch whatever else needs to be crunched to give ourselves perhaps, the last chance. God Bless you.

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REFORM THE FUNDING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION – HOLNESS

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Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, is once again calling for fundamental changes in the way tertiary education in Jamaica is funded.
Mr. Holness first raised concerns in 2010, during his tenure as Minister or Education. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition again sought to bring attention to the need for comprehensive reform of how post-secondary schooling is funded.

He noted the fact that data revealed that the number of students meeting the requirements for tertiary education has doubled in recent years, increasing the demand for loans. “The challenge we now face with the Students Loan Bureau. It is not a problem…indeed it is a good thing…the problem that we face is that you have more students who matriculate in addition to those from previous periods who did not meet and have now met, trying to get into the university system. So, Mr. Speaker, this problem will not go away and we will not be able to –at will – continue to borrow as the need arises,” Mr. Holness warned.

Mr. Holness insists that the government cannot sustain the financing of this new and growing demand for loans. As such, he says the time has come for government to reform how higher education is funded. “Mr. Speaker, this problem will not go away and we will not be able to continue to borrow as the need arises. I heard the Minister of Education alluding to whether or not the current system of financing tertiary education is the best way, in terms of presenting block funding to the Universities…this is an argument we have carried before…as to how as a country we will have to sit down and redefine tertiary financing in Jamaica. The present Student Loan revolving system is one that cannot support the high level of new demands that are being made on it. I feel now that the government ought to come to this parliament with a clear policy direction as to how we will finance tertiary education in Jamaica.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness is also raising the importance of establishing a Credit Bureau as a possible remedy to improve compliance in relation to the repayment of loans. “Much was hinged on the establishment of a Credit Reporting Facility. [It was suggested] that that would, in some ways, help to lessen the risk of default, if the students were part of a credit bureau. I wanted to find out from the Minister of Finance where we are on that. But… have we developed within that credit reporting system, a sharing mechanism? For instance, are we able to share with the United States or Canada or the United Kingdom so that if the student beneficiaries migrate from Jamaica, their credit rating would follow them to the jurisdiction they are now in? I believe that, if that were to be done, it would seriously improve compliance,” Mr. Holness asked.

Mr. Holness was making his contribution to the debate on the state of the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB).

 

PLEASE DOWNLOAD CLIPS BELOW:

Holness on tertiary funding: https://www.box.com/s/rknnr6navqbqt3lw7it3

Holness on Credit Bureau: https://www.box.com/s/e7u75sodkhpv2xvj9z0v

Increase in persons seeking tertiary education: https://www.box.com/s/ne48gywyrvrhdz8ljcv7

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DETAILS ON NEW CUBAN LIGHT BULB PROJECT NEEDED MR. PAULWELL

GREGORY-MAIR

Opposition Spokesman for Industry, Commerce and Energy, Mr. Gregory Mair is today calling on Minister of Energy, Mr. Phillip Paulwell to present in Parliament on Tuesday details of his recently announced planned reintroduction of the very controversial Cuban Light Bulb Project.

Mr. Mair said that the details are needed in light of the fact that the project, under the watch of Mr. Paulwell when he was then Minister of Energy in the years 2006 and 2007, was plagued by corruption and gross mismanagement. This led to corruption, fraud and money laundering charges being laid on Mr. Paulwell’s Deputy, State Minister Mr. Kern Spencer of which incredibly, is still before the courts.

Mr. Mair also reminded Mr. Paulwell of the damning Auditor General’s report into the matter tabled in January 2008 which highlighted no written contracts presented for payments amounting to more than $276 million, of which $114 million was paid, a shortage of over 167,000 bulbs costing more than $90 million, an apparent overpayment of over $2 million for management and professional fees, and  wide-scale breaches of Government’s procurement rules among a broad range of improper and corrupt actions.

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BEST COUNTRIES TO EMIGRATE TO AS A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL

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DUBAI

“The most attractive countries for skilled migrants are Australia, USA, Dubai, Italy and England”

Australia, USA and England are the most attractive countries for skilled migrants whose migration to these countries is known as “Brain Drain” and it has become massive since the year 2000 by the lack of opportunities in their countries of origin for professional growth and the desire of these young professionals to study master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral studies.

The developed countries in the world have become recruiters of young qualified professionals who are discouraged by the lack of support they receive from their country of origin and, also, from the lack of opportunities and options they have, which is why they decide to migrate in order to be able to improve their economic status, live in better conditions and make possible the dream of having a better career prospect.

The most attractive countries for skilled migrants are Australia, USA, Dubai, Italy and England, who provide opportunities through work visas, scholarships for masters, doctoral and postdoctoral studies, as well as career options which, in most cases are accepted because they “do not have another choice”. The most profitable sectors for these skilled migrants are the health, production and computer areas.

This migration is now recognized worldwide by several specialists as “Brain Drain” and becomes a real curse that threatens the future of the country of origin of these lost talents, because its few resources devoted to education are usufruct by developed countries that, in the absence of skilled workers, decide to provide opportunities and not just for young professionals but even young people who, in the search of university studies, decide to migrate and, upon their graduation, they usually choose to stay in the country that once hosted them, for the professional and economic growth, which is unreachable in their country of origin (research laboratories equipped with advanced technology).

Unlike other countries, Australia has a clear policy of attracting skilled migrants and this provides extra incentives for those who, having high professional qualifications, could apply for a resident visa for inhabited areas, or for those under the age of 45 years and with the respective professional qualifications, to apply for permanent residence visas. The most needed professions in Australia are found within the SOL list and the professions in greatest demand are on the MODL list (Dentists, Nurses, Doctors, Engineers, Accountants and Architects).

Australia manages various categories of skilled emigration whose details are available for you to review them on the website of Australian Government property http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/. Additional information is available on the website of the Australian Embassy in your country. Remember that the proceedings have to be made directly to the Immigration Department offices in the city of Adelaide in Australia itself.

The United States is another destination country for skilled emigration and it has the H – 1B visa addressed to skilled migrants and it has duration from 3 years and a maximum of 6 years. With this visa professionals can study, live and work in the United States of America. But the U.S. is a destination also reached through scholarships provided by various foundations.

In the last years, this brain drain is occurring also in highly developed countries like Spain, which, having a high rate of unemployment, lower wages than most other developed countries and an economy with still great low-tech sectors, it offers opportunities to young professionals who are also forced to emigrate to the U.S.

http://www.todaytip.net/best-countries-to-emigrate-as-qualified-professional/

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TOURISM IN MAJOR DECLINE! CONCERNS ABOUT CRISIS

ed bartlett1Opposition Spokesperson for Tourism and Travel Service Development and former Tourism Minister, Mr. Edmund Bartlett said that the tourism sector is recording for the first time in many years declining tourist stopover arrival numbers, with five consecutive months of decline since October last year. Mr. Bartlett said the situation is now bordering on a major crisis as the winter tourist season is traditionally the best season of all and registers the most tourist arrivals for the country.

He said that the Minister of Tourism Dr. Wykeham McNeill and State Minister Damion Crawford have failed miserably at maintaining the strong growth numbers left to them by the previous JLP government, which was particularly remarkable given the terrible impact of the global economic crisis that began in 2008. Even in those rough times worldwide Mr. Bartlett said, we worked hard at ensuring that we were in growth mode.

Mr. Bartlett said the situation in the sector has gotten so bad that several hotels are rotating staff, which is highly unusual for the winter tourist season. The falling numbers has also negatively affected inflows in foreign exchange, with the US dollar now going for over J$97 to US$1. Tax inflows and Tourism Enhancement Fund fees are also badly affected.

Mr. Bartlett said the declining numbers since October are on average two per cent per month with January’s fall off running at a whopping 4.7 per cent. He also noted that the primary tourist markets for Jamaica – The United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom which account for 90 per cent of the traffic are all registering declining numbers, with the usually robust Canadian market registering a crisis like 15 per cent decline in January alone. The United Kingdom market on the other hand registered a 17 per cent decline last year and a whopping 12 per cent fall off for January this year. This Mr. Bartlett said only goes to highlight the government’s failure at properly positioning Jamaica in the market during the mega popular London 2012 Olympic Games last summer where the government spent £1 million or J$140 million on promotional activities.

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