Monthly Archives: May 2013

JA’S TOURISM MINISTERS SLEEPING OR PARTYING ON THE JOB? RITZ SAGA GROWS

ed bartlett1

“Tourism Minister is at this late stage, seeking to have talks with Playa in a bid to ascertain whether or not they will in fact be purchasing Rose Hall Resorts’ Ritz-Carlton Hotel.”

 

Opposition Spokesman on Tourism & Travel Services, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is today expressing shock and disbelief at news that Tourism Minister, Dr. Wykeham McNeil, is at this late stage, seeking to have talks with Playa in a bid to ascertain whether or not they will in fact be purchasing Rose Hall Resorts’ Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Mr. Bartlett argued that it has been well over a week since the initial announcement of the Ritz’s imminent closure and the impending sale.  It is most disturbing he outlined, that the Minister, who should have been proactive and on the ball from the very outset, is only now moving to confirm whether or not the sale of the Ritz to Playa is on.

“This development speaks voluminously to the extent to which the Minister has fallen asleep on the job and is completely out of touch with developments which have far-reaching implications for the tourism sector” Said Bartlett.

“What is even more disturbing is that the Government itself is a 15% shareholder in the property, and for the Minister to signal his intention to ascertain the facts by way of statements in the press this late in the day, it is clear to us that what we are witnessing are degrees of lacklustre leadership and tardiness of immense proportions.

The Opposition Spokesman went on to point out that the plight of the over 400 workers is foremost in his considerations at this time, and argued that the Minister has up to now, said nothing regarding the fate of these workers who, as it stands, are set to be separated from their jobs.

In closing, Mr. Bartlett said: “The minister’s stewardship leaves much to be desired, and as it stands, we have little doubt as to why the tourism sector under his watch is in the undesirable state it is in; with key performance indicators such as arrivals and earnings this past winter-tourist season trending in the wrong direction.”

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WANTED: FULL DISCLOSURE IN RITZ CARLTON AFFAIR

ed bartlett1

Opposition Spokesman on Tourism & Travel Services Development, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is today raising fresh concerns regarding the impending closure and sale the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.

Argued Bartlett: “It is disturbing that since the announcement virtually a week ago, neither the current owners nor the purchasers have issued statements in relation to the proposed takeover.  And as a result, the public, which has a vested interest in the matter based on the government’s 15% stake in the entity, has had no clarification or official position from the players involved as to what exactly is happening.

“In the absence of any definitive word, the country is no closer to an understanding of:

a)  the nature of the arrangement between Rose Hall Resorts Ltd. and Playa;
b). the terms of the sales agreement;
c). the project’s prospects and future.”

Mr. Bartlett outlined that given heightened speculation as to whether the Ritz’s replacement will adopt the all-inclusive model or incorporate the European Plan (EP), managed by either a Playa affiliate or Hyatt, it is extremely important that full disclosure and clarity regarding this imminent development be forthcoming at this time.

“The all-inclusive model as per Playa and the European Plan as per Hyatt are two divergent operational approaches.  Those who are quick to welcome the proposed takeover would be cautioned to have a level of certainty in their own mind as to what exactly they are welcoming.”

The opposition spokesman went on to posit that the impending takeover goes to the heart of stability in the tourism sector, and argued that the current hush of silence will do nothing to temper widespread anxiety, allay workers’ concerns, or send appropriate signals to the investor community and the travel market as a whole.

“The tax-paying public must be able to discern what the Hotel’s future will be, glean meaningful information as to how the government’s 15% stake is to be disposed of, and must be made aware of. how the over 400 men and women currently in the Hotel’s employ will fare in all of this”, he opined.

Mr. Bartlett, who serves as Member of Parliament for the area where the Ritz Carlton Hotel is situated, indicates that in light of his obligations and vested interest as MP, he is not just compelled but duty-bound to have the issues raised, properly ventilated and adequately addressed.  He stated in closing, that the interests of the workers, many of whom reside in his East Central St. James constituency, as well as the implications of the Ritz’s closure/takeover for Montego Bay’s Elegant Corridor, must be upper-most in the minds of well-thinking Jamaicans at this time.

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JAMAICA – THE ANIMAL FARM – Gleaner Letter

animal-farm1“the brother of the honourable prime minister (PM) was robbed and assaulted at his business place in downtown Kingston. Immediately, over 60 men were rounded up from various communities across Kingston.”

THE NOVEL Animal Farm addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways self-serving, wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed, and myopia corrupt the revolution. In the novel, one of the original commandments was: All animals are created equal. But, upon gaining leadership, the leaders eventually replaced these with the maxim, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

On or about March 31, 2013, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting and his companions were robbed of very valuable items. Within three days, the robber was found, items recovered, and accused burglar brought before the courts.

On Thursday, May 2, the brother of the honourable prime minister (PM) was robbed and assaulted at his business place in downtown Kingston. Immediately, over 60 men were rounded up from various communities across Kingston. And, on Monday, May 6, it was reported that a suspect was in custody and will be charged for the assault of the PM’s brother.

My sister was brutally murdered on February 17, 2012. The police, with all their efforts and resources, are yet to get a single breakthrough in this killing. But why am I complaining when there are countless family members who are yet to get closure for their loved ones. It’s not yet three years.

This island of 2.7 million people has recorded in excess of 1,000 murders annually over the last decade, yet, the prime minister’s brother’s attacker was found within three days. Bunting’s robber found and charged within three days. The killers of my sister and countless others are still not known years after, but I continue to pay my taxes. I am left with the belief that Jamaica is the modern-day Animal Farm!

I am truly sorry I am not a member of parliament, as my sister’s killer would’ve been found within three days and brought to justice.

C.E. SENIOR

frenne17@hotmail.com

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130509/letters/letters1.html

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RITZ CARLTON RUNS FROM JAMAICA, TOURISM IN DECLINE

ed bartlett1Opposition Spokesman on Tourism & Travel Services Development, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is today expressing regret at news of the imminent closure and loss of over 400 jobs at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.

Mr. Bartlett described the impending closure as a body blow to Jamaica’s tourism sector, as the Ritz Carlton remained the only internationally acclaimed high-end brand on the island. The implications for our appeal as a destination to the high-yielding demographics in the marketplace is of tremendous concern, as we are yet to determine whether the entity that will replace the Ritz will fit the profile and be of equal stature.

Mr. Bartlett, who is Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, where the property is situated, went on to question the fate of the over 400 workers employed to the Hotel. The Opposition Spokesman is calling on the Government, who are part owners in the entity, to clarify the situation and indicate what protection is being given to the workers, many of whom have spent all their adult life in the employ of the Ritz.

The departure of the Ritz Carlton, Mr. Bartlett lamented, coupled with the failure of the Palmyra development is a double whammy for the prospects of the Elegant Corridor fulfilling its promise of being the high-end destination of Jamaica.

“It is imperative that the Minister of tourism moves quickly to dispel the pale of doubt hovering over destination Jamaica at this time, following a disturbing 5% decline in both earnings and arrivals in the just concluded winter-tourist season, the withdrawal of one of the pioneers of the all-inclusive model and a highly respected hotelier in the global marketplace, as well as Jamaica’s apparent inability to attract investments at the higher-end of the market”, Mr. Bartlett outlined. Nothing short of a clear and convincing strategy to reposition the industry and restore full confidence across the sector and throughout the marketplace is required at this time, he added.

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SCANDALS IN JAMDOWN

20130417bIt came as no surprise at how fast the PNP circled the wagons and moved decisively at defending Government Minister and MP Richard Azan through stall tactics and the vocal rebuke and curtailing of movements at Parliament for a few Journalists chomping at the bits for more information on the Spalding Market scandal engulfing him. Lest we forget we are dealing with a Party that is washed in corruption and a strong track record of not doing much to restrict it.

For this government, the Party comes first not the people. In the eighteen and half year reign by the PNP from 1989 to 2007, corruption scandals were so much the norm that many of us are struggling to differentiate right from wrong. It is not uncommon to see people of whatever political persuasion openly defending the most flagrant acts of corruption by political leaders, as far as they are concerned, “the boss a look out fi we”. Like I said before Jamaicans are not too unsettled by bad governance as long as they see some benefit from it no matter how terribly short-sighted and pitiful it is.

Despite its long-running record of scandals the PNP won general elections back to back from 1989 to 2002 until only being marginally defeated in 2007. The scandals of that time are many and include the Rollins land deal, 1989; the Zinc scandal, 1990; the furniture scandal, 1991; the Shell Waiver scandal, 1991; the motor vehicle importation scandal, 1992; the foreign-exchange scandal, 1993; the land distribution scandal at Holland, 1994; the sand mining scandal, 1994; the Water Commission scandal, 1994-1995; Operation Pride, 1995-1997; the Montego Bay street people scandal, 1999; the Fat Cats Salary scandal, 1999; the Net-Serv Jamaica scandal, 2001; the NSWMA scandal, 2004; the Sandals Whitehouse scandal, 2005; the Trafigura scandal, 2006 and the Cuban Light Bulb scandal, 2007 and the multi-year running FINSAC debacle. In total the Jamaican people have not only lost billions upon billions of dollars as a result of these and many other corruption scandals but it has also been robbed of its great potential for significant growth and development. How many of our leaders were held accountable despite the plethora of scandals? Hardly any.

The result now is that many of our people are stunted and condemned to a life of poverty and despair.

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WE NEED A LEADER LIKE THATCHER

thatcher1If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing. – Margaret Thatcher

One government not so long ago was marked by endless apologies, mea culpas, unending national broadcasts, non-stop media interviews, press conferences and press releases with an overarching level of Western style political correctness that judging from the turnout at the last general election, Jamaicans by and large simply have zero appreciation for. Since the voter determined termination of that administration’s reign the people have absorbed a leadership that does as it pleases with such an incredible display of ill-governance that people have all but decided to mind their own business and carry on with their own lives.

THE LADY’S NOT FOR TURNING

The recent passing of Margaret Thatcher who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain between 1979 and 1990 and held the record as the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century, has again brought to the fore the want by many for bold, strong, decisive and clear-minded leadership. Mrs. Thatcher nicknamed the “the Iron Lady” rescued Britain from accelerated decline and if the words of noted British Economist Roger Bootle writing in the Telegraph is to be believed, Thatcherism brought about a people, “more strongly motivated, competitive… and harder working. Companies were more efficient…, and the country was more open and self confident about its place in it.” Beyond that, Britain moved from having the highest unemployment rates in the developed world to one of the lowest, underwent transformation of its tax system with London becoming one of the world’s premier financial and global centers and Britain on a whole, enjoyed healthy growth. But probably more significantly is the Thatcher ideological footprint that has only illustrated to us what transformational leadership is really about and how it can change an entire society for the better. Mrs. Thatcher believed in something and set about to implement it even when pressured to change gear as her unpopularity went to record highs in British politics. As she has been quoted in response to criticisms of her tough and sometimes painful economic policies, “There is no alternative” and while speaking at her Conservative Party Conference in 1980, she said,  “To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only this to say, ‘You turn if you want; the lady’s not for turning.”

While she worked to maintain a healthy level of political pragmatism it did not get to the point where the interests of the betterment of Britain were compromised. Meanwhile, in Jamaica our political pragmatism set off a vicious cycle of economic stagnation, crime and debauchery in return for comfortable victories at the polls time and time again. Whether we like it or not Jamaicans are not too unsettled by bad governance as long as they see some benefit from it no matter how terribly short-sighted and pitiful it is.

LEADERSHIP

Leadership in short is the process of social influence whereby an individual can bring about the support of other individuals to achieve tasks or objectives. Here in Jamaica what is required is transformational leadership, one where typically a charismatic individual is able to inspire others to perform beyond their usual selves. A quick glance at academic literature on the subject points to a range of traits and skills embodied by successful leaders worldwide.

These include being adaptable to situations, alert to one’s social environment, ambitious and achievement oriented, assertive, cooperative, decisive, dependable, dominant (influence others), energetic, persistent, self-confident, tolerant of stress and willing to assume responsibility. Margaret Thatcher easily fulfils most of these traits.

On the side of skill sets, this includes being clever (intelligent), conceptually skilled, creative, diplomatic, fluent in speech, persuasive, socially-skilled, knowledgeable about group task and well organized. Again, Thatcher easily fulfils most of these qualities.

Importantly for me, a clear vision must form the foundation of transformational leadership; people must know where you are heading. Thatcher and thereby Thatcherism wins on this score. The same can be said for Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew who set out on an incredible journey to turn his then small, uncivil, futureless, fractious, communist ridden and problem plagued Multi-ethnic Island state into a now beaming, prosperous and awe-inspiring metropolis. He had a vision, assembled a competent team and set about to deliver on it.

CONSENSUS POLITICS

One area in which Margaret Thatcher deserves cautious commendation is her stance on consensus. In her book “The Downing Street Years 1979-1990” she boldly stated,

“Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?”

For some, that’s a controversial statement that must be taken into context. Nonetheless, after experiencing the failure of consensus politics whilst he served as Prime Minister, Bruce Golding appears to have come around to the Thatcher approach. Speaking last month at a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Dinner at the Jamaica Pegasus, he said,

“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.”

It was the drive for consensus that derailed the previous International Monetary Fund agreement. Public Sector wage demands were simply uneconomical and did not serve the broad interests of Jamaican society. Many times too our Politicians strive for consensus as a means of wanting people and varying interest groups, including the schizophrenic and exceedingly hypocritical media and civil society, to like them, much to disadvantage of the nation’s best interests. This want for people to like them is exactly the reason why Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller occupies that high office today. Her leadership is based on populism and in Jamaica’s case that means the undying love of the poor, who make up the majority.

In the end our representatives have become welfare leaders easily handing out the nation’s borrowed money and scarce revenues through all sorts of innovative and not so innovative schemes to impoverished and not so impoverished constituents who have suffered decades of economic stagnation and a psychological reprogramming to adore freeness and handouts.

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