Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Rainforest Seafoods to introduce lionfish fillet http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Rainforest-Seafoods-to-introduce-lionfish-fillet_82441 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com Brian Jardim, CEO of Rainforest Seafoods Ltd said the company is set to introduce a lower-priced fish fillet on the local market from a new product &mdash; lionfish.<br /> <br /> The company has, within the last week, launched an advertising campaign requesting delivery of unlimited amounts of the seafood from local fisher-folk.<br /> <br /> Jardim told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday, &ldquo;We will focus initially on marketing fillets and trimmed, pan-ready wholefish for the local market.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If the stocks are of sufficient supply, we will certainly explore export markets,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> Jardim said that he was uncertain as to the value of the market for the new protein offering. &ldquo;[It&rsquo;s] hard to predict at this stage because we are just starting to get the word out.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Further, he noted, lionfish stocks were reduced significantly due to a successful &lsquo;Eat Them To Beat Them&rsquo; campaign driven by Dr Dayne Buddo and the UWI marine lab a few years ago. Buddo is an advisor to the fisheries sector.<br /> <br /> Revenue projections from lionfish are uncertain, the head of Rainforest said, based on the newness of the initiative.<br /> <br /> He said further that margins on lionfish, compared to others processed by the company, are expected to be much less.<br /> <br /> Jardim explained,&rdquo;our focus is not to make high margins, but to create markets and sell product. By selling more product, we will be providing our fishermen with another revenue stream and that is our main goal&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> Target volumes, he said, will be influenced by the needs of the hotels on the north coast as well as the general market.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Once we get the product into supermarkets and fellow Jamaicans try it, I&rsquo;m sure volumes will increase. The meat is white, fleshy and delicious! Very similar to top-quality grouper fillet,&rdquo; Jardim said.<br /> <br /> Jardim noted that Dr Buddo is currently promoting another initiative to train and assist Portland fishers to harvest offshore pelagic (open sea) fish such as mahi mahi, kingfish and tuna.<br /> <br /> The effort, he pointed out, will provide additional revenue streams for fishers while reducing the pressure on depleted snapper and parrot fish stocks found near-shore. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476444/244906_71354_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476446/244905_71355_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476443/244909_71356_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Soldier&rsquo;s missing money gets attention from Sagicor http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Soldier-s-missing-money-gets-attention-from-Sagicor_82431 with Claudienne Edwards Dear Claudienne,<br /> <br /> I am writing on behalf of my son who is a soldier.<br /> <br /> On August 31, 2016, he went to the ATM to withdraw funds from his Sagicor bank account and realised that all the money in the account was gone. He had been on assignment in the country so when he returned to Kingston he made a report to the Sagicor Bank branch at Up Park Camp that the funds in his account had been withdrawn by someone other than himself. <br /> <br /> The bank gave him a printout of the transactions that were made from his account. On August 28, two withdrawals were made on the same day at the Scotiabank Premier ATM at 1:34 pm and 1:35 pm. A third withdrawal was also made that same day at 3:05 pm at a Hughenden liquor store off Molynes Road.<br /> <br /> In total they took $99,000. <br /> <br /> When the bank gave him the printout they told him to make a report to the police. He made a report at the Cross Roads Police Station the same day and took to the bank the receipt he received from the police showing that he had made the report. <br /> <br /> Up until today (November 7, 2016), over three months after he reported the theft to the bank, my son has not got back his money. Every time he goes to the bank they keep telling him that they are investigating. <br /> <br /> My son wants back his money. He cannot afford to let so much money go down the drain. He is not rich and even a rich person would want back their money. I&rsquo;ve seen the same thing happen at other institutions and people whom I know this has happened to had their funds refunded in a shorter time than it is taking my son to get redress. <br /> <br /> I think because my son is young and has behaved in a dignified manner they are taking advantage of the situation. <br /> <br /> This is a very bad experience for him because he started working only about six months ago and for this to have happened is so frustrating. <br /> <br /> I would appreciate any assistance you can give my son.<br /> <br /> BL<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Dear BL<br /> <br /> When<br /> <br /> Tell Claudienne contacted Sagicor Bank on November 15, we were told that their security team had been in communication with Scotiabank &ldquo;in the last two weeks&rdquo; but had not yet been provided with the security footage to enable them to see who made withdrawals from your son&rsquo;s account.<br /> <br /> We have also been in communication with your son and note that Sagicor has now refunded him the $99,000 that was taken from his account by unknown people. Your son told us that when Sagicor Bank&rsquo;s security team showed him the footage, the male in the picture was unknown to him.<br /> <br /> Tell Claudienne received the following e-mail from Sagicor:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Thank you for contacting us in relation to a matter affecting our client. We have completed the investigations and have had dialogue with the client. The matter you queried has been brought to a satisfactory resolution.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> All the best.<br /> <br /> Have a with a problem with a store, utility company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com. Please include a contact phone number.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476383/244926_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Fix farm roads to increase production &mdash; Grant http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Fix-farm-roads-to-increase-production---Grant_82416 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Norman Grant is calling on the Government to allocate an additional $300 million for the repair of farm roads in the upcoming fiscal budget. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We still maintain that there needs to be more support as it relates to the repairing of our rural farm road network. I would like to see established by the Ministry of Agriculture for this upcoming fiscal budget about $500 million to repair farm roads, moving it from $200 million it was last year,&rdquo; Grant told the Jamaica Observer during the 13th anniversary of the Eat Jamaican Day exposition on the lawns of Devon House in St Andrew. <br /> <br /> He added that over the next three years he hopes that this will be further improved to $1 billion, as the sector continues to see a strong correlation between good road conditions and increased production.<br /> <br /> Output of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry increased to 28 per cent for the third quarter of the fiscal year, the highest level Jamaica has seen since 1998, according to statistics recently released by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). The growth in output for this industry was also the main contributor for a nine-year-high growth in the country&rsquo;s gross domestic product to an estimated 2.2 per cent now, following six quarters of positive growth.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Whenever you have good roads, production increases because farmers in the rural areas have access to the farm. So idle lands come into production and they can now have access from the farms to the market. What I&rsquo;m saying to the Government is that if we want to achieve the five per cent growth in four years, the agriculture sector is the bedrock for that growth,&rdquo; Grant told<br /> <br /> Sunday Finance. <br /> <br /> The former senator was quick to add that he is in full support of Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda&rsquo;s call for a four per cent interest rate on loans to the agricultural sector. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I would like to see, as done in the tourism sector, where there is a line of credit of $500 million for small tourist players at five per cent over a period of seven years, a similar facility implemented for the agriculture sector.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Put in a pool of funds up $750 million in the first year to grow and to expand the sector,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> On November 25, 2003 the Jamaica Agricultural Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries launched the Eat Jamaican campaign under the theme &lsquo;grow what we eat and eat what we grow&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> The main objective of the campaign is to drive a strategy of food security to look at reducing our imports of food and to increase the quantity and quality of our local food. <br /> <br /> Grant reasoned that the initiative has been successful thus far and has played a significant role in the country&rsquo;s passing of 14 performance assessments under the International Monetary Fund. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476382/244222_71361_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM A &lsquo;Chupse&rsquo; of LOVE AND AFFECTION http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/A--Chupse--of-LOVE-AND-AFFECTION_82406 There was no need to ask Chupse twice if it would again participate in this year&rsquo;s staging of &lsquo;A Jamaican Made Christmas&rsquo;. After all, the company that uses coffee beans to produce lanyards, key rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces saw the benefits of taking a booth at the expo last year.<br /> <br /> Essentially Chupse, which operates out of the Jamaica Association of Intellectual Disabilities, said it placed great value on the marketing exposure its employees received.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;My people are here with me and they are getting a full blown opportunity of social marketing, marketing on a business level and they will go back with this experience and they share it with all the other persons who did not come here,&rdquo; Chupse Production Supervisor Rasheda Tennant said in reference to the company&rsquo;s intellectually disabled employees.<br /> <br /> Chupse started in July 2011 with the idea of integrating intellectually disabled individuals into society by helping them to transition from special needs schools to the world of work, producing craft items for sale. <br /> <br /> The initiative provides an opportunity for them to contribute to the Jamaican society and to have sustainable livelihoods.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Instead of pumping students out of the institutions and then expecting them to go find jobs in a culture that doesn&rsquo;t readily accept or understand them, we decided to develop a company, or a brand rather around our persons with disabilities, hence Chupse began,&rdquo; Tennant said.<br /> <br /> Today, the company has eight employees &ndash; some afflicted with either Down Syndrome or autism. Its brand has grown and is now in stores in Japan and Canada.<br /> <br /> With every accessory made from the heart and perfectly handcrafted, Chupse says it gives its customers a story of love and affection in each item.<br /> <br /> The coffee beans the company uses are donated by the Jamaica UCC Blue Mountain Coffee Company Limited.<br /> <br /> Chupse was one 66 exhibitors at the expo staged by National Baking Company at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel last Sunday and Monday.<br /> <br /> The brainchild of Continental Baking Company Chairman and Managing Director Gary &ldquo;Butch&rdquo; Hendrickson, A Jamaican Made Christmas is aimed at assisting small- and medium-sized businesses to get exposure and increase sale for the Yuletide season.<br /> <br /> Hendrickson also wants the event to help small businesses get to the point of exporting their products to markets overseas.<br /> <br /> Tennant said that when she looked around the room at the Jamaica Pegasus and saw the magnitude of what National Baking Company was doing for small- and medium-sized businesses in Jamaica, she was overwhelmed.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In this room you have a wide array of different persons from all walks of life and different countries, so it makes you realise how much you can impact not only Jamaica but the global scale,&rdquo; Tennant said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really motivating when a big entity like National can take such a big risk, investing in entrepreneurs. It gives you the impetus to exceed expectations, because it makes you look wider than just Jamaica&hellip; you look at it on a global spectrum,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> Tennant admitted that a &ldquo;big deal&rdquo; for her is when she can point to a Chupse product and people appreciate it and are willing to invest in it.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;People will always like what you create. But when people in your own environment appreciate what you do, it adds a lot more value to it. They (National) are telling us that they not only believe in Brand Jamaica, they are willing to invest in Brand Jamaica and put everything behind Brand Jamaica,&rdquo; Tennant said.<br /> <br /> This year&rsquo;s exhibitors ranged from manufacturers of home and lifestyle products to producers of craft and food items, including snacks. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476181/244904_71360_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476182/244899_71358_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476183/244901_71359_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Ramocan to lead charge on UK diaspora investment http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Ramocan-to-lead-charge-on-UK-diaspora-investment_82012 &ldquo;The Jamaica Stock Exchange provides an ideal opportunity for members of the Jamaican Diaspora to help Jamaica while helping themselves. It&rsquo;s a win-win formula that makes so much sense,&rdquo; says George Ramocan, high commissioner-designate to the UK, as he met with senior officials at the Jamaica Stock Exchange yesterday.<br /> <br /> Ramocan, who has been making the rounds, as he prepares to depart for London where he will take up the post as Jamaica&rsquo;s Head of Mission to the United Kingdom and several other European countries, met with officials at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) at their Harbour Street offices in Kingston.<br /> <br /> Among the key issues explored was the need for a greater push for investment from members of the Jamaican Diaspora. Ramocan said he intends to make the case for greater levels of investment during his tenure, citing the fact that trading in local stocks and bonds represents the easiest and most direct way for members of the diaspora to invest in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> The former consul general said there are many individuals in the diaspora who are looking for viable investments to replace the low-interest rates they earn on their savings and pension scheme, and there could be no better opportunity than the JSE which was ranked as number 1 in the world in 2015. <br /> <br /> Encouraging members of the Jamaican Diaspora to become part-owners of Jamaican companies through the stock market is central to the national economic growth objective, he said.<br /> <br /> Deputy general manager at the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Robin Levy, said the JSE stands ready to work with the high commission to sensitise the diaspora and to take the lead role in guiding potential investors in how to engage with the market&rsquo;s online trading platform. <br /> <br /> He said: &ldquo;We are truly grateful that you have seen this as an area of priority need. We want to go further to encourage Jamaican and Caribbean businesses in the UK to become listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange as a way to raise capital to stabilise and grow their operations.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Ramocan will become Jamaica&rsquo;s 13th high commissioner to the United Kingdom, succeeding Ambassador Aloun N&rsquo;Dombet Assamba who completed her tour of duty earlier this year.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476472/244094_71353_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM A turning point for townhouses? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/A-turning-point-for-townhouses-_82429 Matthew Hogarth In my last article I referenced a real estate symposium held on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 which was hosted by the Realtors Association of Jamaica in partnership with Victoria Mutual, at which the keynote speaker was Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica. During his keynote speech, in addition to pronouncements on the Government&rsquo;s plans to introduce the required policies and framework required to enable a secondary mortgage market and reverse mortgages, the prime minister also stated that legislation was also being considered to specifically regulate townhouses and townhouse complexes. <br /> <br /> Having had personal experience living in and managing a townhouse complex, and dealing with the structure, or lack thereof, that plagues most townhouse complexes, in my view, legislation regulating townhouses and townhouse complexes should be a very welcome addition to the raft of legislation that regulates real estate in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> I have set out the typical ownership structure in a townhouse complex, using for illustrative purposes an example of a hypothetical townhouse complex that contains 10 townhouses:<br /> <br /> 1. There would be 10 individual Certificates of Title registered under the Registration of Titles Act, with each Certificate of Title representing one townhouse. It is important to make the point here that we are working within the regime of the Registration of Titles Act, which also regulates what most individuals refer to as &ldquo;stand-alone houses&rdquo; (that is, a single house built on a single plot of land and which is fenced accordingly). The distinction that is being made here is that we are not operating within the Registration (Strata Titles) Act or what we loosely refer to as &ldquo;a strata&rdquo; in this instance.<br /> <br /> 2. Each of the individual Certificates of Title would also contain in the description of the property represented by that Title a one-tenth interest in the common areas and common facilities of the townhouse complex.<br /> <br /> 3. What then obtains is a situation in which you have detached and/or semi-detached townhouses contained within one gated community in which the owner of each townhouse is pretty much free to do as they please, as would be the situation with a stand-alone house since both types of houses are regulated by the same legislative regime.<br /> <br /> In light of the aforementioned, one can easily imagine the many problems that may and do arise in the management of townhouse complexes.<br /> <br /> A few of the matters that I believe should be addressed in the proposed townhouse legislation are set out below, all of which have a bearing on the ability to maintain or even enhance the collective property values in townhouse complexes, and which are by no means exhaustive:<br /> <br /> a. The payment of maintenance. This is probably the greatest challenge in the management of a townhouse complex. There is a generally a phenomenal apathy toward the payment of maintenance, regardless of the owners possessing the financial means to be up-to-date with their maintenance payments. The simple truth is that it is difficult to enforce the payment of maintenance in the event that an owner fails to pay. The use of the facility of lodging caveats under the Registration of Titles Act is not sufficient and offers limited utility as it only has a bearing on the owner&rsquo;s dealings with their Title. <br /> <br /> There needs to be a robust regime that compels each owner to pay their maintenance and very stringent penalties for failure to pay for more than say three months. The severity of the penalties should escalate the more an owner&rsquo;s arrears of maintenance accrues and increases with the ultimate and last resort remedy being a power of sale to sell the owner&rsquo;s townhouse in order to recover the arrears.<br /> <br /> b. The exterior aesthetics of the townhouses. There should be one agreed upon and permitted roofing material used on all townhouses throughout the complex. There should also be either one exterior colour that the townhouses may be painted or a few agreed upon exterior colours that are permitted (which would be more appropriate in complexes that may have detached townhouses).<br /> <br /> c. The disposal of waste that is not the responsibility of municipal garbage collectors to remove.<br /> <br /> d. The ability to keep pets. If pets are allowed, the types of pets that may be kept. Insofar as dogs are concerned, there should be designated areas in which they may be walked and which may also be used as their bathroom.<br /> <br /> e. Hosting parties and events within the complex and the use of the common areas for parties and events.<br /> <br /> f. There should be a set of basic and fundamental security requirements for the complex.<br /> <br /> g. It should be mandatory to have a management executive for the complex constituted by at least a majority of the owners (and perhaps some outsourced managers) and for there to be regular meetings of the owners and management.<br /> <br /> IN OTHER WORDS, this column applauds the prime minister&rsquo;s and his Government&rsquo;s initiative which proposes to create a regulatory regime that is best suited for townhouses and townhouse complexes. Hopefully, the proposed legislation will define and delineate the rights of the owners of townhouses and also assist the individuals entrusted with the responsibility of the management of townhouse complexes in the execution of their duties.<br /> <br /> We eagerly await a draft of this legislation for review.<br /> <br /> Matthew Hogarth is the managing partner of MH&CO, Attorneys-at-Law, a corporate law firm. He may be contacted at: <br /> <br /> legal@mhcolegal.com<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476430/244907_71352_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Your financial problem is&hellip; you http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Your-financial-problem-is--you-_82407 With Dennise Williams Deep down you have an idea of what your financial problem is. And while the bank statement at the end of the month is the glaring example of the fact that not enough money is coming in, the real issue is, how are you going to solve it? <br /> <br /> To solve it you have to name it. <br /> <br /> So what&rsquo;s been standing in YOUR way? Do you have a lack of confidence and so don&rsquo;t search for another opportunity or ask for a raise? Lack of persistence and you can&rsquo;t stand to hear &ldquo;No&rdquo;? Inability to sell or influence others because you don&rsquo;t believe in what you are selling?<br /> <br /> No matter WHAT it is &mdash; no matter what problem you think is uniquely standing in your way &mdash; a good financial coach can help you make the changes you identify as the cause of your financial problems. So let&rsquo;s run down some common problems and how it is possible to get help.<br /> <br /> Your Problem <br /> <br /> Your Solution(s) <br /> <br /> &bull; Coaching will help you...<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t make enough money.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> * Get a good (or better) paying job<br /> <br /> * Get a raise at your current job<br /> <br /> * Get a 2nd job<br /> <br /> * Start your own business <br /> <br /> &bull; Eliminate hesitation at the root.<br /> <br /> &bull; Create automatic habits so that you take relentless action toward having the work that you want to do.<br /> <br /> &bull; Create rapport with your client, employer<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I spend more than I earn.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> * Spend less than you earn.<br /> <br /> * Accumulate enough money for your own future. <br /> <br /> &bull; Create an automatic impulse toward saving (rather than overspending), without hoarding.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I make bad financial decisions.&rdquo; or &ldquo;I make bad investments.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Fix your decision strategy so that you choose better from among available options. <br /> <br /> &bull; Create a new decision strategy in your mind, based on how expert financial decision-makers think<br /> <br /> &bull; Make this new decision-strategy as automatic as blinking your eyes or beating your heart (it happens before you &lsquo;think about&rsquo; doing it.)<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I sabotage my success.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Create better habits.<br /> <br /> &bull; See yourself through the eyes of someone who loves/cares about you<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know how to sell my services, my products or my ideas to other people&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Awaken other people&rsquo;s imaginations so that they FEEL good about hiring you or buying from you. <br /> <br /> &bull; Master language of influence<br /> <br /> &bull; Uncover what gets other people excited about working with/buying from you<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I feel hopeless/sad/anxious and it affects my performance and efficiency&rdquo; <br /> <br /> or &ldquo;I feel nervous/sad/guilty when it comes to selling/asking for money.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Transform your uncomfortable emotions into ones that FEEL better. <br /> <br /> &bull; Erase your anxiety at the deepest levels of mind & body<br /> <br /> &bull; Lose your addiction to worry.<br /> <br /> Now this is not an overnight process. It takes time to work through the issues that hold you back from solving your financial problems. However, that&rsquo;s the job of a coach &mdash; to work with you to overcome these mental barriers that prevent you from living the life you want. And so, as we always say in this column: Don&rsquo;t go it alone. Reach out and partner for better results.<br /> <br /> Dennise Williams, MBA (Banking & Finance) is a journalist, TV producer, certified practioner NLP coach and has 15 years experience in the financial services industry. You can see more of he<br /> <br /> r work at www.youtube.com/financiallyfocused.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476381/244868_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Regional procurement centre planned for UTech http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Regional-procurement-centre-planned-for-UTech_82226 BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com In a move to improve the stock of trained, accredited professionals to oversee procurement in the region, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is partnering with the World Bank to establish a regional procurement centre at the University of Technology, Jamaica.<br /> <br /> The establishment is expected to be up and running by the latter part of next year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So what we decided to do was to provide some seed money, if you will, [to] establish a regional centre that would provide training that was tailored for the region&rsquo;s needs on a sustainable basis and that would be accredited training,&ldquo; Douglas Fraser, head of procurement at the CDB, announced.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We see it providing a cadre of accredited professionals within the region, and we would hope that would be reflected [in the] actual procurement performance within the service.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He was speaking earlier this week at the opening of the three-day 12th Annual Inter-American Network on Government Procurement (INGP) Conference, which saw more than 300 participants from 32 countries across the region in attendance at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.<br /> <br /> Fraser argued that especially when a significant amount of gross domestic product moves through procurement, then trained personnel are required to serve in the process.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;When you have 15 to 20 per cent of GDP moving through procurement, it&rsquo;s really important, particularly in the area of scarce public resources, to have qualified people in that role,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, also speaking at the INGP yesterday, minister of state in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Fayval Williams, noted that the Government of Jamaica holds the largest purchasing power in the Jamaican economy, with the current procurement spend &ldquo;constituting a significant portion of the national GDP&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is an immense capacity to influence the desire of public development policies which have meaningful social, economic and environmental impact of citizens,&rdquo; Williams reasoned. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476473/244550_71363_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM With Castro gone, US presence in Cuba grows http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/With-Castro-gone--US-presence-in-Cuba-grows_82381 HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) &mdash; Fidel Castro spent his life combating US capitalism, but by the time he died American cruise ships, regular flights and even the embassy had returned to the communist-ruled island.<br /> <br /> The US flag now hangs ubiquitously on the bicycle rickshaws that pull growing numbers of American visitors around Old Havana, while artists sell posters of US President Barack Obama, highlighting Cubans&rsquo; hopes that the rapprochement will improve the island&rsquo;s anaemic economy.<br /> <br /> Obama and President Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother in 2006, have restored diplomatic relations and reopened embassies, while the US leader has eased trade and travel restrictions.<br /> <br /> Fidel Castro&rsquo;s animosity against the United States dates back decades to the US Government&rsquo;s support of dictator Fulgencio Batista.<br /> <br /> In the heat of his guerrilla war, Castro vowed in a 1958 letter that he would &ldquo;make the Americans pay a lot&rdquo; for backing Batista, whom he would topple in 1959.<br /> <br /> Castro was convinced that he would have to go to war against the United States. &ldquo;I have realised that this will be my true destiny,&rdquo; Castro said.<br /> <br /> As recently as his 90th birthday, on August 13, Castro recalled in an article the many &ldquo;Machiavellian&rdquo; attempts by the US Central Intelligence Agency to kill him. <br /> <br /> It took months for Fidel Castro to react publicly to his brother&rsquo;s 2014 decision to restore ties with the United States, and his response was tepid, noting the &ldquo;pertinent measures&rdquo; taken by Raul.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Everybody knows that Fidel was not very enthusiastic about the political changes undertaken by his brother. He was a bit uneasy,&rdquo; said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.<br /> <br /> After Obama&rsquo;s historic visit to the island in March &mdash; the first by a US president in 88 years &mdash; Castro wrote a scathing column, declaring that &ldquo;we don&rsquo;t need any gifts from the empire&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> US FIRMS, TOURISTS RETURN<br /> <br /> But like it or not, the empire is coming back to the island.<br /> <br /> While the decades-old US economic embargo remains in place, Obama has chipped away at many trade and travel restrictions.<br /> <br /> The first US cruise ship to come to Cuba in more than 50 years docked in Havana in May. Regular flights between the two countries have resumed. <br /> <br /> US companies like Airbnb and Netflix now operate in Cuba, and hotel group Starwood opened a Sheraton in Havana in June.<br /> <br /> While the embargo still forbids regular tourism, Obama has removed much of the bureaucracy required to visit the island under special categories ranging from cultural to religious and sports activities.<br /> <br /> Nearly 137,000 Americans came to Cuba in the first half of the year, an 80 per cent surge from the same period in 2015.<br /> <br /> While Obama has removed barriers, foreign companies still face hurdles to enter Cuba&rsquo;s Government-controlled economy.<br /> <br /> TRUMP DEMANDS BETTER DEAL<br /> <br /> Had Castro lived a bit longer, he would have faced a more hostile US president &mdash; the 12th since he took wer &mdash; and one who has threatened to &ldquo;terminate&rdquo; Obama&rsquo;s diplomatic thaw unless the communist regime makes a &ldquo;better deal&rdquo; for the Cuban people.<br /> <br /> President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office in January, called Fidel Castro a &ldquo;brutal dictator&rdquo; following his death.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The anti-Castro rhetoric of the president-elect could be an obstacle to the progress in relations between the two countries,&rdquo; said Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.<br /> <br /> Shifter said Trump&rsquo;s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is a &ldquo;heavy blow&rdquo; to backers of detente.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Even if Trump hasn&rsquo;t given a lot of details about the way that he will apply his policy toward Cuba, he is clear that he won&rsquo;t follow the Obama Administration&rsquo;s path,&rdquo; Shifter said. <br /> <br /> But to be sure about Trump&rsquo;s intentions, he said, &ldquo;We will have to wait for the first months of 2017.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476459/244877_71283_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476456/244878_71284_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Bond outlook post-election http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Bond-outlook-post-election_82402 With Lisa Minto-Powell US elections and the financial markets have been abuzz with activity over the last couple of weeks, with many keeping a close eye on all the recent developments. Sterling Asset Management Ltd hosted our last investor briefing on the 16th of November, which was well attended. <br /> <br /> The address by Ellis Phifer, managing director of Raymond James, was very insightful for me and for everyone in attendance. He spoke about volatility in the markets in the wake of the US elections, and the long-term expectations of bonds recovering, growth, the psychology of the market, and a stronger US dollar. <br /> <br /> In June of this year, the financial market was also volatile for a short while after the Brexit decision, but we saw a recovery and a return of confidence to the market in less than two weeks. We expect the same going into next year with a new US president from the Republican party with a new regime. <br /> <br /> So a word of caution to all is not to depend on luck for your decision-making or investment strategy, because in the long run it just never works out. <br /> <br /> We have seen movement in the prices of the global bonds and equities amidst much speculation on the impending increase in the Fed funds rate before the year ends, and of course the equity market moving with the feeling of nervousness. <br /> <br /> We are presently cautioning clients to wait a week or two before making any major purchases, whether it be bonds or equities, and not try to time the market. <br /> <br /> One thing that shouldn&rsquo;t have you anxious is your portfolio &mdash; just stay calm even amidst heightened emotions about it. So whether your favourite candidate won or not, once you are in for the long haul and remain consistent, you should see the benefits in your portfolio. <br /> <br /> In moving forward, we need to look at things we know based on the future outlook. <br /> <br /> Interest rates, for example, are still low. If the Federal Reserve raised rates in December, as we were placed on alert to expect, the yield curve would still remain very steep. This would result in very little change in the market, especially if we are looking at 25 basis points increase. <br /> <br /> If we are to look back at what history has taught us, there is a relationship between bond prices and interest rates, meaning when interest rates go up, bond prices go down, and when interest rates go down, bond prices go up.<br /> <br /> We have seen where high-quality bonds are correlated to the treasuries; when there is a treasury sell-off, the longer-dated bonds tend to take a hit. As the treasuries move up and down, so do the bond prices. <br /> <br /> The market overview is uncertain based on Trump&rsquo;s pro-growth plans which are predicted to affect inflation. Therefore, the bonds that have been affected since the election present opportunities in the future. The market overview is still uncertain with a possible pro-growth policy by Trump and the effect it will have on inflation. <br /> <br /> The surprise news of the Trump win may have caused short-term volatility in the stock market due to the initial shock. However, the market corrected itself, and this could be seen on the S& P 500, Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial. <br /> <br /> Again, the unanswered questions as to what this new Administration will bring make the stock market outlook somewhat uncertain, and we see this on a daily basis when contrasting viewpoints reached on the market. <br /> <br /> Some market analysts have advocated holding most of your funds in cash until the fear subsides and the unpredictability of the stock market has stopped. International stocks are not for the faint of heart, and it appears that the volatility will continue. <br /> <br /> So caution and patience will be the order of the day. <br /> <br /> Lisa Minto-Powell is the Manager, Financial Planning at Sterling Asset Management. Sterling provides financial advice and instruments in U.S. dollars and other hard currencies to the corporate, individual and institutional investor. Visit our website at www.sterling.com.jm Feedback: If you wish to have Sterling address your investment questions in upcoming articles, e-mail us at: info@sterlingasset.net.jm<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476418/244870_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Lagos poor left homeless by ruthless modernisation bid http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Lagos-poor-left-homeless-by-ruthless-modernisation-bid_82373 LAGOS, Nigeria (AFP) &mdash; Efforts by Lagos authorities to turn Nigeria&rsquo;s chaotic commercial capital into a modern megacity have run into controversy after the demolition of an impoverished waterfront neighbourhood left 30,000 people homeless. <br /> <br /> With swanky private estates and a glittering new city under construction on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean, housing for some of the 20 million people living in notoriously dysfunctional Lagos appears to be getting better. <br /> <br /> But as the city undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis, many are experiencing the brutal reality of rapid urbanisation. <br /> <br /> The latest casualty was Otodo Gbame, a poor fishing community close to the upmarket south-eastern district of Lekki, which was completely razed in early November as part of a growing drive to remove shanty towns. <br /> <br /> Between November 9 and 11, the district was set alight then bulldozed, reducing tens of thousands of homes to piles of smouldering wood and corrugated iron. <br /> <br /> At least three people died when armed police moved in with bulldozers, setting fire to the area and chasing some residents into the nearby lagoon, locals said. They say they were given no warning. <br /> <br /> Now homeless and with nowhere else to go, residents huddle together miserably under makeshift structures built out of rubble. <br /> <br /> Mostly from the ethnic Egun tribe, they trace their roots to Benin, but say they have been living in Lagos for over a century. But like the vast majority of the city&rsquo;s poor, they do not have title deeds to prove it. <br /> <br /> WE WILL FIGHT THIS<br /> <br /> They accuse the state authorities of conspiring with a prominent Lagos family to seize the land and sell it to the highest bidder. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;They are not happy that we the poor are living close to them. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Each time they look through the windows of their mansions and see us their anger rises,&rdquo; Toshun Pascal, a pastor in the community, told AFP. &ldquo;We are going to fight this injustice with the last drop of our blood.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Otodo Gbame used to lie between upscale neighbourhood Lekki Phase One and Elegushi housing estate, an exclusive area where residents drive Mercedes cars and Range Rovers. <br /> <br /> Pascal said more than 20 residents, including the community leader, had been detained for weeks &ldquo;for instigating the violence&rdquo;. But Lagos authorities dismissed accusations they ordered the demolitions, claiming a fight between the Egun and their Yoruba neighbours caused the fire which burnt down the community. <br /> <br /> They said police only arrived on the scene to restore order and ensure that &ldquo;the arson did not spread&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> DELIBERATELY TORCHED<br /> <br /> Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had in October hinted at a plan to demolish waterfront shanties in a move to rid the city of criminals who hide there. But Amnesty International warned that such a move would risk leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. <br /> <br /> And after the fires, the London-based watchdog said the community was &ldquo;deliberately set alight&rdquo;, demanding an independent inquiry into the &ldquo;forced evictions&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Lagos State Government is trying to evade its responsibilities to Otodo Gbame residents by denying involvement in the state&rsquo;s biggest forced evictions in recent times,&rdquo; Amnesty said, insisting that those responsible be prosecuted. <br /> <br /> Lagos has a history of demolishing entire neighbourhoods. In 1990, the authorities demolished Maroko, a shanty town in the well-heeled suburb of Victoria Island, forcing some 300,000 out of their homes. On the site where it once stood, there now stands a popular South African shopping mall with international chains that caters to the city&rsquo;s elite. <br /> <br /> HOUSING FOR THE POOR?<br /> <br /> Noah Shemede, director of a floating school in Makoko, another waterfront neighbourhood in Lagos, said residents are living in fear. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know when the caterpillars will roll in,&rdquo; Shemede told<br /> <br /> AFP. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s Otodo Gbame today; it can be Makoko tomorrow.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Government plans to build 1,000 new flats would not help those left homeless, Shemede said. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Where will a poor fisherman get 3.5 million naira (US$11,000 dollars) to buy a flat?&rdquo; he questioned, indicating that a fisherman&rsquo;s monthly wage is around 15,000 naira a month &mdash; the equivalent of US$47. <br /> <br /> Building experts say hundreds of thousands of people are in need of shelter in the city and are urging the Government to provide affordable housing for the poor. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;A housing scheme is meant to be a social contract between the Government and the people,&rdquo; said Adeniyi Adams, managing director of KnightStone Properties, a Lagos-based firm of estate developers. <br /> <br /> He said the Nigerian Government should provide funding for private developers to invest in lower-income housing so it isn&rsquo;t just the rich who prosper in the city. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s only then we can say Lagos is truly a megacity,&ldquo; local conservationist Michael Kobah said. <br /> <br /> Other world-class cities look out for all their citizens, he said. <br /> <br /> &rdquo;Lagos can&rsquo;t be an exception.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476458/244873_71289_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476457/244872_71291_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476455/244872_71291_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13476462/244871_71290_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM Maduro celebrates landmark OPEC agreement to cut oil production http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Maduro-celebrates-landmark-OPEC-agreement-to-cut-oil-production_82242 CARACAS, Venezuela (Xinhua) &mdash; Venezuela&rsquo;s President Nicolas Maduro hailed yesterday an agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce oil production for the first time in eight years.<br /> <br /> Maduro&rsquo;s reaction came after the OPEC oil cartel had made a decision on the same day in Vienna to set the ceiling of oil production at 32.5 million barrels per day.<br /> <br /> The reduction of 1.2 million barrels per day by January will seek to reduce the oversupply of oil.<br /> <br /> Maduro wrote on Twitter, &ldquo;I thank and appreciate our OPEC partners for the important agreement we have reached...to stabilise the market.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The impact on oil prices, which have been at consistent lows in recent years, was immediate. Benchmark oil prices jumped by 10 per cent and energy companies saw stocks soar as the group made its first cut since 2008.<br /> <br /> The deal will only last for the first half of 2017, but is boosted by the decision of non-OPEC producers to drop their production by 600,000 barrels per day.<br /> <br /> Maduro, who has seen the Venezuelan economy sink as oil prices steadily declined, has fought consistently to secure a production cut, including paying numerous visits to OPEC countries.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Two years of efforts to recover the market and achieve fair, realistic and stable prices. I also thank the non-OPEC countries,&rdquo; he noted.<br /> <br /> Venezuela&rsquo;s Minister of Oil and Mining Eulogio del Pinowas present at the OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, where the deal was struck.<br /> <br /> He wrote on Twitter that, &ldquo;We have sealed a historic OPEC agreement in line with a preliminary pact reached in Algeria.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473085/244465_70953_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Saturday, December 03, 2016 3:00 AM Blood, flies, agony: Inside Venezuela&rsquo;s hospital hell http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Blood--flies--agony--Inside-Venezuela-s-hospital-hell_82247 CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) &mdash; Plumber Freddy Herrera broke his leg in four places when he crashed his motorbike nine months ago. But his real troubles started when he got to hospital.<br /> <br /> The doctors fixed the leg. Then they had to operate 13 times more to cut out infections caught in the stinking hospital where he languishes.<br /> <br /> With open rubbish bins, flies in the corridors and rotting corpses stacked in the morgue, this public hospital in the Coche district of Caracas could be the set of a horror film.<br /> <br /> But it is all too real: the dirty, miserable human face of Venezuela&rsquo;s economic and political crisis.<br /> <br /> There aren&rsquo;t many doctors here &mdash; just 18 for a community of 150,000 people. Medics warn harmful bacteria has grown to resist the few antibiotics that are available.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m scared that after fighting this for so long, they will come and tell me they have to take off my leg because the bacteria have infected the bone,&rdquo; Herrera says. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to go up to the operating theatre anymore. Every time I do, I come back feeling worse.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> DYING IN AGONY<br /> <br /> Coche&rsquo;s is one of hundreds of Venezuelan hospitals that are overcrowded and desperately undersupplied.<br /> <br /> Traumatologist Efraim Vegas, 29, says he recently watched helplessly as a young man died writhing in agony from a gunshot wound to the knee.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I had no serum, no spare blood, no morphine,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We have had various people who have ended up having amputations because there isn&rsquo;t enough antiseptic in the operating theatres.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The hospital&rsquo;s emergency room only has five saline drips for use during the night. During that shift, up to 20 patients arrive.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I feel like my hands are tied,&rdquo; Vegas says. &ldquo;I cannot heal people. I just give them relief and help them as they die.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> ROTTING FLESH<br /> <br /> Venezuela&rsquo;s economy has crashed in line with the price of crude oil &mdash; the export on which the State relies.<br /> <br /> As its revenues have plunged, imports of medical supplies have dried up.<br /> <br /> In the Coche hospital, the oxygen tubes are washed and reused. So are the supposedly disposable electric scalpels. One of its three operating theatres is closed due to contamination.<br /> <br /> Drops of fresh blood spot the floor at the entrance to the hospital&rsquo;s morgue. It is made to house four corpses, but recently it has held up to 12 at a time.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Sometimes the bodies are in there for up to three days. It is terrible,&rdquo; says Vegas. &ldquo;It all smells of rotting flesh. This is like a hospital in wartime.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The hospital has no specialists in infectious diseases. <br /> <br /> Instead, the doctors identify infections by the smell of the wounds, says one of them, who asked not to be named. He says he helped save a man who had been shot in the head and left in the street. The wound was infested with worms when he arrived.<br /> <br /> FLIES BREEDING<br /> <br /> More than 80 per cent of Venezuela&rsquo;s hospital departments are lacking surgical supplies, according to the Venezuelan Health Observatory. More than 74 per cent of the departments are short of medicine. The observatory calculates that 100,000 hospital beds are needed, but only about 15,000 are functioning.<br /> <br /> The political Opposition blames socialist President Nicolas Maduro&rsquo;s economic management for the chaos. They accuse the Government of corruption and incompetence.<br /> <br /> Maduro insists the shortages are temporary. He has vowed to restart national production of medical supplies to replace the lost imports.<br /> <br /> The socialist Government says it has invested US$250 billion in healthc are over the past 13 years, particularly in poor areas.<br /> <br /> Some of the equipment bought with that money did get to Coche. But doctors here say much of it is useless now because of a lack of spare parts.<br /> <br /> Only one of the hospital&rsquo;s four elevators is working.<br /> <br /> The pit below the shaft is filled with stagnant water where flies breed, says the lift operator Rosa Herrera, 61.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In here we take up food, patients, the dead, people who have been shot,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Plus the rubbish and the human waste.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> US$60 SALARY<br /> <br /> Vegas earns the equivalent of about US$60 a month. He can only afford to eat twice a day and says he has lost 26 kilograms (57 pounds) in weight during the crisis.<br /> <br /> For their trouble, he and his colleagues face robberies and threats from patients and their families.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Being a doctor in Venezuela is an act of heroism,&rdquo; says the doctor who asked not to be named.<br /> <br /> The country&rsquo;s Medical Federation says 13,000 doctors have left the country since Maduro&rsquo;s predecessor Hugo Chavez, the father of Venezuela&rsquo;s &ldquo;socialist revolution&rdquo;, came to power in 1999. Now Vegas says he himself may follow.<br /> <br /> Freddy Herrera cannot go anywhere for now. He lies, swatting at the flies, hoping he will one day walk away. His wife used to come and see him, but her visits are fewer now. She has started treatment for cancer. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473056/244479_70974_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473055/244490_70977_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473058/244478_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473059/244487_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473060/244489_70976_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Saturday, December 03, 2016 3:00 AM Agriculture sector helping to boost economy and pass IMF tests http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Agriculture-sector-helping-to-boost-economy-and-pass-IMF-tests_81887 By KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Norman Grant says the Eat Jamaican campaign has played a significant role in the country&rsquo;s passing of 14 performance assessments under the International Monetary Fund (IMF).<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Eat Jamaican campaign has not only repositioned agriculture and rural development as the lifeblood of the economy, but it has led and helped Jamaica to pass 14 consecutive IMF tests,&rdquo; Grant said, while adding that over 250,000 local farmers and fisherfolk have also been instrumental in Jamaica meeting the quarterly benchmark under the IMF programme. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I say that against the background that, as a member of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, each time we meet I am asked what are the farmers doing? Because if we don&rsquo;t get agriculture going then we are going to have a challenge,&rdquo; Grant continued.<br /> <br /> He was speaking at the 13th anniversary of the Eat Jamaican Day exposition on the lawns of Devon House in St Andrew, on Friday.<br /> <br /> Recent statistics released by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) revealed that the output of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry increased to 28 per cent for the third quarter of the fiscal year, the highest level Jamaica has seen since 1998. According to the PIOJ, the growth in output for this industry was also the main contributor for a nine-year-high growth in the country&rsquo;s gross domestic product to an estimated 2.2 per cent now, following six quarters of positive growth.<br /> <br /> Under Jamaica&rsquo;s previous arrangement with the IMF, the country was required to exceed the primary balance and the Net International Reserves (NIR) targets, which, in part, measure the resilience of an economy to withstand currency depreciation and its ability to remain self-sufficient.<br /> <br /> The NIR reflects Jamaica&rsquo;s purchasing power over goods and services imported, thus a higher NIR indicates that the island can remain self-sufficient during periods of shock.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If we import too much, it compresses our NIR, and our NIR have been strong because we are importing less and exporting more,&rdquo; Grant told the Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Statistics show that our domestic export of crops has also increased last year, and the fact that we are also increasing production also stabilises prices &ndash; and when prices are stabilised, inflation is also stabilised.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So, I&rsquo;m saying that a big part of the Jamaican economy doing so well is because the agricultural sector has done well,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s food import bill continues its downward trend, with data indicating that there was a 0.7 per cent reduction, or by US$2.4 million, for the period January to May 2016.<br /> <br /> Traditional domestic food export for the January to May period in 2016 was US$13.2 million, an increase of 19.5 per cent when compared to the US$11.06 million in the similar period in 2015.<br /> <br /> Consequently, Grant noted that he is projecting growth of more than 25 per cent for the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry in thefourth quarter, led by output in excess of 600,000 metric tonnes for domestic crops. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473122/243797_71033_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Can 2016 top 2015? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Remembering-the-2015-equities-market_82281 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com The stock market in 2016 has subsided to a muted roar whencompared to the feverish increase in valuation seen in 2015. <br /> <br /> Since January 2016, the impressive price appreciation of a few stocks does not mask the fact that the stock market in 2016 is performing below last year.<br /> <br /> For 2015, all indices of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) increased dramatically, with the exception of the Cross Listed Index. <br /> <br /> Specifically, the JSE Main Market expanded by 97.4 per cent following a decline of 5.3 per cent recorded for the previous year, with stronger growth in the Junior Market.<br /> <br /> In 2015, equities offered an average return of 91.1 per cent, while the Jamaican dollar vis-a-vis the US dollar depreciated by 5.0 per cent. In addition, the average interest rate in the 30-day private money market was 6.3 per cent at the end of 2015.<br /> <br /> Up to September 2016, however, market activity showed slower growth for the year, with the value of transactions and volume of stocks traded for the JSE Main Market recording respective declines of 2.2 per cent and 13.6 per cent. <br /> <br /> The number of transactions for the year ended September 2016, however, increased to 10.9 per cent.<br /> <br /> Notably, the sharp increases in the JSE indices during 2015 were mainly reflected in the fourth quarter. For 2016, the jury is still out with the year having three months of data outstanding, but it is not expected that 2016 will match the bull run of last year when the performance of the JSE attracted the attention of the world.<br /> <br /> The difference was principally in increased investor appetite for equities in 2015, influenced by higher company profits by large corporates as well as announcements of planned mergers and acquisitions, as noted by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) in its 2015 annual report.<br /> <br /> In the final quarter 2015 the planned acquisition of Desnoes & Geddes Ltd by Heineken Sweden (AB) was announced, as was that of Dolphin Cove Jamaica Ltd by the Dolphin Discovery Group of Mexico, as well as the merger of Radio Jamaica Ltd and the media arm of Gleaner Jamaica Ltd.<br /> <br /> Late last year as well, changes in the minimum retail repo transaction size (investors with less than $1 million to spend) were shut out of this market; plus legal and regulatory enhancements for collective investment schemes also served to increase the attractiveness of equities. <br /> <br /> In 2015, the number of transactions and the value of stocks traded grew by 35.5 per cent and 59.7 per cent, relative to reductions of 12.1 per cent and 10.0 per cent, respectively, for the previous year. In contrast, the volume of stocks traded declined by 11.2 per cent following growth of 52.7 per cent for 2014.<br /> <br /> For all of last year&rsquo;s furore, up to September 2016 the equities market continued to demonstrate strong growth with all indices, with the exception of the Cross Listed Index, recording growth ranging between 70.8 per cent and 143.8 per cent. <br /> <br /> Volume trading this year is comparatively higher, influenced by stock splits among listed companies which almost entered the double digits. The smallest among them included GraceKennedy which did a two-for-one split, with the latest and the largest being Eppley which split by a factor of 150.<br /> <br /> In its quarterly monetary policy report for the September quarter, the BOJ notes that generally higher company profits reflected in consistent dividend payments also augured well for the performance of the equities market for the quarter. <br /> <br /> In addition, announcements of stock splits for companies listed on the Main and Junior markets also influenced the outturn for the review period. <br /> <br /> And, as happened in 2015, investments in equities continued to provide greater return relative to foreign currency and domestic money market investments.<br /> <br /> Equities offered a return of 65.1 per cent, while GOJ global bonds offered an average return of 5.6 per cent. In addition, the average interest rate in the 30-day private money market was 5.5 per cent up to September 30.<br /> <br /> TOP STOCKS TO SEPTEMBER 2016<br /> <br /> Advancing Per cent<br /> <br /> Manufacturing 99.3<br /> <br /> Caribbean Cement 275.6<br /> <br /> Berger Paints 139.1<br /> <br /> Jamaica Broilers 150.9<br /> <br /> Kingston Wharves 169.9<br /> <br /> Financial 68.1<br /> <br /> Barita Investments 90.9<br /> <br /> JSE 260.9<br /> <br /> JMMB Group 69.1<br /> <br /> Conglomerate 81.7<br /> <br /> Sagicor Group 81.7<br /> <br /> Other 184.5<br /> <br /> Palace Amusement 124.7<br /> <br /> Pulse Investments 875.0<br /> <br /> Source: Bank of Jamaica Quarterly Monetary Policy Report for September 2016.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13137249/214995_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Tastee targets customer comfort with store upgrades http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Tastee-targets-customer-comfort-with-store-upgrades_82280 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com Tastee Ltd indicated that at an ongoing upgrade of its New Kingston store will aid with logistics flow. The company is also considering the possibility of opening another Brew&rsquo;d Awakening cafe at the location.<br /> <br /> Currently shuttered for the overhaul, the store will be reopened on Monday, December 5, 2016.<br /> <br /> Group CEO Ryan Foster said the upgrade is costing in excess of $15 million.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The new design will aid with logistics flow so that we are better able to serve our customers. We are also exploring the option of opening another Brew&rsquo;d Awakenings,&rdquo; he told the Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> Brew&rsquo;d Awakenings is a new in-store cafe experience, the first of which was opened at Tastee&rsquo;s 130 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6 store in the second quarter of the year.<br /> <br /> The cafe &mdash; open seven days a week&mdash; offers continental breakfast combos, iced coffees, espressos, wraps, paninis, sub-sandwiches, and desserts.<br /> <br /> Foster told the Caribbean Business Report, &ldquo;We are proud to say we are the first patty company to have ventured into such a market and believe what better way to continue the celebration of our 50th year. <br /> <br /> He said the New Kingston renovations are &ldquo;in line with our mandate for 2016/2017 to improve upon the look and feel of all our stores islandwide and to make our customer experience more memorable.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> New Kingston, he said, will be the first of five stores that will be renovated during the course of the current financial year, which ends in May.<br /> <br /> Foster commented, &ldquo;Since Tastee was established in 1966, the Tastee brand has grown tremendously. We have expanded our menu variety, our business lines to include mobile trucks, school concessionaires, new export markets, and catering.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This move to renovate and upgrade is in line with one of our main strategic goals to provided world-class customer service and first-rate customer experience. Our Liguanea store was the start of the change in the look and feel of our stores.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In New Kingston, he said, the company is exploring the option of opening Brew&rsquo;d Awakenings, &ldquo;as the feedback and support for this new and innovative concept, has been tremendous&rdquo;. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473340/244556_71062_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM ATL introduces gift card for Yuletide season http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/ATL-introduces-gift-card-for-Yuletide-season_82320 As part of efforts to increase sales for the Yuletide season, local retailer Appliance Traders Ltd (ATL) has introduced a gift card programme which allows customers to provide monetary contribution towards the purchasing of products by family and friends. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s more flexible than a gift certificate, and we believe anyone who receives a gift card will appreciate the extra boost it will afford them to access hundreds of items. It&rsquo;s definitely the present to give this season as there is always a lot of &lsquo;home sprucing up&rsquo; during this time of year,&rdquo; stated ATL marketing&rsquo;s Kendra Johnson.<br /> <br /> The initiative will enable customers, family members and friends to purchase a variety of appliances and services across the company&rsquo;s home, commercial, energy solutions, service, and business divisions at its three locations. <br /> <br /> The ATL gift card is now available at ATL branches islandwide and requires a minimum of $3,000, which can be used to purchase items of equal or lesser value. Customers, however, have the option of topping up the card to an amount of their desire thereafter. <br /> <br /> The gift card, which lasts for up to one year, will be registered in the name of the person receiving it.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Once we have registered the card in the person&rsquo;s name, then that individual will be required to take along their government identification upon purchase of the goods,&rdquo; Johnson told the Jamaica Observer. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;This ensures that the person gifted with the card is in fact the person purchasing the items.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> As a part of the launch activity, the retailer will provide a few lucky customers with the new gift card valued up to $20,000.<br /> <br /> In early 2017, the retailer will roll out phase two of the programme, which will promote a card-reload feature whereby the cards can be topped up via credit or debit card.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473342/244602_71090_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Carreras welcomes new competition http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Carreras-welcomes-new-competition_82286 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com Distributor of cigarettes Carreras Limited is welcoming the recent influx of players on the local market with hopes that this might mop up the demand for illegally imported cigarettes. <br /> <br /> Already burnt by illegal imports, Carreras is now fighting for market share with at least three new entrants, as well as innovations by Marlboro Cigarettes. But managing director of the company, Marcus Steele, says this may plug the demand for cheaper cigarettes which has not only been costing the company, but has also accounted for the country losing $2 billion in revenue annually. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The legal market is selling less. If the competition is coming to help fight the illegal market then there is space. So to the extent that they can mop that up and convert that market to the legal brand, then it will increase the legal share of the market and we will be able to pick up more revenues,&rdquo; Steele told the Jamaica Observer in an interview on Wednesday. <br /> <br /> The company called a press briefing at its Ripon Road office in New Kingston where Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers disclosed that criminals have been dealing in the trade of illegally imported cigarettes, the proceeds of which are used to purchase guns and ammunitions. <br /> <br /> This year, a total of two new cigarette manufacturers &mdash; Nostic Agricultural & Manufacturing Ltd &mdash; and Hamburg International Ltd as well as new South Africa-based distributor Pacific Tobacco entered the local market. <br /> <br /> Up to 2010, Carreras, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco Company, was the exclusive local distributor of cigarette brands Dunhill, Matterhorn, Craven A and Rothmans, and controlled approximately 99 per cent of market share. Musson Jamaica, which distributes Marlboro and Green brands, accounted for the remaining one per cent.<br /> <br /> But Steele says market demand has changed for legal cigarettes, mainly due to the frequent and excessive excise increase by the Government on a stick of cigarette which opens the market to the illegal imports. <br /> <br /> He noted that the demand for cigarettes up to 10 years ago reached one billion sticks per year, but that has now declined to 50 per cent or less than 500 million. However, there has been an uptick in the demand for illegal cigarettes which is now being sold at $25 per stick, $20 less than the price of the legal operators. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;So if the illegal market demand is reduced, we only will be competing on who has the better brand, marketing strategy and so on,&rdquo; Steele told the Caribbean Business Report. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t mean that we will take our competition for granted, but I rather to have the legal competitions than the illegal ones, because they will pay the taxes, abide by the regulations and we will be able to price properly. So we welcome the competition,&rdquo; he continued. <br /> <br /> The company intends to continue working on its Craven A and Matterhorn portfolios to keep ahead of the competition. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473314/244391_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Brexit, Donald Trump and market volatility http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Brexit--Donald-Trump-and-market-volatility_82234 Alexander Schiff Inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, real world events and speculation. These are all factors that affect the movement of the stock market. 2016 has certainly been a notable year with regards to unexpected real-world events. <br /> <br /> Countless articles have been written explaining how markets are going to be adversely affected by Brexit and by Donald Trump&rsquo;s victory. However, in the same way that no one can time the market, no one can really accurately predict what will happen to the market as a result of certain events. <br /> <br /> In June 2015, 52 per cent of voters in the United Kingdom (UK) voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU), fulfilling what is now known as Brexit. This unexpected result led to a great deal of speculation as to the consequences of the UK leaving the EU and, perhaps most notably, led to a significant drop in the value of the pound. The pound dropped to its lowest value in 30 years. <br /> <br /> Major indices in the US dropped by approximately five per cent as a result of investors selling equities in exchange for safer securities. This drop was quickly reversed within a week. Within two weeks the S&P 500 had reached a record high. <br /> <br /> Similarly, Donald Trump&rsquo;s victory in the US presidential elections sent shockwaves around the world and throughout global stock markets. The US markets experienced a plunge in value during trading after hours before the verdict was announced. <br /> <br /> Fears of a Trump victory also echoed throughout foreign markets. Stocks on the London Stock Exchange dropped by two per cent, while the Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong) and the Nikkei Index (Japan) fell by 2.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively. Certain assets that have a tendency to do well in volatile times, such as gold, experienced an increase (roughly 3.2 per cent). Ironically, the Dow Jones Index, Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all ended on a high by the end of the day (2.81 per cent, 0.84 per cent and 1.16 per cent, respectively). <br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s look at what contributed to this market volatility as well as the heightened speculation from players in the industry. <br /> <br /> Firstly, what people thought was going to happen did not happen. Brexit and the Trump win came as a huge shock to the world because many thought those results would be impossible. This came with many questions to which no one really knew the answers. <br /> <br /> Currently, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty with respect to policy change with Donald Trump as president. Will he quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as he says he will? If he manages to, what will the impact be on stock markets around the world? <br /> <br /> Likewise, what does Brexit mean for the UK&rsquo;s trade partnerships with its European counterparts? Will London witness an exodus of players in the finance industry, and how will this affect the markets? <br /> <br /> All of these questions are very relevant and their answers are not easy to pinpoint. The effects of Brexit may take years to fully unfold, whereas Trump&rsquo;s policy changes may or may not materialise. <br /> <br /> Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that when the effects of Brexit and Trump&rsquo;s presidency come into being, they will be felt in stock exchanges around the world. It is therefore important to prepare one&rsquo;s investment portfolios accordingly. <br /> <br /> As history has proven, global events can have a huge impact on the stock market, whether it be short term, long term, positive, or negative. The bottom line is that, in the same way that no one can time the market, no one can predict what will happen. Markets have been and always will be volatile, and certain events will no doubt exacerbate these effects. <br /> <br /> Despite all the negative press concerning the consequences of Brexit and Trump&rsquo;s victory, the markets have continued to perform. On the 21st of November the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq closed at record highs, signalling that unexpected events (with subsequent high levels of volatility and speculation) perhaps do not weigh on the markets as heavily as one thinks. It may therefore be beneficial to focus on long-term trends in the market as opposed to short-term (whether it be three days, weeks or a few months) ones. <br /> <br /> Do not be too hasty in making on-the-spot decisions when markets are volatile. Historically, the stock market (based on the S&P 500) has appreciated roughly 10 per cent annually, despite the numerous market crashes that have occurred (1990-1991 recession, 2000 Dot Com Bubble, 2008/09 crash and 2010 flash crash).<br /> <br /> From an investment standpoint, it is important to examine and re-examine your portfolio&rsquo;s market positions on a regular basis and stay informed with respect to what is going on around the world. <br /> <br /> Consult your broker or investment house if you are receiving financial advice (which is always advised for individuals new to investing, or individuals who do not have time to focus on the market), and plan accordingly.<br /> <br /> Alexander Schiff, relationship manager Private Wealth Management &mdash; Client Relations, at Stocks and Securities Limited. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473136/244500_70980_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473135/244498_70981_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473134/244502_70983_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Emerging markets most vulnerable to Trump&rsquo;s election victory http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Emerging-markets-most-vulnerable-to-Trump-s-election-victory_82238 Simone Hudson-Bernard As the world continues to reflect on the results of the November 8th US presidential elections, Jamaica and other emerging market (EM) sovereigns are still trying to decipher what the next four or more years could look like for them. <br /> <br /> The concern arises from President-elect Trump&rsquo;s pre-election rhetoric which echoes protectionist policies similar to those of Brexit, and which could potentially lead to less open trade and immigration regimes. <br /> <br /> Should those policies be implemented, countries that are heavily dependent on the US for the export of their products and remittance inflows will be most at risk. These include Jamaica and a number of its EM counterparts &mdash; Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and the beating stick of the elections, Mexico. <br /> <br /> ANTI-TRADE/IMMIGRATION POLICIES COULD AFFECT EM ECONOMIES<br /> <br /> In arguing for protectionism, Trump asserts that decades of free trade policies are responsible for the collapse of the American manufacturing industry. He echoes the sentiments of Americans who feel that globalisation has brought more pain than gain; for example, by bringing cheap consumer goods into the country, costing domestic jobs and depressing wages. <br /> <br /> As such, he has pledged to renegotiate, or possibly dismantle, the North American Free Trade Agreement (a trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico which lowers trade barriers). There are also widespread concerns that Trump&rsquo;s promises to revoke the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only serve to reduce EM exports and adversely affect the economic potential of emerging markets. <br /> <br /> Another concern is the promised deportation of 11 million undocumented migrants &mdash; many of whom are responsible for remittance inflows to EM states. If implemented, this poses a major threat to one of the EM&rsquo;s main income earners. Anti-trade and immigration concerns are particularly sensitive at a time when a number of these economies are in a fragile state.<br /> <br /> CLOSENESS TO THE US AND INCREASED VULNERABILITY<br /> <br /> A study conducted by Standard & Poor&rsquo;s Financial Services (S&P), which looked at EM states&rsquo; economic exposure to the US as it relates to trade and remittances, revealed that the countries with the most at stake are located in the direct geographical vicinity of the US. <br /> <br /> Central America and the Caribbean have the most to lose, as exports to the US account for 11 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP) on average, relative to 4.4 per cent for Asia and 4.1 per cent for South America. <br /> <br /> At the same time, remittances from the US as a percentage of current account receipts are the highest in the region at 11.3 per cent, relative to 1.8 per cent in Asia and 1.0 per cent in South America.<br /> <br /> Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic are ranked as the 4th, 6th, 8th, and 9th EM states most at risk to US protectionism policy when one considers the combined exposure from exports and remittances to the US. Mexico and Trinidad will be mostly affected on the trade side, while Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have a larger exposure via remittances. <br /> <br /> In the aftermath of the US elections, the Mexican peso tanked as investors considered that exports to the US accounted for more than a quarter of its GDP, and economic challenges will increase if Trump maintains his stance. <br /> <br /> Trinidad, which has been rattled by low commodity prices and contracted by 5.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, is also very vulnerable on the trade side, with exports to the US accounting for 21.5 per cent of GDP. <br /> <br /> On the other hand, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, two of the bright sparks in the region, have remittances from the US amounting to 17.2 per cent and 23.6 per cent of current account receipts, respectively.<br /> <br /> Protectionism scored another unprecedented victory this year following the election of Donald Trump, whose pre-election theme sounded very similar to that of Brexit supporters. <br /> <br /> For the Caribbean, the timing of the Trump victory is not the best since a number of states would still be considering how to navigate their way through other headwinds, including lower commodity prices. This is especially true for Trinidad, which is being hampered by the &lsquo;lower for longer&rsquo; oil paradigm. <br /> <br /> Mexico, which was the most targeted nation during Trump&rsquo;s campaign, will need to seek to decrease its dependence on the US, just as, over time, it reduced its vulnerability to lower oil prices. This, however, will not happen any time soon, and so Mexico must hope that Trump will tone down when he gets into office. Otherwise, they will have to put emergency measures in place to buffer the expected economic fallout.<br /> <br /> Simone Hudson-Bernard is manager research and structured product, at NCB Capital Markets Ltd.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473125/244565_71035_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473126/244451_71034_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Moise says he&rsquo;s ready for tests facing Haiti http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Moise-says-he-s-ready-for-tests-facing-Haiti_82245 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) &mdash; The political newcomer chosen to lead deeply divided Haiti for the next five years says he&rsquo;s eager to improve the lives of desperately poor families in the long-neglected countryside and bring steady economic advances to one of the least developed nations in the world.<br /> <br /> Jovenel Moise, an upbeat entrepreneur, said reviving the economically blighted countryside, where almost 80 per cent of households farm, is one of his major goals. He described the rural poor as the backbone of his homeland&rsquo;s fragile economy.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really important to change the lifestyle of these people,&rdquo; Moise told<br /> <br /> The Associated Press in his first interview with an international news agency since officials issued preliminary results showing he won the November 20 election in a landslide.<br /> <br /> If the preliminary results withstand challenges by three of his closest rivals in coming weeks, Moise will have earned the presidency with 55 per cent of the votes in a field of 27 candidates.<br /> <br /> The result is supposed to be certified on December 29 after an electoral tribunal resolves the challenges.<br /> <br /> In the interview at a Petionville campaign office, Moise said his priorities focus on agriculture, education, energy reform, and foreign investment.<br /> <br /> He said he&rsquo;s looking forward to the challenge of building consensus and helping fix a political culture perpetually at war with itself.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am working hard to be close with the Parliament because there&rsquo;s no way a president can work without deputies, without senators,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Robert Fatton, a Haitian-born politics professor at the University of Virginia, said that Moise will find governing difficult &ldquo;if he is unwilling or unable to draw some key adversaries into his regime&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The next few weeks and months will be bumpy and will test Jovenel Moise&rsquo;s statecraft and capacity to move the country in a new and hopeful trajectory,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The still-preliminary November victory came more than a year after Moise topped an initial presidential vote that was eventually thrown out for alleged fraud, leading to a lengthy period of political limbo.<br /> <br /> A businessman from northern Haiti, Moise had never run for office until he was hand-picked to be the Tet Kale party candidate by outgoing President Michel Martelly.<br /> <br /> Some critics continue to view Moise&rsquo;s ascent with suspicion, suggesting Martelly is using the candidate as a proxy. Moise laughed off the criticism, saying it is mostly about the snobbery of political elites in the capital.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In Haiti, when you come from the countryside, the people here in Port-au-Prince, they think they know everything. But it&rsquo;s not true and I&rsquo;m the example. In the countryside you have good people also with knowledge, with vision, with capacity,&rdquo; Moise said.<br /> <br /> The slender 48-year-old father of three said Martelly would be an adviser when he becomes president, and he wants to study his predecessor&rsquo;s successes and mistakes. Other previous presidents also will serve as advisers, he said.<br /> <br /> During his campaign, Moise touted his business background in agriculture.<br /> <br /> In 2014, he launched the Agritrans banana-exporting joint venture with the government on about 2,470 acres (1,000 hectares) in northeast Haiti with a US$6-million loan approved by Martelly&rsquo;s Administration. He proudly refers to himself by his campaign moniker, &ldquo;Neg Bannan Nan&rdquo; or &ldquo;Banana Man&rdquo; in Haitian Creole.<br /> <br /> His first business venture was an auto parts company in Port-de-Paix, and he also distributed drinking water and created a project to bring renewable energy to several towns.<br /> <br /> Haiti&rsquo;s revamped Provisional Electoral Council has been trying to show that the November 20 election, organised with mostly Haitian resources, was clean in a country where accusations of vote rigging and election fraud have long been common and are sometimes accurate.<br /> <br /> But three of the council&rsquo;s nine members declined to sign the preliminary tally sheet, one of them telling local radio that he was &ldquo;uncomfortable&rdquo; with the results.<br /> <br /> A monitoring team from the Organization of American States said that its observations were in line with Haiti&rsquo;s preliminary tally.<br /> <br /> Moise said he was disappointed that voter turnout was a paltry 21 per cent.<br /> <br /> There&rsquo;s long been a deep sense of voter disenchantment in Haiti, and Moise said he believes more Haitians will vote in the next electoral cycle if politicians simply keep their promises and stop feuding.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s try to move forward, to move together to get a better country,&rdquo; he said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473072/244459_70951_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473073/244457_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473074/244461_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473077/244456_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Cuba-US relations at crossroads after Castro&rsquo;s death http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Cuba-US-relations-at-crossroads-after-Castro-s-death_82239 HAVANA, Cuba (Xinhua) &mdash; Cuba-US relations are at a crossroads as the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro may decelerate the normalisation of the ties and US President-elect Donald Trump&rsquo;s assuming power will bring uncertainties to the US policy on Cuba.<br /> <br /> Castro passed away last Friday in the Cuban capital of Havana at the age of 90.<br /> <br /> After writing blunt tweets about Castro&rsquo;s death Friday, Trump on Monday further threatened to end US President Barack Obama&rsquo;s deal with Cuba on<br /> <br /> Twitter, urging Cuba to &ldquo;make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban-American people, and the US as a whole&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Trump&rsquo;s statement, issued hours after Castro&rsquo;s death, was also filled with negative comments about the Cuban leader.<br /> <br /> Rafael Hernandez, Cuban political analyst and head of the Temas magazine, said Trump&rsquo;s statement was very inappropriate at this moment and cast a shadow on the future of the Cuba-US relations.<br /> <br /> NORMALISATION OF CUBA-US <br /> <br /> Analysts say that although Castro was not the direct promoter of the normalisation of the Cuba-US ties, his death could enhance his &ldquo;spiritual effect&rdquo; on Cuba, which could decelerate bilateral rapprochement.<br /> <br /> Lv Yang, a researcher with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Castro was always vigilant about the US &ldquo;Colour Revolution&rdquo; attempt to topple the Cuban Government.<br /> <br /> Even after ceding power to his brother Raul, Castro always published articles in<br /> <br /> Granma, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, to criticise US policy, Lv said.<br /> <br /> After Cuba and the United States re-established diplomatic relations in December 2014, Castro wrote articles to remind his party comrades of the US plot of peaceful evolution, he added.<br /> <br /> Havana lost reassurance after Castro passed away, Lv said, adding that Cuban policymakers, whether reformists in favour of Cuba-US rapprochement or conservatives against the detente, will become more prudent in dealing with US-related issues.<br /> <br /> The Cuban Government will also invest more energy to handle Castro&rsquo;s funeral affairs, the expert said.<br /> <br /> CHALLENGES<br /> <br /> Experts say that the normalisation of the Cuba-US ties is an irresistible trend, but faces challenges as Trump could change the US policy toward Latin American countries including Cuba, which would add uncertainties to the future of the Cuba-US ties.<br /> <br /> The Cuba-US relationship will be normalised in the end as Castro&rsquo;s death will not change too much Cuba&rsquo;s policy toward the United States, and it is unrealistic for Trump to reverse the Obama Administration&rsquo;s policy on Cuba, said Carlos Eduardo, a history professor at the University of Brasilia.<br /> <br /> Xu Shicheng, a researcher with the Institute of Latin American Studies under Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said both Cuba and the United States are at a period of transition, adding that Havana still hopes to promote bilateral rapprochement and the key lies in what moves Trump will make after he takes office.<br /> <br /> Xu said that the Cuba-US rapprochement is an irresistible trend and the possibility is small that Trump&rsquo;s assuming power will force the two countries to cut their ties.<br /> <br /> Even if Trump adopts more restrictive measures against Cuba, Havana has accumulated rich experience in dealing with Washington, Xu said.<br /> <br /> However, Trump&rsquo;s rhetoric has signalled that he would adopt repressive policies toward Cuba, and it is hard to resolve practical issues such as returning the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to Cuba and lifting the economic embargo on the Caribbean island nation, he said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473191/244462_70952_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Mexico&rsquo;s central bank chief resigns amid Trump turmoil http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Mexico-s-central-bank-chief-resigns-amid-Trump-turmoil_82250 MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) &mdash; Mexico&rsquo;s central bank chief Agustin Carstens resigned yesterday, officials said, sending the peso on its latest plunge since Donald Trump&rsquo;s victory in last month&rsquo;s US presidential election.<br /> <br /> Carstens, who had compared Trump with a maximum Category Five hurricane because of his tough stance toward Mexico, will step down on July 1 next year, the Banco de Mexico said in a statement.<br /> <br /> He will become director general of the Bank for International Settlements, the Switzerland-based bank for central banks.<br /> <br /> Analysts describe Carstens as a steady and experienced hand at the tiller amid a period of volatility for Latin America&rsquo;s second-largest economy.<br /> <br /> A former deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, he became central bank chief in 2010 after serving as finance minister from 2006 to 2009.<br /> <br /> The peso fell 1.19 per cent Thursday after the news, reaching 21.05 to the US dollar.<br /> <br /> Markets are nervous about the effect of Trump&rsquo;s protectionist policies, including his vows to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, make Mexico pay for the proposed border wall, and block remittances sent home by immigrants.<br /> <br /> Analysts say the peso is also affected by the prospect of an interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve later this month.<br /> <br /> The Mexican currency plunged after Trump&rsquo;s election on November 8.<br /> <br /> The central bank slashed the country&rsquo;s economic growth forecasts for 2016 and 2017 in the aftermath of the US election.<br /> <br /> It also raised the key interest rate to tame inflation and curb market volatility. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473086/244470_70963_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM More free WiFi hotspots coming http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/More-free-WiFi-hotspots-coming_82136 GOVERNMENT, in a drive to facilitate greater Internet access to Jamaicans, will continue to roll out free secured Wi-Fi hotspots in popular public places across the island.<br /> <br /> The initiative is being made possible through the Universal Service Fund (USF), an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, which will carry out the installation in the select locations. <br /> <br /> So far, the popular heritage site, Devon House, has been provided with the free service.<br /> <br /> This was announced Tuesday by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley during the fourth staging of the National Cyber Security Conference at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona.<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley said the service will also be rolled out in Half-Way-Tree and Emancipation Park in Kingston; Spanish Town, St Catherine; Montego Bay, St James; and Ocho Rios, St Ann, as well as some rural centres across the island.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As a Government, we recognise that we have to embrace technology and, as we improve the way citizens do business on the Internet, the Government has committed to removing the barriers to facilitate use of these fantastic services, especially as it relates to citizen-to-Government interactions,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley added that other measures include zero-rated access to Government websites and content, the Tablets in Schools initiative, as well as the Smart City initiative, which will be piloted in the New Kingston area.<br /> <br /> He said the Smart City initiative will be rolled out in the latter part of 2017, with persons who live and work in the area finding themselves plugged into technology grids for the seamless delivery of services.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, he urged Jamaicans, particularly children, to be vigilant with cybersecurity issues, such as hacking, identity theft, cyberbullying, among others.<br /> <br /> The minister said the Government has collaborated with several agencies to undertake public-education campaigns, such as the Jamaica Bankers Association and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. <br /> <br /> The two-day conference was hosted by the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies, under the theme &lsquo;Mobile Money, Online Banking and Citizen Awareness&rsquo;. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13050184/208298_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, December 01, 2016 12:00 AM Sales boom at &lsquo;A Jamaican Made Christmas&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Sales-boom-at--A-Jamaican-Made-Christmas-_82049 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com Exhibitors at the Continental Baking Company Foundation-hosted &lsquo;A Jamaican Made Christmas&rsquo; are again lauding the two-day expo, noting that the event has boosted sales by more than 20 per cent over the prior year.<br /> <br /> The event, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on November 27 and 28, saw hundreds of people turning out to purchase locally made items, despite the event coinciding with the local government election. <br /> <br /> What&rsquo;s more, as the micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs cement their share of the local market, many are also pushing to get a toehold in the Caribbean, United States and European markets. <br /> <br /> One such entrepreneur is Keri Henry, creative director at Lexitori Designs, a craft and accessories business which stemmed from parent company SN Kraft Limited. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are already exporting to the Cayman Islands, but we are in discussions to get into the North American market,&rdquo; Henry told the Jamaica Observer. &ldquo;We would not mind a couple other Caribbean islands, but we are definitely looking at North America.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> She reckons that the existence of the Diapora and the demand for Jamaican-made products will aid in the success of business in the market. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;When I go to a hotel like Sandals and set up for a day, the response is huge. North Americans really appreciate handcrafted, unique items, and anything from Jamaica seems to be really popular with them. So based on that demand, I believe that I can bring a piece of Jamaica there,&rdquo; she reasoned. <br /> <br /> Lexitori Designs has been operating for a little over three years from a home in Linstead, St Catherine, and is known for the production of wooden earrings. The entrepreneur has since expanded her product line to include home collection items which were debuted at the event. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The idea was to produce small accent pieces for the home. So little things that you can just put in a corner and it pops and adds to what you already have,&rdquo; Henry said. The home collection includes candle holders, boxes, poster sets, card holders and wall pieces carved and hand-painted in matching tones to the wearable collections. <br /> <br /> A Jamaican Made Christmas, now in its second staging, was designed to help small and medium-sized businesses get exposure, sales, and eventually get to the stage of exporting their products overseas. The event was conceptualised by Continental Baking Company&rsquo;s chairman and Managing Director Gary &ldquo;Butch&rdquo; Hendrickson. <br /> <br /> This year, there has been an increase of 16 exhibitors, bringing the total to 66. <br /> <br /> Beverley Robotham-Reynolds, president of Island Dolls Plus Collections, is a first-time participant in the event. She noted that the expo has not only boosted sales of her business, but has also been instrumental in marketing the company. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is important for me to get out and get feedback from customers as to what they expected from the product line, and the opportunity that this event gave me to promote my items as things made in Jamaica was of extreme importance,&rdquo; Robotham-Reynolds told the Business Observer. <br /> <br /> Operating for more than 20 years, Island Dolls Plus Collections already exports to a number of Caribbean countries, with the primary market being Barbados. Nonetheless, the entrepreneur has her eyes on the United States and European markets. <br /> <br /> Founder of Kirkland Farms, Eileen Dunkley-Shim, has been operating for a little over a month in the production of raw honey, peppered honey (which has been marinating for two years), souvenirs from the beehive, honeycomb and pollen poppers. <br /> <br /> Also a first-time participant of A Jamaican Made Christmas, she hopes to get her products noticed by customers and to eventually become a household brand. <br /> <br /> Dunkley-Shim got into bee-keeping three years ago, but it was not until she did a friend&rsquo;s wedding souvenirs that she decided to start the business. She noted that sales from the event trended upwards by day two, as well as broadened the company&rsquo;s customer base outside of corporate companies. <br /> <br /> Dunkley-Shim is already planning her next step for Kirkland Farms, she said &ldquo;I need to consider retail now that the business has taken off. There are a few other things I want to do which includes finding other ways of using honey.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467524/244227_70700_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467525/244156_70673_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467526/244220_70698_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467528/244218_70699_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:00 AM