LAST Tuesday morning, we listened to Professor Richard Curtin, head of the University of Michigan Survey Research Centre, as he revealed that both business and consumer confidence had hit low levels in the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC)-sponsored 2013 third quarter survey. However, later that very day, there was a well-attended show of new Mercedes Benz models at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
A group of patriotic Jamaicans are currently planning a fund-raising dinner to be held this Thursday for the maintenance and enhancement of our beautiful heritage site, Devon House. Committee member Chef Celeste Ritch Gordon has been busy, along with fellow participating chefs, in moments leading up to this well-conceptualised initiative. jobs. Our social pages tell us that there is no let-up on the party scene, which creates well-needed employment, so I imagine the chefs already have their hands full.
While the sliding dollar and the high level of unemployment may result in pessimism, Prof Curtin said that messaging around positive national happenings could help to promote greater optimism, important for economic growth. Prof Curtin noted a media report of a Disney cruise ship docked in Trelawny, and craft vendors selling goods to them. "Those vendors are entrepreneurs," he insisted. "That is what should be emphasised."
At the JCC presentation, Jamaican market research guru Don Anderson explained that after each general election, the country becomes highly expectant, buoyed by election promises. After time passes and this does not materialise, there is the pattern of a plunge in confidence.
Jamaica Observer business columnist Keith Collister described the situation as 'The great squeeze', and said that the way out was to achieve a critical mass for the export industry. He also noted the importance of tax reform, quoting in his Friday Business Observer column past PSOJ President Joe Matalon, and referring to the yeoman work done in this area by his father, the late Roy Collister, during the 80s.
The opportunities for export are tremendous. Because of the various requests we have when going abroad, we know that the world cannot get enough of Jamaica's coffee, rum, ginger, pimento, Scotch bonnet pepper, logwood honey, ground provisions, fruits and vegetables. An expatriate, who is regarded as a gourmet chef, says he has never had tastier food anywhere else in the world. Some of the world's top chefs who recently visited Jamaica noted the quality and variety of our mangoes -- we could do so much more with this remarkable and abundant fruit.
I remember business leader Donna Duncan-Scott observing the importance of focus: she pointed out that without close attention, no person, place or thing can develop properly. Well do we recall Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller saying to her newly sworn-in Cabinet in January of last year: "Let's get to work!" Nearly two years later, we are suggesting that she requests a list of significant results from the work of these ministers. We are tired of the photo opportunities. We need to know about the real opportunities that have been created and are in place for once-expectant Jamaicans.
BRING THE FAMILY BACK
In a radio interview about the behaviour of schoolchildren at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre, the Manager Lynval Thompson commented that when he called in the parents of unruly students, many seemed to care little about their children's actions.
We are asking our church leaders to take a very hard look at this breakdown and come together with Government to promote better family life. It is said that for a child to thrive, s/he needs one loving and responsible adult in her/his life. Although the ideal is the nuclear family, we know many successful children raised by single parents, grandmothers and other relatives or close family friends. The important factor is an orderly environment in which the child can thrive; a proper routine for studying, sleeping, activities with family and friends, worship, and home chores.
The heart-warming family support of our brightest stars is a good example for Jamaica. At the GraceKennedy homecoming event for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, last Wednesday, she looked around expectantly for her mother, Maxine Simpson, and displayed great joy on her arrival. Shelly-Ann always speaks of the tremendous support she gets from her husband, Jason.
At a surprise send-off Digicel party last Thursday for Tessanne Chin, her parents, her husband Michael Cuffe Jr, the parents of her husband, her sister Tami, and the parents of her sister's husband Wayne were all on hand to cheer on the young star. This is the family strength that brings so much confidence to the Jamaican who has thrilled NBC's The Voice audience worldwide.
Every child deserves this kind of support, and it is not fair to ask teachers to be parents to classes of 50 students; that is simply impossible. Whatever policies need to be put in place, let us see our parliamentarians move on them to make parents more accountable.
FAREWELL, FINE JAMAICANS
We bid farewell to the dignified former deputy PM and former ambassador to Washington, Seymour Mullings, who will be accorded an official funeral this Thursday at 11:00 am at St Matthew's Anglican Church in Claremont. What a fine example of decency he has set for his fellow politicians.
Former Mayor of Mandeville Cecil Charlton was a caring patriot. I remember him saying that so concerned was he about unemployment that his chicken-picking machine lay idle at his farm so that he could pay six persons to do the work manually.
The late mayor of Portmore, George Lee, was a colleague member of the Public Relations Society of Jamaica in the 80s. Even as he rose to high office, his long-time associates noted that he always took the time to greet them warmly. It was just last year that he greeted me effusively, with his devoted wife Aneita by his side. So hard to believe he is gone.
Condolences also to Clovis Metcalfe who lost his mother, Earl and Mike Jarrett who lost their father, and Rohan Powell who lost his mother. It is fitting to celebrate these wonderful lives, and the many unsung, this Heroes' Day.
CONGRATULATIONS, NATIONAL HONOREES
It was John F Kennedy who said: "A rising tide raises all boats." And so today, let us wholeheartedly applaud the wonderful Jamaicans who will receive national honours at King's House today. If I start to call names I would be sure to get into trouble. So, let me leave that to live-tweeting as we watch the ceremony this morning. I am so proud of you, my friends!