News

Sunday Brew — November 17, 2019

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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The Jamaica dollar is under pressure, getting uppercuts, jabs, kicks, slaps, and it has even pitched puppalick as it grapples to stay alive.

There are few out there willing to save the currency. Those who can have been moving slowly. They do not care about the broader picture that once the dollar devalues, so does the standard of living of, in particular, the poor and vulnerable Jamaican citizen. Also the national debt, naturally, increases, among other negatives.

Look at what has happened so far: Due to the greed of merchants, banks and others who many times deliberately put pressure on the dollar, plus the inability of the Bank of Jamaica to defend it adequately, we are now exposed to hikes in the prices of basic goods, electricity, cable and Internet charges; increased credit card payments for those who have dual currency cards that must be settled in US dollars, or Jamaican dollars calculated at the highest rate possible.

What will happen soon is the following: Gas price rise, water cost hike, more imported food items will skyrocket, public passenger operators will be asking for fare increases, as they will cite gas price, higher cost of spare parts, batteries, tyres, etc.

Good grief! Why is the Administration so all unconcerned about how poor people live? They know the consequences of a dropping dollar, yet they just sit there and whenever the ordinary citizen like me says something you hear that we do not understand economics and finance, and we do not have PhDs, nor are we scholars.

Luckily, though, many of us have our doctorate in a hard-to-understand discipline called Common Sense. That's what our technocrats and some of our political leaders do not understand.

Again, I salute Eddie Seaga, who left this life earlier this year. The effort that he put in as finance minister to defend the Jamaica dollar from 1980 to 1989 was remarkable. He protected the population from the vultures.

Dr Peter Phillips, when he was at finance, also demonstrated that he knew how to manage currency fluctuations.

Maybe, too, someone can tell me why we have over $3 billion tied up in the net international reserves, waiting for some unforeseen disaster, while our people suffer from a battered dollar. I'm waiting...

Action at Bustamante Hospital for Children

Although I was not there and therefore not privy to first-hand, blow-by-blow occurrences, reports of a confrontation between a parent and a doctor were not surprising.

Our health care sector is in such a mess that I wonder how there are not more such clashes daily.

In the Bustamante case, the parent may have been wrong; the doctor too, but it brings into focus the frustration that those who have to use the health services, and many of those who work in it, have to go through.

The interesting thing is that such reports of clashes rarely happen in privately run health institutions. I dare say that 99 per cent of the negatives you hear about are confined to the State-controlled facilities.

Kingston Public Hospital, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital, May Pen Hospital, Mandeville Hospital, Cornwall Regional Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Bustamante Hospital, Black River Hospital, and Savanna-la-Mar Hospital are the names most mentioned for 'poor' treatment of those who go there to seek care.

I have been to all of these hospitals, and more, and I have seen, first-hand, the unprofessional treatment meted out to Jamaican citizens by medical workers, especially nurses.

At times, too, the workers themselves are mistreated and verbally abused out of frustration. There is guilt on either side, but hospital employees in the public sector need to behave better and show those who seek medical attention far more respect than they are getting. The bottom line is, if you have money, you can get first-rate medical care in Jamaica.

A SURE TONIC FOR ST MARY'S ROBIN'S BAY

It emerged last week that businessman Everoy Chin is leading the way in creating economic opportunities for the youth of Robin's Bay in central St Mary. Chin, who is the managing director of the Everoy Chin Group of Companies, which includes Home International Ltd, Robin's Bay Village and Beach Resort, among others, has put up $1.5 million in cash and equipment to assist the youth of the seacoast village to start a welding training operation. That's a noble gesture.

Robin's Bay, where residents depend on the fishing industry and some amount of tourism, has largely been neglected by various political administrations for decades.

It is hoped that now that Chin has stepped forward with a dose of capital, others in business will do likewise and pave the way for others to learn how to 'fish'.

Chin last week spoke about setting up a training centre for women to learn some traditional professions, which, it is hoped, will be latched onto by other entrepreneurs with hearts as caring as Chin's.

Can you imagine if 1,000 businessmen, based here or overseas, would each commit to starting one training programme in a community across Jamaica? What a joy that would be.

West Indies look good... 'soft' opponents or not

Many will say, 'Oh, it is only Afghanistan.' So when the West Indies completed a three-match clean sweep of the war-torn country in a 50-over cricket series last week, to some, it was no big thing.

But to those who understand what has been happening in West Indies cricket of late, the series win must go down as a refreshing achievement. Success breeds success. Had Afghanistan beaten the Windies you would never have heard the end of it.

Now, they have won, so there must be something good that the Caribbean men are doing.

There were some decent individual performances coming from Shai Hope and Roston Chase in particular.

I've always wondered how come Chase was not selected before, because he, as I mentioned in an earlier article, would do far better than his fellow Barbadian 'spinner' Ashley Nurse could achieve, plus he is an established batsman who should be batting at number three as the estabilising force.

Captain Kieron Pollard has been smart on the field.

His placings are those of a thinking person and his bowling changes, suggest that the word 'cunning' walks with him in his back pocket. He needs to lead a charge though, to teach Guyanese Shimron Hetmyer how to bat.

I have no regrets for the sacrifice that I made to get up and watch the West Indies play the three matches each day, starting at 3:30 in the morning. Win or lose, that interest will be maintained.


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