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 Supreme Court resumes hearing on compensation for Lasco/Medimpex http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Supreme-Court-resumes-hearing-on-compensation-for-Lasco-Medimpex_87212 The Supreme Court is scheduled to resume hearing statements from witnesses for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in the hypertension drug case involving Jamaican distributors Lasco and Medimpex tomorrow at King Street.<br /> <br /> Justice Viviene Harris is expected to hear further evidence from Ronald Camps, a former financial director at Pfizer, who held the post 2005-2012, when the court allowed an injunction preventing Lasco and Medimpex from selling their popular hypertension/blood pressure pills &mdash; Las Amlodipine and Normodipine.<br /> <br /> The injunction was sought by Pfizer, which feared increasing sales of the local firms&rsquo; generics, which were priced much cheaper than Pfizer&rsquo;s Norvasc. However, it ended up costing both companies huge profits, although Pfizer lost its case in both the local Supreme Court and at the Privy Council in London, Jamaica&rsquo;s final appeal court.<br /> <br /> Camps, whose cross-examination by Lloyd Barnett, attorney for Medimpex, started when the case was suspended in late November, has said that some 600,000 Jamaicans were suffering from hypertension.<br /> <br /> However, he suggested that about 50 per cent of these people were unaware of that fact, and only about 150,000 were being treated, of which 9,000 were using Pfizer&rsquo;s product.<br /> <br /> He refuted Lasco&rsquo;s claim that there was a growing market for the products, claiming that the market for amlodipine-based products was &ldquo;mature&rdquo;, meaning that there was no room for growth.<br /> <br /> Lasco&rsquo;s chairman, Lascelles Chin, had informed the court during his testimony last September that the injunction did significant damage to his company&rsquo;s projection of 500 per cent growth based on its sales.<br /> <br /> Chin said that some 800,000 Jamaicans, or about 40 per cent of the population, were suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure). He also noted that, at the time the issue arose, his company was selling its Amlopidine pill for $15-$20 each, while Pfizer&rsquo;s Norvasc was selling for $120 per pill.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So the damage was not to Lasco alone, but also the poor people who couldn&rsquo;t afford it (during the seven-year injunction),&rdquo; Chin stated.<br /> <br /> Prem Lobo, a principal at Canadian firm Cohen Hamilton Steger & Co Inc which specialises in the quantification of damages, business valuations and forensic accounting, and is Pfizer&rsquo;s expert witness in the case, is also expected to take the stand this month.<br /> <br /> He is expected to defend his report which was the basis for Pfizer&rsquo;s estimated damages of US$500,000-US$2.9 milliion. He is expected to speak to a reasonable award for damages in his testimony. <br /> <br /> Sheldon Tobe, MD, FRCP(C), associate professor of medicine, nephrology, at the University of Toronto, is also expected to give evidence by video link. He will focus on the drug itself and use of diuretics and calcium channel blockers (amlodipine) to treat hypertension.<br /> <br /> Dr Tobe has insisted that the combination of both is better suited to &ldquo;people of colour&rdquo;, including Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> Among witnesses giving expert evidence for the local firms, the last to take the stand was Professor Rainford Wilks, one of Jamaica&rsquo;s leading researchers in the area of hypertension, who has insisted that approximately 40 per cent of Jamaicans, 15 years and older, have hypertension.<br /> <br /> That translates into 700,000-900,000 Jamaicans, with the numbers steadily increasing, the majority of whom are from the low socio-economic classes, according to Lasco.<br /> <br /> Lasco has also insisted that less than 40 per cent of Jamaicans with hypertension are receiving treatment. The company says that this shows the size of the potential market for the product, as well as the suggestion that, with a sufficiently low-priced product, a distributor could ultimately reach nearly all who are in the potential market. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587422/253720_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Conduent to shutter Amazon unit, redeploy workers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Conduent-to-shutter-Amazon-unit--redeploy-workers_87172 The Business Processing outsourcing (BPO) arm of Xerox International, a division which has been rebran<br /> <br /> ded Conduent, is set to send home or redeploy approximately 1,000 workers over the coming months as it shutters a unit which provided back office and customer service support for online retail giant Amazon.<br /> <br /> Staff in both St Catherine and Montego Bay are affected, the Jamaica Observer has been reliably informed.<br /> <br /> Kevin Lightfoot, head of Global Communications for Congruent, while not verifying the actual numbers affected and the timeline for planned redundancies, said the closure of the unit was a certainty.<br /> <br /> Lightfoot told Sunday Finance: &ldquo;Due to fluctuating client needs, service companies occasionally must redeploy resources. This includes assigning employees to different clients where their skills and experience can be fully utilised.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Amazon &mdash; the company involved &mdash; is a US electronic commerce and cloud computing company which has separate retail websites for the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Mexico. In third quarter 2016, the e-commerce company generated total net sales of US$32.71 billion, up from $30.4 billion in the second quarter of the previous year.<br /> <br /> Lightfoot did not comment on the impact of the account&rsquo;s closure on Conduent.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Conduent continues to experience growth in Jamaica, with clients expanding their presence in our local operations and new clients choosing to have their customers served from this location,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> He did not reply to queries about the impact of growing competition within Jamaica on Conduent&rsquo;s operations. <br /> <br /> Unconfirmed reports are that the account will now be handled by Ibis Jamaica and Sutherland Gobal. E-mail queries sent to both companies did not receive a response up to press time.<br /> <br /> Local reports from inside Conduent say the company will be trying to persuade its competitors to take on board workers who are no longer needed. It was also said that the company might rehire workers on new accounts which will be up and running by Q2 2017.<br /> <br /> Conduent, which was created mid-year 2016 to house Xerox&rsquo;s BPO unit, is described by the company as a Fortune 500-scale business process services company with expertise in transaction-intensive processing, analytics and automation.<br /> <br /> It represents approximately US$7 billion in 2015 revenue and 96,000 employees worldwide.<br /> <br /> In Jamaica, the company employs some 6,500 people from 11 locations on the island. Jamaica provides support for corporations operating in industries such as health care, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, retail, transportation, and high-tech.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587426/253675_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM JMMB focuses on &lsquo;Her Wealth&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/JMMB-focuses-on--Her-Wealth-_87057 Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) aims to cement its place as the financial partner of choice for women with its newest product offering, JMMB Her Wealth.<br /> <br /> In launching what it describes as the first of its kind on the market, the investment institution has designed the financial solution with hopes of empowering women to realise their financial goals through investments, loans, savings and insurance.<br /> <br /> The women-only event was held at the Spanish Court Hotel on Wednesday. <br /> <br /> JMMB Her Wealth follows on two new unit trust products &mdash; the JMMB Bond Fund and JMMB Real Value Fund &mdash; launched by the institution in 2015 as it sought to increase market share. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip;whatever they are and wherever we are on our financial journey. We have included unique add-ons like maternity loan and handbag coverage, which is a part of the motor vehicle insurance coverage,&rdquo; JMMB Country Manager Kisha Anderson told the audience, adding that the company has identified that women have unique needs and have a different relationship with money from men.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As your financial partner we want to support you by providing financial expertise and education to give you greater access to critical services so that you can be empowered to make the best financial decisions for yourselves, your families and those who depend on you,&rdquo; she continued. <br /> <br /> According to Anderson, the financial institution, which made $2.03 billion in net profit in the six-month period ended September 30, 2016, expects the introduction of JMMB Her Wealth to expand the company&rsquo;s client base while deepening its relationship with clients.<br /> <br /> Currently, the gender split of JMMB&rsquo;s client base stands at 59 per cent, in favour of women. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Research indicates that women represent a huge potential market opportunity for growth across many industries, including finance where there are gaps perceived in the way financial institutions cater to women and their unique needs,&rdquo; said Anderson.<br /> <br /> JMMB Her Wealth will also feature a rewards programme for services utilised by women in their daily lives, including medical care, beauty, auto and home and garden services. JMMB will be partnering with companies from the service industries to offer discounts between five and 20 per cent.<br /> <br /> As a part of its aim to facilitate financial empowerment for women, JMMB Group will also be hosting quarterly financial education sessions which are expected to provide women with guidance and knowledge of important financial matters.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13436029/241137_67701_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Association of Financial Professionals looking to expand in Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Association-of-Financial-Professionals-looking-to-expand-in-Jamaica-_87055 The Jamaica Association of Investment Professionals (JAIP) indicated this week that it is seeking to add to local membership 36 individuals with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential &mdash; a level of professional certification considered to be the most recognised investment management designation globally.<br /> <br /> As of December 2016 there were 64 charter holders in Jamaica. The association wants to increase the number to 100 in three years&rsquo; time.<br /> <br /> Keith Duncan, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Group &mdash; himself a charter holder &mdash; is pointing out the critical role that the financial professionals have played in Jamaica since the first debt swap and subsequent initiatives for which their technical skills were tapped.<br /> <br /> Duncan was a guest speaker on January 17 at the awards ceremony held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston by CFA and JAIP for the island&rsquo;s latest charter holders &mdash;Andre Fairclough and Fornia Young.<br /> <br /> Through its study programme, CFA targets individuals engaged in investment decision making such as portfolio managers, financial advisors and research analysts on both the buy and sell side.<br /> <br /> It is said to have an annual pass rate of 15 per cent, with a lower success rate in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Brian Frazer, President of JAIP, said at the awards function that there are more than 140,000 CFA charter holders worldwide with over 147 local member societies in 80 countries.<br /> <br /> Frazer wants Jamaica to grow at a faster rate than the current 10 per cent average, in order to secure the approval of the CFA institute for the island&rsquo;s own CFA society, which would provide more access to resources for new charter prospects. <br /> <br /> JAIP has developed a plan, including recruiting in local universities and among working financial professionals, to increase charter holders.<br /> <br /> The President advised charter hopefuls: &ldquo;We need you to be persistent in completing all three levels of the programme. We all know that there is no magic formula to passing the exams. It is a function of the amount of time that you allocate to covering the material. It is not about how bright you are, but what we know is that it will take some sacrifice, a lot of commitment and strength of character.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Keith Duncan in his address said the CFA provides &ldquo;a body of knowledge, competency and skill sets,&rdquo; noting that it &ldquo;creates value through the expansive and detailed body of knowledge&hellip;. investment management, portfolio management, risk management, financial analysis, financial engineering&hellip;and most importantly the ethical standards.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> JMMB, Duncan said, has CFAs in the strategy unit, the human resource area, risk, investments, capital markets and in retail management, which, he said, &ldquo;has elevated the quality of the strategic, policy and management discussions and has ensured that JMMB remains at the cutting edge&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> JMMB&rsquo;s financial engineers, he added, have &ldquo;played a significant role in the deepening of the Capital Markets in Jamaica and the region.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;JMMB has traditionally been a fixed-income player and contributed in a real way to the buildout of the primary and secondary markets in Jamaica, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;JMMB actually introduced the reverse/repurchase (repo) product in both markets and played a leadership role in the establishing of the yield curves and contributed to the shaping of the regulatory environment in both countries.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He added, &ldquo;In bringing our expertise to bear in these markets, JMMB has been able to diversify our portfolio of business lines across the region consistent with the risk management principles taught to us all.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The company, he continued, through its financial engineering expertise has played a leadership role in initiating, modelling, designing and executing Jamaica&rsquo;s first debt swap &mdash; that is the JDX in 2010, followed by the NDX in 2013.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;JMMB&rsquo;s investment and risk analysts worked very closely with the Ministry of Finance, Citibank and the IMF in engineering and executing this swap.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In order to sustain gains made, the company&rsquo;s team was also critical in creating the first Economic Programme Oversight Committee, he disclosed. Duncan is now co-chair of that Committee.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587274/253480_80451_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM If you don&rsquo;t love yourself, how will your money love you? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/If-you-don-t-love-yourself--how-will-your-money-love-you-_87162 Perhaps you struggle with money issues and are bewildered as to why, no matter how hard you work, you cannot get ahead. Perhaps you think that people are out to get you or there is some real blockage in your life why financial freedom, better pay, a great job or some other goal continues to be beyond your reach.<br /> <br /> I understand that your story is a sad one. You developed this mindset of unworthiness because you were rejected, abandoned, or mistreated. I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced. <br /> <br /> You think back to your parents who said terrible things to you, like you would never amount to anything, and you start to realise how much that has affected you, and how much you believe this to be true. <br /> <br /> Perhaps you think that you have gotten over whatever childhood challenges you faced. However, for many of us, a lot of this is running in the background of our mind, and we are not fully aware of it. And it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to manifesting what we want.<br /> <br /> After all, getting something is all about being a match to it, and how can we become a match to something we don&rsquo;t think we deserve? How can we create a life of which we don&rsquo;t think we are worthy?<br /> <br /> Actually, we can&rsquo;t; and that is why it is so crucial to address this issue. <br /> <br /> The question is, how are you going to address the issue of what you are worth, and how much do you love yourself? And I am not talking about the narcissistic self-love that compels some people to step on others to achieve their goals. I am talking about valuing yourself and loving yourself enough to agree that you are worthy of good things in life. <br /> <br /> And you may wonder, what does this have to do with my money and how my money is feeling? Well, if you can believe that money is energy and you can attract positive or negative energy or &ldquo;vibes&rdquo;, then it is not so far-fetched to think that if your energy is negative towards yourself, then you are repelling your own good. <br /> <br /> Carol Tuttle of Liveyourtruth.com says your belief system is creating your current experience with money. Some of us are constantly in a state of need, scarcity, powerlessness, and anxiety when it comes to money. Or we have grown up in households that are infused with fear about money, so we become infused with fear about money.<br /> <br /> So let&rsquo;s take a step back for a moment with these four questions:<br /> <br /> &bull; What did you witness in your household in regard to money? <br /> <br /> &bull; What things did your parent(s) say about money and wealth? <br /> <br /> &bull; How did your parent(s) feel about money? <br /> <br /> &bull; How did your parent(s) talk to you about yourself &mdash; did they praise or insult you?<br /> <br /> Now, let us look at the present.<br /> <br /> &bull; What do you want to achieve?<br /> <br /> &bull; Is it possible for you to achieve your goal?<br /> <br /> &bull; Are you worthy of this goal by simply being yourself?<br /> <br /> Here is what I believe: by working with a financial coach or a financial advisor, you can begin to love yourself simply because you exist, and you can change your belief about money. and you&rsquo;ll see it change your bank account!<br /> <br /> So I dare you to write a new script for money based in love of yourself and valuing yourself.<br /> <br /> Take one bill of currency (JMD, Sterling, USD, Canadian or any other) and write all over the bill these statements:<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m worthy of money.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m good with money.<br /> <br /> l Money flows to me easily.<br /> <br /> l Money supports me.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m in harmony with a greater flow of money.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m grateful for the money I have now.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m receiving money from expected and unexpected places.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m honouring others who have more money than me.<br /> <br /> l I&rsquo;m choosing happiness now, no matter how much money I have.<br /> <br /> Read it every day!<br /> <br /> According to Occidental Asset Management, knowing yourself better is the best starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial health. The importance of money beliefs cannot be overstated. Money scripts have been used in research and have become associated with an increase in:<br /> <br /> &bull; Income<br /> <br /> &bull; Net worth<br /> <br /> &bull; Positive financial behaviour<br /> <br /> So don&rsquo;t go it alone. Reach out to a financial coach or financial advisor and get help to change your inner beliefs about your own value and the money that you deserve.<br /> <br /> Dennise Williams, MBA (Banking & Finance) is a journalist, TV producer, certified practitioner NLP Coach and has 15 years experience in the financial services industry. You can see more of her work at www.youtube.com/financiallyfocused and contact her at financiallyfocusedtv@gmail.com. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587389/253673_80499_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM SLB reconsiders position on student affected by stroke http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/SLB-reconsiders-position-on-student-affected-by-stroke_87159 Dear Claudienne,<br /> <br /> I am writing you to seek information about Students&rsquo; Loan Bureau (SLB) repayments.<br /> <br /> I was a student at the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech). However, on September 16, 2015, during my final semester of school I suffered a stroke. The stroke has left the right side of my body paralysed, and my speech has been affected as well.<br /> <br /> As I am a beneficiary of the SLB, I made it a priority to inform them about the stroke. I therefore sent an e-mail to the SLB in October 2015 outlining all the details.<br /> <br /> I also wanted to know how my loan and repayment would be dealt with, given my situation. Please note that I had contacted the SLB two weeks before the stroke, as I wanted to start my repayments even though I was given until January 2016 to begin repayment.<br /> <br /> After communicating with the SLB about the stroke, it became clear that they had no contingency plan for students who had severe illnesses.<br /> <br /> On December 14, 2015, the SLB e-mailed me requesting letters from my school, doctor and myself about my condition. I have fully complied with their request. I was told that I needed to write to the SLB and outline what I wanted them to do for me in light of my situation.<br /> <br /> So as to prevent one year&rsquo;s interest accumulating on the loan, I wrote to the SLB and requested that my repayments be deferred for one year until January 2017.<br /> <br /> In the middle of April 2016, I was told that my request was denied and that I would have to start paying over $17,000 per month as of April 2016.<br /> <br /> However, they stated that my case would be reviewed in six months. After the six-month period passed, I did not hear from the SLB, so I e-mailed them about the review. I was told that they were unable to make a decision regarding my situation because they needed an updated medical report to ascertain if I would be able to resume school in September 2016.<br /> <br /> Please note that even though school was to begin at the end of August, I was not advised until almost the end of October that I would need a new medical report.<br /> <br /> I feel that I am being strung along by the SLB. It has been a year since I had the stroke and I feel as though my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, my arrears have mounted to $200,000, and I am still unable to pay the SLB.<br /> <br /> I am still not back in school as I am barely walking. I cannot use my right hand, my speech is still slurred and I am stuttering as well.<br /> <br /> This mounting debt from the SLB is stressing me out. I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. I am losing my hair and I often find myself breaking down in tears. I fear that all this stress may lead to another stroke.<br /> <br /> I thought that my account would be covered under their death/disability clause in the contract, but they say a stroke is not a disability. I am willing to pay but I am unable to pay currently, I just need more time. I spoke to my guarantors but they are both unable to assist.<br /> <br /> Are there any institutions or people that can help me? I was thinking about getting a lawyer but I cannot afford one.<br /> <br /> Please help me or point me to someone who can help.<br /> <br /> SD<br /> <br /> Dear SD:<br /> <br /> Tell Claudienne communicated with the SLB about your concerns and we note that their legal officer has now met with you. We have been informed that the SLB is working to extend by two years the period when your loan repayments should begin. This means that repayment of your loan would begin in January 2018 and not January 2016.<br /> <br /> The SLB said that a pre-existing condition led to the stroke affecting you for more than six months. The legal officer said that the original medical report said that you would have been assessed in September 2016, but when they realised that your recovery would take a longer time, they requested a more detailed report from your doctor. <br /> <br /> The legal officer said that in the original medical report the doctor said that you could not use your right hand, but did not use the word &lsquo;disabled&rsquo;. The SLB has spoken to your doctor. They said that your account is being assessed to determine whether your current disability meets the criteria that would allow it to be settled by the provisions of their insurance.<br /> <br /> We sincerely hope that your health continues to improve.<br /> <br /> All the best.<br /> <br /> Have a problem with a store, utility company? Telephone 936-9346 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/12782563/192562_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM New Cemex offer still not good enough &mdash; TCL board http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/New-Cemex-offer-still-not-good-enough---TCL-board-_87200 Along with the disclosure that some of the company&rsquo;s directors and officers have decided to accept the upgraded offer per share for units in Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), the board of TCL has issued a new circular advising shareholders to reject the latest offer from Cemex S A&rsquo;s subsidiary Sierra Trading, which they say remains below valuation.<br /> <br /> Cemex, a global materials trader based in Mexico, announced its intention in early December to acquire up to 132,616,942 ordinary shares in TCL at TT$4.50 each, an offer subsequently raised to TT$5.07 after company directors on December 23 recommended a rejection of the offer as unfair.<br /> <br /> TCL&rsquo;s main operations are in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados. It is the majority shareholder of Caribbean Cement Company Ltd (CCCL), a cement producer in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Together with Sierra&rsquo;s existing share ownership in TCL of approximately 39.5 per cent in the Trinidadian company, the acquisition &mdash; if successful &mdash; would result in the company holding up to 74.9 per cent of the equity share capital in TCL.<br /> <br /> On January 11, Cemex upped its price by TT 57 cents per share, also offering to pay shareholders who accept their offer &mdash; except for those in Barbados &mdash; the option of receiving payment in US dollars. Sierra would now pay approximately TT$672 million (US$101 million), based on the revised price. The acceptance date of January 24 remained.<br /> <br /> But, on January 19, by way of a supplemental directors&rsquo; circular, the TCL board again said the offer fell below the Ernst and Young valuation in the range of TT$5.60 to TT$6.18 &mdash; a value submitted as part of a fairness opinion solicited by the board.<br /> <br /> In Thursday&rsquo;s circular, the board said, &ldquo;Notwithstanding the final offer of TT$5.07 per share made by Sierra, the Board of Directors of TCL recommends that the bid, as amended and varied, be also rejected.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The principal reasons they said included the fact that the offer is below the range of values recommended.<br /> <br /> The board said it &ldquo;has concluded that it would not be in the interest of shareholders to accept the Amended Offer of TT$5.07 per share&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Directors further said, &ldquo;The board is aware that shareholders in Jamaica and in Trinidad and Tobago have the option to receive their compensation in the amount of US$0.76 per share and advises shareholders to consider whether simply that fact would have an impact on their decision making.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The circular disclosed that three directors had so far decided to accept the offer. It urged shareholders to read all information made available, including the Availability of Funds letter from Cemex.<br /> <br /> Ernst and Young noted in their valuation report, which was attached to the latest circular, that the fair market value of 100 per cent of TCL&rsquo;s issued and outstanding ordinary shares, as at 31 December 2016, is in the range of approximately TT$2.09 billion to TT$2.32 billion, or TT$5.60 to TT$6.18 per ordinary share, or a mid-point of TT$5.89 per ordinary share.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587217/253698_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Hinduja Global Solutions seeks 500 workers for new location http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Hinduja-Global-Solutions-seeks-500-workers-for-new-location_87160 Hinduja Global Solutions Limited (HGS), business process firm, on January 18 officially opened its fourth customer experience centre on Constant Spring Road in Kingston.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re happy to share that we have invested in 80,000 sq ft for the new centre, which brings the total sq ft of all four HGS centres in Jamaica to 135,000 sq ft. We now have 1,550 employees in Jamaica and are continuing to grow based on the new expansion,&rdquo; the company said.<br /> <br /> The company said in a release that it is now on the hunt for a minimum of 500 workers &mdash; positions which must be filled in the first quarter of 2017, with the end target of 1,000 total employees for the centre. <br /> <br /> HGS has three existing centres in Kingston &mdash; Worthington Terrace, Saxthorpe Avenue and Constant Spring Road, which is where the fourth centre is also located. <br /> <br /> HGS indicates that workers needed for the new centre are permanent full-time directors, managers, team leaders, customer care associates, and data management analysts. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;These positions are ideal for applicants who enjoy problem solving and helping people within a supportive learning environment,&rdquo; it was stated.<br /> <br /> Narasimha Murthy, president of Jamaica and Corporate Shared Services, Americas at HGS, was quoted as saying that growth in Jamaica &ldquo;is due to the company&rsquo;s strong business performance, particularly within the health-care industry, which the Jamaica locations primarily serve&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The company indicates that it offers &ldquo;highly competitive compensation and benefits packages to its employees,&rdquo; plus &ldquo;an internal gender diversity programme, and partnerships with local non-profit organisations to provide skills training to underprivileged people and youth with disabilities&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> HGS says it partners with local educational institutions such as the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology and the University College of the Caribbean to help develop local talent. <br /> <br /> The company indicates that it has 44,000 employees in 66 worldwide locations &ldquo;delivering localised solutions&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> For the year ended 31st March, 2016, HGS had revenues of US$ 507 million.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Avia Collinder <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587420/253678_80569_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Main Event Entertainment launches IPO &Acirc;­ http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Main-Event-Entertainment-launches-IPO---_87170 Main Event Entertainment Group Limited (MEEG), a Kingston-based event management company, has launched an IPO via the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) aimed at raising $120 million in share capital.<br /> <br /> The company has offered for subscription up to 60,000,000 shares priced at $2 each. The invitation is slated to open Tuesday, 24 January and close Tuesday, 7 February, 2017. Lead broker is Mayberry Investments Ltd.<br /> <br /> MEEG, a 13-year-old company, was started in 2004 by Solomon Sharpe and Richard Bair, entertainment and promotions entrepreneurs whose company provides event management, brand promotion and entertainment services.<br /> <br /> With a staff of 149 inclusive of contractors, the prospectus says the company is committed to promoting state-of-the-art events for its clients, and to expanding its services in the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> It aims to provide turnkey solutions to event management, digital signage and promotions services in Jamaica and the Caribbean. <br /> <br /> Services are currently provided to clients in Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad and Turks and Caicos, as outlined in the offer document.<br /> <br /> The offer to the market is 20 per cent of MEEG. Eighty per cent of the company is owned by MEEG Holdings Ltd, an international business company incorporated in St Lucia with its registered office at 10 Manoel Street, Castries, St Lucia &mdash; the holding company of the MEEG.<br /> <br /> Proceeds of the invitation will be used to purchase equipment for use in the business in order to attract and service increased numbers of customers, the prospectus indicates. <br /> <br /> Additionally, funds raised will be used to upgrade and expand the company&rsquo;s operations islandwide in order to reduce service delivery times and costs, it was outlined. The funds are also needed for working capital and general corporate purposes.<br /> <br /> A minimum of $120 million is needed for the offer to succeed, as outlined in the company prospectus.<br /> <br /> Up to 53,398,360 of these are reserved shares for clients of broker Mayberry Ltd, clients of Mayberry West Indies Ltd, key partners, managers, directors and employees. <br /> <br /> However, the company notes that where these are not taken up, they will become available to the general public. It is the intention of the company to apply to the JSE to list the shares on the Junior Market, if the offer succeeds.<br /> <br /> The directors said in the management analysis provided in the prospectus that they consider that the event management industry in Jamaica is thriving. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Corporate entities have come to appreciate the power of brand marketing via sponsored events and productions. This helps to ensure that customers both discover and remain loyal to their products and services.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> They assert that in Jamaica, an average of one to two events per day are held with a budget ranging from $100,000 to $100 million. <br /> <br /> According to the directors&rsquo; estimates, there are 38 event management companies operating in the Jamaican market. Of those companies, they consider that the company has three true competitors who provide packaged event management services. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;A major competitive advantage for the company is the fact that it provides a turnkey solution primarily out of its own resources, so as to minimise process and completion risk arising from the failure of subcontractors to deliver on time. For the same reason, the company owns approximately 95 per cent of the equipment and resources that it requires to execute projects in Jamaica,&rdquo; it was noted.<br /> <br /> The company&rsquo;s financial year runs from November 1st to October 31st. Total revenue in 2015 was $1.03 billion, an increase of 54 per cent relative to the $669.46 million recorded in 2014.<br /> <br /> During the 2015 financial year MEEG earned $742.72 million from its entertainment promotions revenue stream, and this accounted for 72 per cent of overall revenues. <br /> <br /> Revenue for the 11 months ended September 2016 increased 11 per cent to $1.03 billion, up from the $926.02 million in 2015. <br /> <br /> Assets totalled $599.02 million as at September 30, buttressed by the company&rsquo;s acquisition of new audio, multimedia and digital signage equipment as well as a new fleet of vehicles.<br /> <br /> Total liabilities for the period amounted to $352.26 million, an increase of nine per cent relative to 2015. This resulted mainly from a $27.3 million increase in payables which represented amounts due on supply lines for new assets being acquired, the prospectus said.<br /> <br /> Shareholders&rsquo; equity stood at $246.76 million as at September 30.<br /> <br /> The company&rsquo;s current head office is leased and located at 70-72 Lady Musgrave Road. It also leases warehouse space in Newport West, St Andrew, to store equipment and other items used in production.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587390/253674_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM For white-collar staff, AI threatens new workplace revolution http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/For-white-collar-staff--AI-threatens-new-workplace-revolution_87073 DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) &mdash; If your job involves inputting reams of data for a company, you might want to think about retraining in a more specialised field. Or as a plumber. <br /> <br /> After industrial robots and international trade put paid to many manufacturing jobs in the West, millions of white-collar workers could now be under threat from new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI). <br /> <br /> The issue of how best to face up to this &ldquo;Fourth Industrial Revolution&rdquo; has been exercising politicians and business leaders this week at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos.<br /> <br /> The progress of artificial intelligence has been &ldquo;staggering&rdquo; in recent years, said Vishal Sikka, chief executive of Indian IT services giant Infosys.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;But in many ways we are at the beginning of this evolution and we face the prospect of leaving a larger part of humanity behind than in any other (industrial) advance,&rdquo; he warned.<br /> <br /> Public disquiet about technological change and globalisation has already sparked a populist backlash in Western countries, culminating in Donald Trump&rsquo;s inauguration as US president on Friday.<br /> <br /> But much more dislocation could yet be coming, and both the public and Western governments need to wake up to the challenge, observers say.<br /> <br /> New technologies are &ldquo;going to completely disrupt and change the working place for a long time&rdquo;, and governments must put in place policies, skills training and safety nets to cope, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said.<br /> <br /> Education systems are failing to plug skills shortages, experts say.<br /> <br /> Europe and the United States have hundreds of thousands of vacancies in IT and engineering which often get filled by immigrants, for want of home-grown talent, feeding in turn the anti-globalisation backlash.<br /> <br /> And according to a survey of 18,000 employers in 43 countries by employment consultancy ManpowerGroup, up to 45 per cent of tasks done daily in the workplace could be automated using current technology.<br /> <br /> For its part, global consultancy McKinsey said more than 60 per cent of jobs and 30 per cent of business activities could be automated today.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t rely on government to reskill people in the face of rapid technological change and automation. Business will have to drive this,&rdquo; said McKinsey&rsquo;s global managing partner, Dominic Barton.<br /> <br /> EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Back office&rdquo; labour in banking, insurance and other financial services, which involves clerical work such as data inputting, is seen as most at risk from IT automation.<br /> <br /> But even professions like medicine and accountancy could face upheaval as AI evolves to evermore sophisticated heights.<br /> <br /> A computer using machine intelligence is perfectly equipped to crunch through the available academic literature when analysing suspected cancer in a doctor&rsquo;s patient.<br /> <br /> But the doctor would still be needed ultimately to exercise his or her judgement over the best course of treatment, a pattern of adding specialist value that needs to be replicated in other professions if they want to stay relevant.<br /> <br /> People have managed to adapt to past shifts as new industries and types of work emerge. <br /> <br /> Telephone operators used to be a ubiquitous feature of daily life. Now they are extinct, but life goes on and IT support staff are instead found in most companies.<br /> <br /> Companies such as Uber and Airbnb are disrupting old business models, creating new opportunities, albeit ones that pay less well than the stable industrial jobs of the past.<br /> <br /> And people will need to be more flexible, transitioning over multiple careers during their working lifetimes, experts predict.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen this problem before. The issue is it&rsquo;s happening faster and faster,&rdquo; Mike Gregoire, CEO of US software company CA Technologies, toldAFP. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;If we can&rsquo;t figure out a way between businesses and government to proactively help that population learn new skills where they can be productive, I think you&rsquo;re going to see a very unstable society,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> For Alain Roumilhac, president of ManpowerGroup France who started his working life as a welder, &ldquo;it all comes down to one word: education&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> Certain skill-sets will likely remain in demand. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s always hard to find a good plumber,&rdquo; said the Frenchman.<br /> <br /> But even that kind of skilled trade can find it useful to take on board elements of training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).<br /> <br /> Gregoire said that his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, lies adjacent to a river and his garden has a maze of pumps to guard against flooding, all hooked up to an iPhone app and programmed by his plumber. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;That plumber is as STEM-aware as any programmer,&rdquo; he said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13587366/253681_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Building a bond http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Building-a-bond-_87183 At the start of every year our clients ask us what to expect for the coming year, and as always I wish we could predict the future. One thing for certain is that 2017 will be an interesting one with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of interest rates, the future of the European Union, the Trump presidency, and the outlook for bonds. <br /> <br /> But instead of trying to predict the market, it is probably more useful to work with your investment advisor to devise a strategy that will best suit your risk appetite and goals. Bond laddering is a popular go-to strategy that could be considered, especially in a rising interest rate environment.<br /> <br /> Bond laddering is a strategy of creating a portfolio with several fixed-rate bonds whose maturity dates are evenly spaced across several months or years, rather than one large bond with a single maturity date &mdash; that is a &ldquo;bullet&rdquo; strategy. Since there are several bonds with staggered maturities, bonds are constantly maturing and can be reinvested at regular intervals or used to satisfy liquidity needs on a consistent, scheduled basis.<br /> <br /> Based on how it is structured, a bond ladder regularly frees up portions of your portfolio. This is especially appealing in a rising interest rate environment as it allows you to take advantage of the higher new rates. Each time you get back the principal from a maturing bond you have the opportunity to reinvest it in one that pays a higher rate.<br /> <br /> But even if rates have fallen as one &ldquo;rung&rdquo; in your ladder approaches maturity, the good news is that, if you choose to reinvest, you will only be reinvesting a fraction of your bond portfolio at the lower rate. Meanwhile, the other bonds in the ladder will continue generating income at the relatively higher older rates. <br /> <br /> This is a much better scenario than having a single bond or bonds with maturities &ldquo;bunched up&rdquo; in one time period, since you may get caught holding a significant cash position if you get back all your principal when reinvesting conditions are less optimal. <br /> <br /> While building a bond ladder may help you to manage interest rate and reinvestment risk to some extent, there are a few important guidelines to consider:<br /> <br /> 1.Do you have an emergency fund and the right temperament?<br /> <br /> Before investing in a bond ladder, it is recommended that you have enough money set aside to meet your short-term needs and deal with emergencies, and you should also have a temperament that will allow you to ride out the ups and downs of the market. That is because many of the benefits of a bond ladder, such as scheduled income and managing interest rates, are based on the idea that you hold your bonds in your portfolio until they mature. If you sell early, either because of a medical emergency or you change your investment plans, you will disrupt your strategy and be exposed to additional risks, including the risks of a capital loss or decreased yield from your ladder.<br /> <br /> 2.The right type of bonds<br /> <br /> Because one of the main purposes of a bond ladder is to provide consistent income over a long period of time, you need to choose bonds that are a good fit for this strategy. <br /> <br /> When a bond is called (redeemed) prior to maturity, its interest payments cease and the principal is returned before you expected it, which alters both your cash flow schedule and the schedule of principal coming due. Therefore it is recommended when building a ladder that you select bonds that don&rsquo;t have a call feature.<br /> <br /> A worse disruption would be if a bond in your ladder were to default, because not only would you lose the income stream but your principal as well! So you may want to consider only higher-quality bonds.<br /> <br /> Having a well-diversified bond ladder does not guarantee that you will avoid a loss, but it can help protect you the way that any diversified portfolio does, by helping to manage the risk of exposure to any single issuer, country, industry, etc.<br /> <br /> 3.Think about time and frequency<br /> <br /> Another important thing to plan carefully when constructing your ladder is the total length of time the ladder will cover and the number of rungs it needs to have, that is, how often the bonds in the ladder are scheduled to mature. <br /> <br /> A ladder with more rungs will require a larger investment, but will provide a greater range of maturities giving you the flexibility to invest in different credit and interest rate environments. The more liquidity an investor needs, the closer together his bond maturities should be.<br /> <br /> Building a bond ladder appeals to many investors, especially retirees, because it can help manage the risks associated with changing interest rates and customise a stream of income. As with any investment strategy, there are advantages and disadvantages, but if you build a strong ladder with the right &lsquo;materials&rsquo;, using the tips I have shared, this strategy could take your portfolio to the next level (pun intended).<br /> <br /> Toni-Ann Neita is assistant vice-president, Personal Financial Planning at Sterling Asset Management. Sterling provides financial advice and instruments in US dollars and other hard currencies to the corporate, individual and institutional investor. For more information please visit our website: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/13509802/247879.jpg Local Business Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:00 AM Joong Supermarket expands to include a home centre http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Joong-Supermarket-expands-to-include-a-home-centre_87035 Family operated Joong Supermarket and Wholesale has been expanded to include a home centre in Portmore, St Catherine.<br /> <br /> The supermarket chain, which first began operation in Morant Bay, St Thomas, expanded its footprint to Stony Hill, St Andrew and Portmore, St Catherine as the company sought to increase market share across the island. <br /> <br /> Having gained knowledge from operating an hardware store beside its St Thomas-based supermarket, the Chung family aims to create another one-stop shop for its customers in St Catherine. The new facility is branded Joong Home Centre. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Portmore being one of the fastest growing cities in Jamaica and seeing that we already had a supermarket here it only made sense to bring the hardware business over as well. In Morant Bay the hardware is also close to the supermarket and we saw it as a good way to co-brand the two businesses,&rdquo; Director Ryan Chung told the Jamaica Observer. <br /> <br /> Portmore, one of the island&rsquo;s most densely populated zones has within the past three decades, successfully provided home ownership opportunities for many Jamaicans. The fast-developing &ldquo;sunshine city&rdquo; is also home to many commercial entities rendering the community almost self-sufficient. <br /> <br /> Despite a significant increase of business ventures in the city over the last five years, market entrants are still finding ways to effectively compete with industry giants. <br /> <br /> Constructed on 3.5 acres of land in New Lands, Portmore, Joong Supermarket has been supplying the community with grocery items for the past 13 years. In addition to the new home centre, the location is also home to Joong Pharmacy.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;When we acquired the property we only knew that we wanted to have a supermarket, the remaining space we weren&rsquo;t sure what we wanted to do with it. It wasn&rsquo;t until about two or three years ago that we decided we wanted to put a Home Centre on the property,&rdquo; Chung told the<br /> <br /> Caribbean Business Report. <br /> <br /> Joong Home Centre had its soft opening during the Christmas period stocking everyday hardware items such as cement, steel and sand as well as items for renovation, d&Atilde;&copy;cor and gardening. The company has since created employment for an additional 14 people, most of whom reside in the surrounding communities, increasing the total number of employees at Joong St Catherine business to 80 people.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are not completely finished as yet, every day we have been bringing in new goods. We do have plans to construct a lumber yard storage for the tiles and we are working to implement light and plumbing displays for the customers,&rdquo; Chung reasoned. <br /> <br /> As for plans to compete with neighbouring hardwares, including construction giant Rapid True Value, &ldquo;We plan to compete with prices and services, just like what we have been doing at our supermarket. We are offering good prices which we expect will overtime result in brand loyalty,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> He added that the company prides itself on good customer service as it believes thata attribute is lacking not just in the construction industry, but right across Jamaica. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I started with such a small number of employees first because I wanted to train them with getting familiar with the items and the usage so that they execute excellent customer service,&rdquo; Chung said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584274/253447_80152_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 3:00 AM Shaw says fiscal results prove soundness of &lsquo;1.5&rsquo; income tax policy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Shaw-says-fiscal-results-prove-soundness-of--1-5--income-tax-policy_87088 Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw says that the country&rsquo;s tax performance so far in 2016/17 proves the soundness of the government&rsquo;s tax policy.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are fully on track with our fiscal targets, based on performance of the budget through December,&rdquo; Shaw told guests at Wednesday night&rsquo;s Mayberry Investments monthly investors&rsquo; forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our primary balance surplus was $76 billion, which was significantly above the target of $54 billion. Our overall revenues and grants were $17.7 billion or five per cent ahead of our target and tax revenues were ahead by $10.1 billion or by 3.3 per cent,&rdquo; he informed the forum.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am pleased to also report that the tax performance bears testimony to the soundness of the &lsquo;1.5&rsquo;,&rdquo; Shaw added, in reference to the administration&rsquo;s decision to increase the personal income tax threshold to $1.5 million in two tranches since being elected to government last February.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;You will recall that, as a first phase, the effective threshold for personal income taxes (or PAYE) was increased from $592,800 to $1 million on July 1, 2016. Despite concerns registered by some, I am happy to report that the taxes from PAYE over-performed by $3.5 billion, or by 7.8 per cent through December,&rdquo; he pointed out.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I should also add that the intake from indirect taxes, which is where we are going, represented by taxes on production and consumption, were also ahead of the budgetary target by 5.3 per cent,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> Shaw also knocked his Opposition counterpart, Dr Peter Phillips, for continuing to criticise the 1.5 plan.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;He having imposed a tax policy of taxes of about $60 billion in his four-year tenure, by the end of our second year, we would have imposed $30 billion in taxes, but we would have given back $30 billion in relief to taxpayers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So in his policy they take and take, in ours we take and give,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> He said that these developments clearly confirm that Government&rsquo;s policy to shift the greater reliance to indirect taxes, and to lower the income tax burden was a sound decision.<br /> <br /> The finance minister said that this showed that a fundamental difference between the two governments was the Jamaica Labour Party&rsquo;s (JLP) understanding of how a market or capitalist economy works.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It works by stimulation,&rdquo; Shaw stated.<br /> <br /> The finance minister was so pleased with the fiscal outcome, he said that he was hoping to do a study on the effect on the economy of giving back to some 250,000 to 300,000 people &ldquo;hard cash in their pockets on a monthly basis&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;What is the multiplier effect of that on the economy, because it isn&rsquo;t helping 250,000 to 300,00 people alone, because they have people they are interacting with: they have helpers, they have gardeners, they have people who rely on that additional purchasing power and that is how you will see the multiplier effect taking place and have a positive effect on the economy,&rdquo; Shaw stated.<br /> <br /> He said that the economic growth momentum is continuing.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Unemployment continues to decline, inflation is at historic lows, and interest rates are trending down supported by prudent fiscal and monetary policies,&rdquo; he stated.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As you will also have observed our efforts to stem the slide of the Jamaican dollar has been successful. We are ahead on our fiscal targets and net international reserves targets for this year and private sector confidence continues to grow as evidenced by the increase in lending to the productive sectors,&rdquo; he noted.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Let me also state that, in our assessment, we expect to meet all the quantitative performance criteria and structural benchmarks under the new Standby Arrangement with the IMF for end-December,&rdquo; he added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584282/253490_80149_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 2:00 AM Kingston Properties buys Spanish Town Road complex http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Kingston-Properties-buys-Spanish-Town-Road-complex_87079 Kingston Properties Limited (KPREIT) this week closed on a new property in Jamaica, a warehouse and office complex located on Spanish Town Road in Kingston. <br /> <br /> The property is leased to operators of manufacturing, distribution and logistics businesses.<br /> <br /> The company said in its announcement that the property is located along a corridor &ldquo;slated for continued infrastructure development which will greatly improve the property&rsquo;s value in the medium term&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> The property is the second added to the real estate management company&rsquo;s portfolio since the start of the year. On January 11, it closed on a mixed-use building in West Bay Beach South in the Cayman Islands.<br /> <br /> The price paid for the properties was not disclosed. However, company CEO Kevin Richards told the Jamaica Observer that the combined cost of both properties is close to the total in loans secured in 2016 for expansion.<br /> <br /> Last year, the company secured US$4.5 million for property acquisition. He said that more purchases are likely during the current year.<br /> <br /> The Spanish Town Road complex represents the third Jamaican property currently held. The company also owns units in a Red Hills Road commercial complex and lands in Waterworks Kingston for development.<br /> <br /> Investment properties for KPREIT totalled $1.93 billion in value as at September 30, 2016. Total company assets stood at $2.19 billion. Most of the properties owned by the real estate investment company are in Florida, USA.<br /> <br /> These include 15 residential condominiums in the Loft II building located at 133 NE 2nd Avenue in downtown Miami &mdash; comprising 12,380 square feet. A 19-unit apartment complex purchased in 2014 was sold at the end of the prior year.<br /> <br /> In NE 1st Avenue in Miami, the company also has five residential condominiums, comprising 5,213 square feet, which were purchased in September 2015.<br /> <br /> In Fort Lauderdale, KPL owns four residential condominiums &mdash; comprising 4,174 square feet and purchased in October 2015 &mdash; located at 3101 Bayshore, and another three residential condominiums located at 1750 North Bayshore Drive.<br /> <br /> For the nine months to September 2016, group rental income was $99.6 million &mdash; 28 per cent better than the $78.1 million in 2015. Approximately 61 per cent of the group&rsquo;s rental revenue was generated in the US and the balance in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> For the reporting period, the company posted profit after tax and comprehensive income of $131.1 million and $180.0 million, respectively. <br /> <br /> Earnings per stock unit was $1.09, compared with $0.49 for the same period last year, while the return on average shareholders&rsquo; equity was 14 per cent (September 2015: 3 per cent).<br /> <br /> Listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, the stock traded at $9 per unit on Wednesday, January 18. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12878856/197392__w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 12:00 AM Jamaica to host major international tourism conference http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Jamaica-to-host-major-international-tourism-conference_86824 Jamaica&rsquo;s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett signed an agreement on Monday at the Palacio Neptuno in Spain to host a major global conference to commemorate the 2017 United Nations World Tourism Organization&rsquo;s (UNWTO) International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.<br /> <br /> The event, which is a collaborative effort between the Government of Jamaica, international development firm Chemonics International and the UNWTO, will be staged from November 27 to 29 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.<br /> <br /> Speaking during the historic signing ceremony, Bartlett said he was honoured to have participated on behalf of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, to concretise arrangements to host such a prestigious event in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This signing will see an international conference of great magnitude and importance to global tourism, being hosted in Jamaica. We look forward to showcasing our destination but more so within the context of sustainability and the building of public-private-partnerships,&rdquo; the minister said.<br /> <br /> Secretary General of the UNWTO Taleb Rifai said that the conference will kick-start discussions to create on-the-ground activities to develop tourism across the globe from such partnerships.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We keep talking about the need for public-private-partnerships, but we fail to translate that &lsquo;on-the-ground&rsquo; in any effective manner. Minister Bartlett together with Ibrahim Osta, Chief of Party for Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism at Chemonics International, will cooperate in making and designing this very important meeting in Jamaica towards the end of this year,&rdquo; Rifai said.<br /> <br /> The agreement marks the first time that the UNWTO will stage a world conference on tourism in the Caribbean or the Americas.<br /> <br /> Bartlett, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Affiliate Members of the UNWTO, described the event as a very unique opportunity. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica is a part of the Caribbean archipelago of states which is the most tourism-dependent region on earth. It means therefore, that to be positioned to invite the world to see us in the practice of sustainability tendencies, embracing best practices, and showcasing how we have been able to manage, and grow and build the economic well-being of our people is something that for us is a once in a lifetime opportunity,&rdquo; he stated.<br /> <br /> Two of the expected deliverables from this conference will be an Outcome Declaration and the publication of the second UNWTO Affiliate Members Global Report on Public-Private-Partnerships. <br /> <br /> The UNWTO will also present a report to the UN General Assembly in 2018, with regards to the activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, of which the conference will play a major role.<br /> <br /> At a meeting prior to the signing, Minister Bartlett highlighted the great strides Jamaica has made in forming public-private-partnerships in the spirit of sustainable tourism for development, through the Tourism Linkages Network model and financial support provided specifically for Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs).<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Tourism is the fastest way to transfer money from the rich to the poor. We can certainly do this effectively through our linkages initiatives,&rdquo; the minister commented. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584193/253064_80091_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 12:00 AM Understanding the root cause of our challenges http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Understanding-the-root-cause-of-our-challenges_87069 I have often wondered why we Jamaicans have always been able to recognise our problems but we have never been able to solve them. <br /> <br /> We constantly pile up study after study, we form multiple commissions to examine the same problem year after year, with maybe a different title and a new set &mdash; or a new generation &mdash; of people. And so we go along our merry way, having the same problems in 2016 that we had in 1962. <br /> <br /> Because we are a &ldquo;bright&rdquo; and creative people, we always seem to articulate the same problem very well in different ways. The result is that we never recognise what the fundamental cause of our problem is, because we somehow always focus on the symptoms, which we articulate so well.<br /> <br /> So after numerous Commissions of Inquiry and piles of commentary and reports on what our problems are, we still face the same challenges year after year, disguised in different suits.<br /> <br /> One such criticism that is now in vogue is the ineffectiveness of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) at solving crime. And I would be the very first to admit that the JCF has significant challenges, and has arguably had a leadership deficit over the decades, as no one person can be held accountable for the current state of affairs. It is also true that no one political party can be held accountable for our economic and social challenges, as they have both made unwise decisions over the years, not only as Government or Opposition, but also as Parliamentarians and representatives of the people.<br /> <br /> The JCF, therefore, can be seen as the driver of a car that is in a race and going at 50 mph, while everyone else is going at 80 mph (globally). The car is not performing at optimum capacity because it has not been serviced, it has very old tyres, and it is sputtering because it has been filled with &ldquo;bad gas&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> People look on and say the driver is not the best, and he/she needs to be replaced because the race is being lost. All this time there is no realisation that if you change the driver, even though he/she may have some clear deficiencies, it will not make the car go any faster. And in fact one cannot do a proper assessment of the driver&rsquo;s ability if the car is in such a poor condition. <br /> <br /> Similarly, it is always very easy for us to blame the JCF for the high levels of crime in the society, because they are the most visible part of the justice system. But we fail to recognise that the justice system, and I should say the law and order environment, is much more than the JCF. In fact, the JCF often intervenes when everything else in the chain of that system has failed. <br /> <br /> So the policeman is not there to prevent crime, but rather to arrest it. Therefore, shouldn&rsquo;t the emphasis and discussion be around crime prevention, and hence what sort of system needs to be in place to achieve this? <br /> <br /> In my view, it makes more sense to do what is necessary to prevent crime than to put all our resources into solving it, because by then you would have already had a victim. This approach would also place less stress on the JCF and would allow them more opportunities to solve crime, and would also allow us a fairer chance to assess their performance.<br /> <br /> One example is the derelict traffic ticketing system and Road Traffic legislation we have in place.<br /> <br /> I have been able to get information from the JCF that between the period November 2010 and April 2016, 45 people in the Corporate Area and St Catherine had more than 500 outstanding tickets each. The total number of outstanding tickets for these 45 persons was an unbelievable 30,757, or an average of 683 tickets per person. And this doesn&rsquo;t include drivers with less than 500 tickets outstanding.<br /> <br /> To drive the point home even further, an example was given of one person who the ticketing system showed was issued 117 tickets of which 103 remained outstanding. After being arrested he was taken to court, where 78 warrants for disobedience of the summonses were issued and he was fined $90,000 for 78 tickets. He had another 22 matters outstanding, and the next day was fined $25,000 for 9 matters. On that same day I am told that he was committing the same offences for which he was brought to the court. <br /> <br /> The result, the police say, is that his behaviour is now mimicked by most of the other illegal operators, as all the passengers want to take his car because of how quickly he gets them to their destination.<br /> <br /> This example shows that there is a problem with legislation, as the long delay in passing the Road Traffic Act causes uncertainty in fines, and ties the judge&rsquo;s hands as to whether to suspend the licence or seize the car. The passengers also contribute to the lawlessness because they know the man is an illegal operator and that he breaks the speed limit, but they gravitate towards him. It has also resulted in everyone now behaving in that manner because that is what the customer demands. <br /> <br /> The result is that we have an accepted chaotic transportation system overrun by illegal operators and a sympathetic public. <br /> <br /> We then say to the police,&rdquo;Why are you not solving this problem?&rdquo; We might as well just ask them, &ldquo;Why aren&rsquo;t you able to carry water in a basket?&rdquo; The Parliament fails to provide the proper legislative framework and resources (as the ticketing system does not link the various arms of the justice system and tax system), the police are asked to work in very unfavourable conditions, and the public is supporting lawlessness. <br /> <br /> At the end of the day, however, some politician will go on a platform and say the Government is not solving crime, the Government and people will say the police are inefficient, and we will call for a commission of inquiry, create another report, and still have the same challenges we have had for the past 40 or more years. And in the end we will be no better able to properly assess the effectiveness of the JCF, although we may end up implementing some changes when we really don&rsquo;t know how effective they will be.<br /> <br /> Dennis Chung is the author of Charting Jamaica&rsquo;s Economic and Social Development AND Achieving Life&rsquo;s Equilibrium. His blog is dcjottings.blogspot.com.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584087/253446_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 12:00 AM PHOTO: Educentres http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Educentres_87066 East Kingston Member of Parliament, Phillip Paulwell (left), engages Rose-Marie Campbell, Operations Manager of EduCentres, while its Executive Director Richard Shaw watches, during the company&rsquo;s year-end party at its Gore Business Centre, Upper Waterloo Road offices last month. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584561/252593_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 2:00 AM Cubans bemoan end of &lsquo;wet foot, dry foot&rsquo; immigration policy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Cubans-bemoan-end-of--wet-foot--dry-foot--immigration-policy_86930 MIAMI, United States (AP) &mdash; In a hotel room in suburban Miami, Luis Alberto Rodriguez wept when he heard that a government policy granting residency to Cubans who arrive on US soil was ending. That means it could take two years or more before his wife and two children still in Cuba can legally join him here.<br /> <br /> Rodriguez arrived in Laredo, Texas, on New Year&rsquo;s Eve, a journey that took him through 10 countries. He had hoped his family would be able to follow shortly afterward, maybe flying to Mexico before walking across the border under the &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy that sent back Cubans intercepted at sea but gave those who reached land an automatic path to legal residency.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It was exhilarating finally making it onto US soil, and then a whirlwind of emotions days later,&rdquo; when news came that the policy would end, Rodriguez said. &ldquo;It was such a shock... I don&rsquo;t know when I will see them. &ldquo;<br /> <br /> Last week Thursday, a little more than two years after Cuba and the US began re-establishing diplomatic relations, President Barack Obama decided to end the &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy, moving yet another step closer to normalising ties that had been frozen for nearly a half-century. <br /> <br /> The change forces Cubans to follow the same rules as immigrants from other countries, formally applying for legal immigration status and waiting their turn behind a long list of people who applied before them.<br /> <br /> Cuban leaders were not the only ones irritated by the &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy. It also rankled an increasing number of US elected officials, who accused some Cuban immigrants of abusing their privileges by claiming benefits under federal aid programmes even if they returned to Cuba to live. Millions of US dollars were defrauded from Medicare that way, they said.<br /> <br /> Cubans&rsquo; special status also angered immigrants from other countries, including those who felt they faced the same kinds of political challenges at home that Cubans had faced under the late Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro. Moreover, they said, many Cubans, particularly in recent years, went to the US primarily for economic opportunities, not because of persecution.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;For the longest time, Cubans have had all the privileges here,&rdquo; said Honduran immigrant Mario Hernandez as he walked outside a busy bookstore in Miami with his wife, daughter and grandchildren. Some Cubans have become millionaires, Hernandez said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;No one enjoys as many advantages. But hopefully there will be no more of that.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Haitian community leaders unsuccessfully lobbied the US government for years to extend a similar &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; to Haitian migrants fleeing poverty and political persecution. <br /> <br /> While both groups made perilous journeys to Florida in rafts and rickety boats, risking possible death or capture by the US Coast Guard, the Cubans who made it to land were assured of a warm welcome. Haitians, on the other hand, had to go straight into hiding &mdash; if they weren&rsquo;t caught and detained first.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Now the boat we&rsquo;re in is getting tighter, because now our Cuban brothers and sisters are getting into the same boat,&rdquo; said Haitian-American community organiser Sandy Dorsainvil.<br /> <br /> Cuban immigrant Rodriguez said he&rsquo;s resigned to wait for his family to navigate the backlog of US immigration applications rather than have them risk deportation or even death if they try to follow him into the country illegally.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want them to risk their lives in any way,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Immigration advocates, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Service Employees International Union officials said the Obama administration&rsquo;s decision to end &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; was disappointing and would only serve to make all immigrants more vulnerable.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Now they&rsquo;re going to add to the rolls of the undocumented, and that&rsquo;s not good for them and not good for our community,&rdquo; said Randy McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Charities Legal Services.<br /> <br /> In the Florida Keys, law enforcement officials said they expect to encounter fewer Cuban migrants now that there&rsquo;s no immediate benefit to reaching land. And Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Cubans who do attempt landing in the island chain may start treating his deputies differently.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Once they made it to land, it was open arms and smiles and taking pictures,&rdquo; Ramsay said. &ldquo;They were different from migrants from other foreign countries who, when they hit the shore, the first thing they want to do is vanish into society. They&rsquo;d see a patrol vehicle and they&rsquo;d try to run, flee and hide.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> A surge in Cuban migrants &mdash; fearing the end of the US policy &mdash; began in December 2014, when Washington and Havana began re-establishing diplomatic relations. The exodus created problems in Central America, and the Coast Guard increased its patrols in the Florida Straits, Atlantic and Caribbean because of the spiking number of Cubans taking to the sea.<br /> <br /> Nearly 200 Cubans have come ashore just in the Keys since Fidel Castro&rsquo;s death on November 25. As of Monday, 1,893 have attempted to reach US soil by sea since the fiscal year began October 1, according to Coast Guard figures. <br /> <br /> More than 7,400 Cubans were intercepted at sea in the one-year period that ended September 30 &mdash; a 60 per cent increase from the 4,473 tallied the previous year. The number who made it ashore without alerting authorities or who died at sea is unknown.<br /> <br /> Rodriguez is worried about Cubans who started out when the &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy was still in effect and are now stranded at sea, in Central America or still waiting to leave Cuba after selling their belongings to pay for their journeys.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All our brothers who are still traveling through land and waters, hoping to make their lives better, I feel saddened that they will not make it,&rdquo; he said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584154/253160_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 2:00 AM Cubans cheer end of US &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Cubans-cheer-end-of-US--wet-foot--dry-foot--policy_86941 HAVANA, Cuba (Xinhua) &mdash; Cubans welcomed last Friday a White House decision to scrap the so-called &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; US immigration policy, which incited some to risk dangerous crossings into the US by water.<br /> <br /> On the streets of Havana, locals talked about the new measure, which is expected to promote orderly, safe and legal migration by eliminating special treatment for Cuban citizens when they illegally landed in US territory.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Over the years it was a very unfair law, because many Cubans died at sea and created many inconveniences for Cuba. It was a very good decision to eliminate that policy,&rdquo; state worker Lazaro Barcaza told Xinhua.<br /> <br /> Outgoing US President Barack Obama said last week Thursday that the United States is ending this special immigration policy that granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the United States without visas.<br /> <br /> Cubans also feel that the new step implies a commitment on both sides to promote orderly imigration to the United States, due to its geographical proximity and the large number of Cubans currently there.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have long been waiting for that measure and it is a good step to re-establish and improve immigration ties with the United States,&rdquo; retiree Jose Cabrera, 77, said.<br /> <br /> In place since 1995, the &ldquo;wet foot, dry foot&rdquo; policy allowed Cubans who succeeded in stepping foot on US soil &mdash; often following hazardous journeys aboard rickety boats &mdash; to remain in the country and apply for permanent residency.<br /> <br /> Cuba has been calling for an end to the policy since 2002, but that was rejected by then-president George W Bush.<br /> <br /> After almost a year of negotiations with the Obama administration, the two governments reached a deal to end the polemic policy earlier this week.<br /> <br /> Since formal diplomatic relations were restored in July of 2015, agreements in security, energy, air transportation, environment, commerce and tourism have been signed between the two countries.<br /> <br /> However, there is no guarantee that the next US president Donald Trump will not override them.<br /> <br /> Last week Thursday, Obama also said in a statement that the US Department of Homeland Security was ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, a policy seen as aiming at luring skilled Cuban health professionals to the United States.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It was a law that was detrimental to Cuba&rsquo;s health resources, which are a valuable resource,&rdquo; 43-year-old doctor Angel Trimino said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584155/253177_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, January 20, 2017 12:00 AM Derrimon delays share buy for takeover offer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Derrimon-delays-share-buy-for-takeover-offer_86865 Derrimon Trading Ltd (DTL) has issued a takeover offer for the remaining shares in Caribbean Flavours and Fragrances (CFF), advising that it has delayed final payment for shares of the company founders &mdash; a previously announced transaction &mdash; in order not to &ldquo;upset the market&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Further, DTL indicates that it does not expect its offer to be taken up by anyone but the principals of the company, Anand James and his wife Dr Joan James, who are reselling all of their remaining shares en bloc. <br /> <br /> DTL, which was already owner of 49 per cent of shares in the company, will purchase by deed an additional 23,379,208 stock units, or 26 per cent of CFF, from the Jameses.<br /> <br /> The transaction, announced in December 2016, triggered takeover proceedings. The offer to shareholders is $4.50 per share, the same as that made to the company&rsquo;s founders.<br /> <br /> DTL outlines in the offer circular posted via the Jamaica Stock Exchange, that James and his wife agreed to sell Derrimon their remaining shares in CFF at a price of $4.50 per unit, by agreement in 2016.<br /> <br /> It is also noted that the company principals were given a prepayment on December 21, 2016, pursuant to the deed executed, of $105.21 million &mdash; translating to the price of $4.50 per stock unit.<br /> <br /> DTL explained in its offer circular, &ldquo;That transaction has not yet been completed because the Jameses&rsquo; shares have not been transferred to us as yet.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> The company said that for purposes of transparency the transaction would be delayed and become part of the takeover proceedings.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As at January 13, 2017, the shares are now trading at $11.80 per share on the JSE&rsquo;s Junior Market. If we had completed the purchase of the Jameses&rsquo; shares across the Stock Exchange at the agreed price of $4.50, it would in our view have destabilised materially the market in the shares, and given a false or misleading appearance with respect to the price of the shares,&rdquo; DTL stated.<br /> <br /> The circular added, &ldquo; It could have also meant that we could lose some of the Jameses&rsquo; shares in the course of the &lsquo;crossing&rsquo; of the shares over the market.&rdquo; DTL said it will close with the Jameses by way of the takeover bid, guided by the advice of their attorneys.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;After taking professional advice on the matter, that drew our attention to the principles set out in the Securities (Takeovers and Mergers) Regulations, 1999 (&ldquo;the Jamaican Takeover Code&rdquo;), and Part 6 (Takeovers, Mergers and Amalgamations) of the Junior Market Rules, particularly our duty to take such steps as are necessary to prevent the creation of a false market in the shares, we have determined that the most effective way of completing the purchase of the Jameses&rsquo; shares is by way of a takeover bid.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> DTL added that the choice of proceedings, &ldquo;by its very nature: (i) is open and transparent; (ii) allows background information to be given to shareholders of CFF so that they can &ldquo;understand the special nature of the transaction; and (iii) will facilitate the transfer of the Jameses&rsquo; shares by way of a block transaction without affecting the trading price on the Jamaica Stock Exchange&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The circular asserted that the Jameses have agreed to accept the Offer in the Offer Circular.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Accordingly, it will be seen that the real reason for this takeover is to acquire the Jameses&rsquo; shares in a manner which will not disrupt the market in the shares,&rdquo; DTL said.<br /> <br /> It was stated that if other shareholders accept this bid, DTL will be obliged to take up and pay for their tendered shares at the Offer Price of $4.50. It was however noted that as shares are trading at $11.80, &ldquo;it is not our expectation that other shareholders will tender shares in response to this bid&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> DTL distributes dry and frozen bulk commodities. Derrimon also distributes branded products on behalf of Nestl&Atilde;&copy; SA, and operates a retail division - six Sampars Cash and Carry Outlets. <br /> <br /> For the financial year ending 31 December 2015, Derrimon recorded revenues of $6.29 billion. Listed on the Junior Market of the JSE, effective December 17, 2013, its market capitalisation was $1.53 billion as at December 31.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Avia Collinder http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578842/253061_79826_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM Inflation at 45-year low http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Inflation-at-45-year-low_86779 THE Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has reported that Jamaica&rsquo;s inflation rate remains at a record low level, and was 1.7 per cent at the end of December.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s the lowest inflation rate the country has seen in more than 45 years. According to the website Trading Economics, which analyses economic data from more than 196 countries, the inflation rate in Jamaica has averaged 9.79 per cent from 2002 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 26.49 per cent in August 2008 and a record low of 1.60 per cent in November 2016.<br /> <br /> STATIN, in a release yesterday, said the downward trend in inflation was led by a 0.3 per cent increase in the All Jamaica All Divisions Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December 2016.<br /> <br /> The most important category in the CPI is food and non-alcoholic beverages, which accounted for 37.4 per cent of total weight. For the month of December, food and non-alcoholic beverages moved up by 0.4 per cent, mainly due to the class of vegetables and starchy foods which increased 0.8 per cent.<br /> <br /> However, the main contributor to the increase in CPI for the month under review was housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels which increased by 0.8 per cent, primarily due to increased electricity, water and sewage rates, according to STATIN.<br /> <br /> The division recording the lowest movement was transport, which was the only division to register a decline, moving down by 0.5 per cent as a result of lower fuel prices on the local market. <br /> <br /> The fiscal year-to-date movement was 3.1 per cent as at December 2016. <br /> <br /> The other divisions that recorded increases in the All Jamaica All Divisions index were alcoholic beverages and tobacco, 0.1 per cent; clothing and footwear, 0.1 per cent; furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance, 0.1 per cent; health, 0.4 per cent; restaurants and accommodation services, 0.1 per cent; and miscellaneous goods and services, 0.4 per cent. <br /> <br /> The divisions recreation and culture, education and communication each recorded negligible movement in their index. <br /> <br /> The regional index showed upward movements for all three regions &mdash; Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area, up by 0.4 per cent; other urban areas up by 0.3 per cent; and rural areas up by 0.2 per cent, according to STATIN. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578852/253065_79830_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM Business and consumers enjoy longest ever period of economic optimism http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Business-and-consumers-enjoy-longest-ever-period-of-economic-optimism_86804 Economic confidence among Jamaican firms has increased to an index of 142.0 for the fourth quarter of 2016, up from 139.2 experienced a quarter earlier.<br /> <br /> Concurrently, consumers, though experiencing a slight dip in confidence from a record high level during the second quarter of 2016, have voiced sustained optimism in the outlook for the economy and income expectations.<br /> <br /> The increase in business confidence indicates that Jamaica remains at record high levels for all four quarters 2016 than at any time over the last 15 years, according to just released data from the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC). The country peaked in the first quarter of 2016 when business confidence stood at an index of 144.6. <br /> <br /> Managing director of Market Research Services Don Anderson, in summarising the report of the JCC Conference Board, stated that for 2016 as a whole, the business confidence index averaged 141.9, marking the third annual gain since 2013 when the country recorded an index of 94.7. <br /> <br /> He added that 65 per cent of all firms have indicated that it is a good time to expand their productive capacity to take advantage of future economic opportunities. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Optimism is a necessary condition for business expansion and when accompanied by renewed economic stability, firms become even more willing to engage in a sustained programme of new investments. While there have been bursts of optimism in the past few decades, these surveys have never before recorded as long nor as high a sustained period of economic optimism,&rdquo; the JCC noted in its report. <br /> <br /> The recent increase in business confidence was attributable to the steadfast commitment of new Government policies and programmes which have assisted in producing renewed economic growth. <br /> <br /> Anderson warned, however, that crime and violence as well as legal, regulatory and social impediments must be lessened to ensure successful economic development. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Businesses are extremely concerned about the likely impact of crime and violence on sustainability. This factor could impact growth rate and if this is not contained then for sure it is going to impact trade with other countries and business development because these companies would not be able to efficiently market their services in an environment where crime and violence predominates,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> During the quarter under review, 53 per cent of firms expected an improved economy, up from 49 per cent in the third quarter of 2016. When asked to assess their firm&rsquo;s financial prospects, 70 per cent of all firms expected gains in the year ahead throughout all four quarters of 2016. Profits were also expected to improve by 70 per cent of all firms in the fourth quarter 2016 survey, just below the second quarter&rsquo;s all-time peak of 74 per cent.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the consumer confidence index showed sustained optimism with an index of 151.6 in the third and fourth quarters of 2016, barely below the overall average of 151.7 for 2016. <br /> <br /> The movement in the index represented a significant change from a year ago as the average level in 2016 was 33 per cent higher than the 114.2 recorded in 2015. Anderson noted that the surge and subsequent increase in economic optimism by consumers stand in sharp contrast to two prior one-quarter surges in confidence recorded in 2007 and 2012. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;In those prior instances, expected economic gains from the new economic policies were quickly overwhelmed by domestic and international forces. While consumers may have overestimated the pace at which the economy and job prospects would improve, they still anticipate future gains,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> He added that while most observers will count only those gains measured in dollars and cents, Jamaicans have judged the quality of their lives at the most favourable level in the past 15 years. Similarly, consumers voiced very positive assessments of recent economic progress and anticipated favourable economic prospects during 2016. <br /> <br /> The JCC reported that while consumers became slightly less optimistic about job gains in the closing quarter of 2016, just under half of all households or 49 per cent anticipated income gains in the fourth quarter of 2016 while eight per cent anticipated income declines. <br /> <br /> Lowering of the inflation rate and increased receipt of remittances played an important role in cushioning the effects of the decline in job gains, thus boosting confidence for a change in income and improved living standards. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The data gathered shows that more people are receiving remittances from overseas and are receiving in larger amounts. This has helped to cushion some of the challenges consumers have,&rdquo; the JCC said. <br /> <br /> Nonetheless, consumers&rsquo; home and vehicle buying plans declined from last quarter but remained more favourable than a year ago while planned vacation were unchanged from last quarter and remained at the most favourable level ever recorded, the JCC said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578853/253091_79831_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM More than 300 jobs in the pipeline for Popeyes and Little Caesars http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/More-than-300-jobs-in-the-pipeline-for-Popeyes-and-Little-Caesars_86837 Richard Lake, Chief Executive Officer of Restaurant Associates, says plans are underway for the opening of 10 Popeyes and Little Caesars pizza franchises across Jamaica by year end. <br /> <br /> Lake, who was speaking at the official opening of the Little Caesars and Popeyes franchise in Manor Centre, St Andrew, on Monday, said the expansion is expected to bring employment to an additional 300 Jamaicans. <br /> <br /> Based in Michigan, United States, Little Caesars opening in Manor Centre marks the first operation for the restaurant in Jamaica. Known for its Hot-N-Ready concept, the pizza franchise will compete against Pizza Hut and Domino&rsquo;s. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are very pleased to bring the Little Caesars pizza franchise to Jamaica and its Hot-N-Ready concept. It&rsquo;s really something that has taken on very well,&rdquo; Lake told the audience. <br /> <br /> He added that in addition to the opening of the two restaurant franchises, Restaurant Associates, which operates Burger King, Popeyes and Little Caesars, will be opening an academy to boost both the educational and lifetime skills of its employees. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We must recognise that Jamaica does have a problem in that too many of our graduates are unable to pass the proficiency tests that we require at our restaurants. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;But we are not sitting by; we are doing something about it. I&rsquo;m also recommending that the Government provide private sector businesses with incentives to improve and increase the level of training for their staff because education is the only pathway to an improved life, prosperity and growth,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> Currently, Restaurant Associates operates three Popeyes locations, two of which are located in Kingston in Cross Roads and on Constant Spring Road, and another in Portmore, St Catherine. The expansion of the restaurant should bring a second Constant Spring branch, one in Savanna-La-Mar and another Portmore outlet.<br /> <br /> The company hopes that the Hot-N-Ready concept of Little Caesars in addition to co-branding it with Popeyes at the Manor Park branch, will assist in replicating the success of the restaurant chain in the United States. <br /> <br /> From the Hot-N-Ready offering, customers are expected to benefit from no calling, no waiting and no lines.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Karena Bennett http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578832/253053_79823_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM JWN invests US$6 million in new eco-system http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/JWN-invests-US-6-million-in-new-eco-system_86866 Spirits manufacturer, J Wray & Nephew Limited (JWN), has invested a total of US$6 million ($771 million) on what it dubs as an eco-system. <br /> <br /> The company, which operates from 234 Spanish Town Road, will today give Prime Minister Andrew Holness a tour of its newly established state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility; an industry-leading solid waste recycling facility; and a 500KW photovoltaic system. <br /> <br /> The investments were unveiled by Gruppo Campari&rsquo;s CEO, Bob Kunze-Concewitz. <br /> <br /> Also to be unveiled during the tour is the photovoltaic system that currently generates over 50,000kwH per month which has resulted in significant energy cost savings to J Wray and Nephew&rsquo;s operation. <br /> <br /> The company&rsquo;s solid waste recycling plant repurposes over 700 tonnes of waste per year, including cardboard, glass and plastic, from the manufacturing process. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578854/253087_79832_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM ASYCUDA World &mdash; Reforming Jamaica Customs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/ASYCUDA-World---Reforming-Jamaica-Customs_86846 The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has re-engineered its business and operating processes towards achieving greater efficiency, with the full implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA World, at its various locations at the start of the 2016/17 fiscal year. <br /> <br /> WHAT IS ASYCUDA WORLD? <br /> <br /> ASYCUDA is a web-based application that allows clients of the JCA, including Customs brokers and shipping agents, to undertake e-transactions such as the submission of manifests, declarations, payments, and documents. <br /> <br /> ASYCUDA was designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), aimed at assisting with Customs reform. <br /> <br /> ASYCUDA is the leading system for Customs modernisation worldwide, with ASYCUDA World being the latest version. <br /> <br /> The primary purpose of ASYCUDA is to help countries facilitate trade by strengthening the capacity of Customs administrations to carry out their operations more effectively. <br /> <br /> ASYCUDA accelerates Customs clearance and simplifies procedures through computerisation. <br /> <br /> HOW DOES IT IMPACT OPERATIONS? <br /> <br /> The implementation of ASYCUDA World is in keeping with the strategy of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to engender greater efficiency and high performance among public sector entities. <br /> <br /> For instance, the system provides the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) with direct and real-time electronic access to data on imports and exports, trans-shipment and other areas, thus significantly reducing or altogether eliminating the need for the entity to manually peruse documents covering these areas.<br /> <br /> This technology-driven system simplifies and standardises procedures for customers, reduces waiting time, provides more accurate and consistent tax calculations, and addresses revenue leakage, through enhanced system controls and accountability. <br /> <br /> WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? <br /> <br /> Prior to ASYCUDA World, importers and brokers were required to physically submit paper-based documentation for processing. <br /> <br /> With the implementation of this system, stakeholders can make electronic submissions of their declarations and other supporting documents. This has resulted in significant reduction in costs for the agency and our clients. <br /> <br /> Some of the bnefits include: <br /> <br /> o Comprehensive review of business processes in order to simplify procedures for customers by removing bureaucratic processes and bottlenecks where possible. <br /> <br /> o Reduction of waiting time for commercial importation due to removal of hardcopy requirements. o Provision of more accurate and consistent tax calculations. <br /> <br /> o Automated control of trade agreements through validation of allowable commodities. o Integration of Customs with other trade regulatory agencies. Reduces time for documentary review, thereby expediting declaration processing. <br /> <br /> o Improvement of &lsquo;Business to Business&rsquo; (B2B) logistics through the Port Community System (PCS) as ASYCUDA will be tightly integrated with the PCS allowing for efficient logistics management. <br /> <br /> o More efficient and speedier preparation of large declarations with multiple items by the brokers. <br /> <br /> o Reduction in travelling costs to clients, as a significant number of commercial declarations processed do not need the broker and/or importer to visit Customs House as before; the declaration is submitted and paid online. <br /> <br /> o Efficiency gained from automatic write-off of permits/ licences through integration with the e-Trade system. <br /> <br /> o Better integration with Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) through data sharing and validation. <br /> <br /> HOW IS ASYCUDA FUNDED? <br /> <br /> The project is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank. For queries about the project, or for assistance with the system, our clients are invited to contact the JCA at 750-3030 or 922-5140-8. You may also e-mail public.relations@ jacustoms.gov.jm. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13578847/253073_79801_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:00 AM