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 Why has Paulwell really gone silent on rare earth minerals? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Why-has-Paulwell-really-gone-silent-on-rare-earth-minerals-_17986646 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is not unusual for politicians to exaggerate their policies. However, if these policies fail to materialise, the people deserve to know why.<br /> <br /> Phillip Paulwell boldly declared that the discovery of rare earth minerals in Jamaica could be a possible game-changer for the economy. The Government even embarked on a partnership with a Japanese company. But Paulwell failed to explain the global context in which the industry operates.<br /> <br /> They may be called rare, but rare earth minerals have been produced in several countries, including India, and Jamaica does not have a competitive advantage in the production of rare earth minerals.<br /> <br /> They may be called rare, but rare earth minerals have been produced in several countries, including India, and Jamaica does not have a competitive advantage in the production of rare earth minerals.<br /> <br /> After China restricted exports in 2010, it was anticipated that prices would go up due to scarcity. This was a major reason for Japan to find sources outside of China. Due to the anticipation of higher prices, in the aftermath of China's decision, other countries decided to tap into the industry. For example, Molycorp and Australia's Lynas Corporation ramped up investments and created new processing facilities. But with increasing competition, supply exceeded demand and prices plummeted. China's market share now stands at 70 per cent.<br /> <br /> These elements are not really rare. However, the process to extract, refine and process them requires a significant investment. Phillip Paulwell should tell the people of Jamaica the truth, he oversold the project and the reality is that we do not have the resources to develop this industry without foreign expertise.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Why has Paulwell really gone silent on rare earth minerals?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11247909/Phillip-Paulwell_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:00 AM Looking forward to one bill http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Looking-forward-to-one-bill_18008800 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I, like many Jamaicans, was caught off guard by the recent announcement that my cable provider Flow has been acquired by Cable and Wireless (CWC), parent company of LIME. I still remember the CWC days -- long waits, bad service and high costs -- and so, like many of you, responded negatively, to put it nicely.<br /> <br /> However, having calmed down and caught my breath, I paused to think. When Digicel entered the market there was renewed energy from competition between the giants. This competition saw advertisements on heavy rotation, lots of promotions and discounts for consumers, and a drive to compete on customer service. Everything was about the customer.<br /> <br /> In recent years, I have witnessed a slow decline in service from Flow, LIME and Digicel. While the price war is in full swing with LIME and Digicel on cellphone and landline rates this fight hasn't made its way to data costs. The Government and studies have told us about the correlation between access to broadband and GDP growth. Broadband, more than cellphones, provides a platform for innovation, economic growth and job creation. According to the World Bank, broadband can also positively impact workforce productivity, and we know by now how quickly children adjust to technology as it is an effective vehicle for education. So this 'merger' may place some much-needed attention on the issues of broadband access, price and value.<br /> <br /> Cable is another area that I am hoping to see a positive change in as a result of this merger. Flow has certainly not reduced its cable costs in recent times, even as it has shrunk its line-up removing all the West Coast fees. It is my sincere wish that this merger will see an expansion in the line-up, possibly more local and Caribbean content and cool innovations that allow me to watch my favourite movies on my mobile devices.<br /> <br /> With Flow and LIME topping the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) survey for the customer service category, I would hope and expect to see the Jamaican public benefit from a whole new level of service and indeed see the customer being placed at the heart of the business.<br /> <br /> If they can do this, and offer streamlined billing, and I only have to worry about paying one bill for my cellphone, home phone, cable, and Internet at the end of the month this customer will hail the merger as indeed being better value for the consumer and the country.<br /> <br /> Rory Haynes<br /> <br /> St Catherine<br /> <br /> Looking forward to one bill<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11276709/bills_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:00 AM NHT could have built 105 more houses http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/NHT-could-have-built-105-more-houses_18008910 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is obvious that the National Housing Trust (NHT) is monetary rich, because it has $180 million for the purchase of land, $44 million to help the budget, and now $250 million to repair infirmaries; totalling $474 million.<br /> <br /> Could Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and the NHT use some money to build houses in decent areas for $4.5 million so people can really afford to own a home?<br /> <br /> Simple maths: $474 million could build 105 houses. And I am sure you would see a lot of smiles on people's faces and hope along the way.<br /> <br /> I am one such Jamaican who has been begging for a house and I have been paying into the NHT 'tax' and I cannot own a home.<br /> <br /> Please let me smile and have hope, Madam Prime Minister and NHT.<br /> <br /> Tony<br /> <br /> an2mouth@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> NHT could have built 105 more houses<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11235681/NHT-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:00 AM Little-White, Gov't had good intentions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Little-White--Gov-t-had-good-intentions_18008831 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It has been said that success requires no explanation and failure accepts no alibi. This comes to mind in relation to the current Outameni "scandal", even before Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's anticipated, post-Cabinet announcement on the fate of the remainder of the Easton Douglas-chaired National Housing Trust (NHT) board.<br /> <br /> The truth is that good and even pure intentions can easily be sincerely attributed to all primary and secondary players in the Outameni saga; among them former Prime Minister Bruce Golding and other Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) players, former Outameni property owner Lennie Little-White, owner of the related intellectual property in Canada, Easton Douglas, Prime Minister Simpson Miller.<br /> <br /> Hence, there has not been much sustainable traction for the understandable JLP-inspired charge of cronyism. This because any objective observer can recognise that the Outameni project is a venture worth preserving, if possible, and if it could be made to succeed.<br /> <br /> No well-thinking member of the public, Government, or Opposition would want the project or Little-White to fail permanently, especially after all the honest effort he has put into the project.<br /> <br /> Nor should we hold it against him too long for desperately throwing into the mix the "black man/brown man" red herring, which also gained little or no traction.<br /> <br /> Under the circumstances, the PM and her Cabinet colleagues might very well attempt to simply "patch-up" or name additions/replacements to the NHT board and proceed with "business as usual".<br /> <br /> Notwithstanding all the good intentions attributable to all, there has also been clear evidence of failure leading to actual and potential corruption, arising from ignorance, incompetence and a clear failure to communicate. There are no acceptable alibis for these critical failures. Nor should we allow them to be ignored or swept under the carpet. Rather, we should move together to ensure that mistakes and failures are recognised and acknowledged. Lessons should also be learned and applied in the days ahead to eliminate or significantly minimise the chances of similar corruption creating similar errors -- even in the face of innocence or good intentions.<br /> <br /> C Anthony<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> carltongor@gmail.,com<br /> <br /> Little-White, Gov't had good intentions<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11274014/Portia_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:00 AM Embrace the whole Bible http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Embrace-the-whole-Bible_18008828 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As Jamaica continues the review of the Sexual Offences Act and related laws, including the 1864 British colonially-imposed Offences Against the Person Act, I find it ironic that in our Parliament, and from many pulpits, descendants of slaves feel morally justified to sit in judgement of other descendants of slaves and tell them what they can do with their own bodies.<br /> <br /> The irony is compounded by the fact that these neo-slavery pronouncements are based on a narrow interpretation of biblical passages that, if consistently applied, would have been used to keep these "neo-slavists" themselves enslaved.<br /> <br /> Let us not forget: "Slaves, obey your master..." Colossians 3:22, 1 Peter 2: 18, and Ephesians 6:5. Not surprisingly, these new enslavers advocate for a liberal interpretation of the enslaving passages -- as this benefits them -- but adamantly support a restrictive reading of other verses that would deny the human rights of vulnerable minorities.<br /> <br /> To these modern-day "backra massas" I say, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you." Deuteronomy 15:15.<br /> <br /> As such, they should be reminded of the great command: "Do unto others as you have them do to you." Luke 6:31.<br /> <br /> If this gracious instruction is too onerous then they should strictly adhere to all biblical pronouncements: "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." James 2:10. Any other approach would simply be hypocritical.<br /> <br /> Maurice Tomlinson<br /> <br /> Montego Bay<br /> <br /> mauricet@lgbtiawarecaribbean.com <br /> <br /> Embrace the whole Bible<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/7488712/bible-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:00 AM Hail Patrick Robinson! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Hail-Patrick-Robinson-_17986755 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I wish to applaud and congratulate the outstanding and globally esteemed Jamaican, the Honourable Justice Patrick Lipton Robinson, who has just been elected to the highest international and prestigious judicial body, the International Court of Justice.<br /> <br /> This outstanding accomplishment is testimony of the excellent and remarkable contribution and experience which Justice Robinson has shared as an international lawyer and judge and the high respect and esteem in which he is held internationally.<br /> <br /> A son of our soil, becoming the first Jamaican and Caricom national to be elected to this illustrious body, Justice Robinson has esteemed himself by his service to the country, region, the hemisphere, and the international community, and his outstanding career achievements are a reflection of the statesman and renowned legal and judicial luminary that he is.<br /> <br /> He was the former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a position he held between 2008 and 2011. He was first elected to the tribunal in 1998 and has been re-elected twice since. In 2004, he presided over the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, and the first former head of state to be tried for war crimes. He is the recipient of the national award, Order of Jamaica, awarded by the Government of Jamaica for services to international law and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He is also a honorary membership of the American Society of International Law for 2011.<br /> <br /> No doubt the entire country joins me in saluting this outstanding and historical accomplishment and wish for this eminent and highly acclaimed Jamaican the heartiest congratulations and continued success as he assumes his new role in the prestigious International Court of Justice.<br /> <br /> Phillipa Lawrence<br /> <br /> phillipa.lawrence@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Hail Patrick Robinson!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11257375/patrick-robinson_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM Does Holness still have confidence in Kavan Gayle? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Does-Holness-still-have-confidence-in-Kavan-Gayle-_17986504 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Let me begin by saying that the sordid affair in the purchasing of Outameni by the National Housing Trust (NHT) is scandalous given that there are hundreds of contributors who cannot afford to get a loan to buy a house.<br /> <br /> The entire Easton Douglas-led board should resign forthwith and a new board appointed. It is unacceptable that up to this point in time the nation is still not clear as to what took place with this transaction and what was bought by the NHT.<br /> <br /> Having said that, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, under the leadership of Andrew Holness, has expressed their disappointment, disgust, and the fact that they have no confidence in the board of the NHT because of this act. However, Kavan Gayle, who has resigned from being a member of the board, was also a member of the Jamaica Labour Party when this "transaction" took place. We also must note that he is a JLP senator appointed by Holness.<br /> <br /> I would therefore want to know if Holness still has confidence in Gayle as a senator. One wonders if Gayle resigned on a matter of principle, because he was pressured or because of political expediency.<br /> <br /> Let us not be fooled by the letter of resignation that Kavan Gayle issued, pontificating as if he was unaware of what was taking place as he sat on the board. We need to remind him that he is no ordinary John Tom who is running a shop, but he was selected to sit on that board to give probity to what takes place. He cannot now come to us and try to wash his hands clean like Pilate, because the residue of this transaction is under his fingernails.<br /> <br /> Let us see if Andrew Holness will ask him to resign from the Senate or he will use an undated letter to have him removed. Surely Holness will not have us believe that he has no confidence in Gayle sitting on the board of NHT, but has confidence in him sitting in the Senate. We wait and see.<br /> <br /> Ralston Chamberlain<br /> <br /> Toronto, Ontario<br /> <br /> ralston.chamberlain@alum.utoronto.ca<br /> <br /> Does Holness still have confidence in Kavan Gayle?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11256666/kavan-gayle_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM Obama is an outsider http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Obama-is-an-outsider_17986690 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I read Sir Ronald Sanders' column 'Anti-Obama forces cloud global stability' and I consider it a great obituary for Obama.<br /> <br /> The real question is why are the Republicans (and even many Democrats) so antagonistic towards him?<br /> <br /> Simple: He is not of the old boys' club. That patriarchy which, amongst other things, chews and spits tobacco, drinks bourbons, and cuts deals in smoke-filled rooms. Obama is an outsider of mixed-race progeny. He does not represent anything like the culture of the 'Southern white gentleman' with their notion of honour.<br /> <br /> These American 'gentlemen', descendants from the stocks of European aggressive and fun-loving men, believe and practise what they see as 'courage and strength'. This means showing aggression towards outsiders whom they feel want to come and take away all that they have painstakingly accumulated by grit and hard work (legal or illegal, moral or immoral) over centuries.<br /> <br /> This 'gentleman class of warriors' are also antagonistic towards outsiders whom they feel want to dilute their way of life. These are the realities that Obama battles; and so will all other outsiders. They will face this same stonewalling from these political and propertied old-boy networks that wrap themselves in a shield of honour.<br /> <br /> George S Garwood, PhD<br /> <br /> Florida, USA<br /> <br /> merleneg@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Obama is an outsider<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11274176/Barack-Obama_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM Wignall's weird welcome http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Wignall-s-weird-welcome_18003536 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I see Mark Wignall totally missed the point again in his Sunday column titled 'I welcome the Cable and Wireless acquisition of Flow'.<br /> <br /> Wignall seemingly welcomes inevitable widespread job loss as the company seeks to save.<br /> <br /> Wignall welcomes two companies coming together to have a near vice grip on the cable, fixed and broadband market to the almost certain detriment of pricing, service and technical advance.<br /> <br /> Wignall welcomes greater power for a company that treated its customers with disdain when last it ruled the market?<br /> <br /> Wignall welcomes greater power for a company that has just last week been exposed by Edward Snowden as helping the UK to spy on innocent Internet users the world over.<br /> <br /> Worrying indeed. I think Wignall may be removed from reality.<br /> <br /> This acquisition does not produce a level playing field, but a slippery slope. Rigorous oversight and scrutiny are needed here.<br /> <br /> Glenford Warner<br /> <br /> Anchovy, St James<br /> <br /> warnerglenford@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Wignall's weird welcome<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11271342/ed-cart-FRIDAY-21-nov_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM LIME's $262 fee hurt my Christmas http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/LIME-s--262-fee-hurt-my-Christmas_18003510 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> All LIME customers would have seen by now an accompanying letter with their November bill from the CEO of LIME Caribbean, Martin Roos, informing them of an additional monthly fee of $262, inclusive of taxes, as of January 1, 2015. According to LIME, customers who do not sign up for e-billing will have to pay this additional cost to have their bill printed and sent to them by traditional mail.<br /> <br /> This decision by LIME is unfair since the company has given their customers less than two months' notice of their intended action to impose this added charge on monthly bills.<br /> <br /> What's more, there are many customers who do not have access to a computer. What about LIME customers who might not be as computer savvy as others? Will there be any provisions made at the LIME branches to assist customers in signing up? The November dated letter by the CEO did not mention anything to this effect.<br /> <br /> According to LIME, their decision to go e-billing is more convenient and cost-effective, however, I humbly ask: Is this decision more convenient for all your customers?<br /> <br /> LIME's decision to impose this additional charge at this time is most ill-advised and goes against good customer service.<br /> <br /> What about those customers who are on a fixed income, such as pensioners? What about customers who are on a wage freeze?<br /> <br /> Additionally, the recent acquisition by LIME's parent company of Flow will drastically limit the Jamaican consumer ability to choose. This move cannot be in the best interest of the customer. What is the message being sent by LIME? Should we expect more of this high-handed approach in the future?<br /> <br /> LIME's decision has certainly put a damper on the festive season. I hope LIME will revisit its decision and give their customers a bit more time so we may all have a merry Christmas.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> LIME's $262 fee hurt my Christmas<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11229224/LIME-3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM Congratulations, JC http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Congratulations--JC_18003508 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Passion, pride and teamwork are the reasons Jamaica College was crowned champions once again of the coveted Manning Cup.<br /> <br /> On Saturday, the boys from Old Hope Road showed that they can live up to a section in their school motto, "Fervet Opus in Campis", which translates to "Work is burning in the fields".<br /> <br /> Coming into the 2014 season, JC was seen as favourites, but oftentimes the dark blues seemed as though they were crumbling under pressure. This was most evident in the matches played against Holy Trinity and Excelsior high schools.<br /> <br /> Even with the pressure, the Miguel Coley-coached team lived up to the high expectations by digging deep and, as a result, have been crowned Corporate Area champions.<br /> <br /> The quarter-final game against Denham Town High caused much debate as the dark blues blew them away with a 16 goal defeat. The heart shown by the young men proves that they are indeed made from the cloth of true champions. Defending their 2013 title successfully is a true reflection of the work being done at the school. Since Ruel Ried has been serving as headmaster both their academic and sports programmes have blossomed and the work which burns in the field has continuously been bearing fruit. Title 26 is nothing but magical.<br /> <br /> Rohan Walsh<br /> <br /> Gordon Town, St Andrew<br /> <br /> bryanwalsh@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Congratulations, JC<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11274041/JC-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 24, 2014 3:00 AM Is it 'do as you please' at NHT? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Is-it--do-as-you-please--at-NHT_17974996 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Both political parties' annual conferences are behind us, and are but distant memories. However, National Housing Trust (NHT) purchasing an indebted company is still fresh in our minds.<br /> <br /> NHT's mandate is to provide housing for contributors, but so far it has engaged in a multitude of things that have nothing to do with housing. In all fairness to NHT, it has provided houses for several people, but we have to look at the whole picture.<br /> <br /> During Portia Simpson Miller's first term as prime minister, funds were used from NHT to construct inner-city houses costing some $15.5 billion. The estimate for this project was $5 billion, but this is Jamaica and everything comes with a 200 per cent cost overrun.<br /> <br /> PJ Patterson, during his tenure, used the NHT funds to build Emancipation Park, and pay into the national education fund.<br /> <br /> I am at a loss as to what Michael Manley and Edward Seaga might have used the NHT funds for during their time in government.<br /> <br /> Bruce Golding attempted to extract $5 billion from NHT for an irrigation project for farmers, and was told he could not use the NHT for that. He sought legal advice, then backed down.<br /> <br /> The questions I want to ask are: Does the NHT change mandate from one government to the next? Or does one political party have a right to do just about anything it pleases?<br /> <br /> What is painful about NHT buying an indebted company is that many contributors are told they are not qualified to get a loan. If persons won't be qualified, why is money being drawn from their earnings, along with the employers' three per cent?<br /> <br /> The time has come for the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce to address the handling of NHT. Until these two powerful groups join with the downtrodden, governments will continue to use NHT as a cash cow and petty cash imprest. After all both groups have staff for whom NHT deductions are being paid who still haven't got a house. The private sector needs to step up to the plate to defend the rights of those who are unable to do so for themselves. They should stop paying into NHT and give the staff the money to take home. Stop paying taxes and invest the money, so you can employ more people.<br /> <br /> Of course, this would shut down the government. But I bet they would start doing what is right and not what is politically expedient.<br /> <br /> A reported $180 million has been paid for Outameni, $111 million earmarked for development, and there is a $144-million debt. Did NHT also buy the debt? If yes, then this would end up costing contributors $435 million? If that's the case what will be the 'real' benefit to contributors?<br /> <br /> Should this turn out to be the "best buy", will contributors see a decrease in interest rate and will NHT construct houses that are not matchboxes? An analytical study needs to be done to assess all that NHT has done outside of providing housing to ascertain the benefit that contributors have derived and if they have all been profitable.<br /> <br /> Wayne White<br /> <br /> wayne2white@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Is it 'do as you please' at NHT?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11260847/NHT-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 21, 2014 1:00 AM Time for public hearings to fill State boards seats http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Time-for-public-hearings-to-fill-State-boards-seats_17984103 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Clearly the Jamaican state is urgently in need of reform in terms of governance. There is much that is wrong in the society regarding how we appoint individuals to serve on boards of state entities. The cavalier and political divisive manner in which such appointments are done manifested itself in the debacle now facing the remaining board members of the National Housing Trust.<br /> <br /> Yes, they were appointed by the prime minister, however, their failure to resign says they have failed to understand that they are servants of the people of Jamaica. Such arrogance and rudeness is most unbecoming and does not inspire much hope for the future of Jamaica. Then again, this is nothing new since the interest of the country is always a distant second to the interest of the two main political parties.<br /> <br /> The time has come for us to stop having our politicians appoint members to state boards. Successive governments have done this country a major disservice and now we are paying dearly for their insular and selfish actions. May God help us.<br /> <br /> We are now at that juncture in our country's history where we need a mature approach to governance. Maybe we should have public confirmation hearings, where those who are nominated to serve on government boards can be rigorously quizzed and thoroughly questioned by members of the public. They must be prepared to answer questions from civil society before they are confirmed to serve. We need to strive towards an era of transparency.<br /> <br /> Frankly, we need to move away from having the same individuals serving on multiple state boards. Is it that only a select few in the society have the skill sets necessary to serve their country? If this is so then we are in big trouble. We need to know the educational background of such individuals and clearly this would be exposed at a public confirmation hearing. The people of Jamaica deserve better, especially in a time of great personal sacrifice.<br /> <br /> In the words of the apostle Luke: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Let us recommit ourselves to this nation of ours, it's not too late to make a U-turn and do what is decent and socially responsible.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> Time for public hearings to fill State boards seats<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11256823/Untitled_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 21, 2014 1:00 AM Quality craft is available http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Quality-craft-is-available_17974993 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Having been involved in Jamaican art and craft since the late 1960s, I read your article 'Craft trade revival' with interest and confusion.<br /> <br /> I was part of a significant revival of the craft industry in the early 1980s, opening Harmony Hall in Ocho Rios in 1981, and a sister establishment in Antigua in 1987, where we hosted local and regional craft fairs throughout the 1990s. The EU-funded Caribbean Export in Barbados assumed responsibility for the fairs, rebranding as the popular and respected Caribbean Gift & Craft Shows (CGCS).<br /> <br /> In 1995, the same organisation hired me to produce a catalogue of Caricom artisans that became a seminal marketing tool throughout the region.<br /> <br /> The momentum has now been lost. CGCS briefly became Caribbean Design and has been dormant for several years. The gift shop buyers from the major hotels in the region, once the major market for producers, for whatever reason, now find it easier and more convenient to buy cheap merchandise from China via gift shows in Miami.<br /> <br /> The confusion came as I read further. On May 19 and June 6, I was invited to participate in a TPDCo/JBDC National Craft Workshop, with a proposed date of "late October/early November", only to receive a further e-mail on October 29 thanking me for my "support and interest in the planned National Craft Workshop. Notwithstanding, I have to advise that this activity has been put on hold until further notice owing to unforeseen circumstances".<br /> <br /> Whilst the OAS involvement must be positive, with confirmation that mainly young people are being trained, my confusion deepened a few paragraphs later when an official stated that disillusionment resulted from not attracting many young people. The further comment in the final paragraph that there is a "lack of variety and poor quality of craft..." fills me with gloom.<br /> <br /> Having trained people to produce, I very much hope that the OAS will now assist the artisans in the marketing of their products and encourage local retailers to buy Jamaican.<br /> <br /> Annabella Proudlock<br /> <br /> Managing Director<br /> <br /> Harmony Hall Limited<br /> <br /> info@harmonyhall.com<br /> <br /> Quality craft is available<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10945319/craft_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 21, 2014 1:00 AM Whoever jumps the highest wins! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Whoever-jumps-the-highest-wins_17984318 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The discourse concerning Digicel's call for strict regulatory and fiduciary oversight of the CWC acquisition of Columbus International needs to go beyond the classic 'sour grapes' response being levelled at the Ireland-based firm from almost every corner of society.<br /> <br /> Customers and detractors alike have been lambasting the once revered 'bigger, better network', especially via social media, in a manner that reminds me of the contempt many Jamaicans held for the stodgy Cable and Wireless monopoly in the pre-liberalisation era and shortly after.<br /> <br /> CWC spent US$3 billion on the deal. Digicel has admitted it offered US$2 billion. Is it that Digicel's bid could not stand up to the scrutiny of the very regulators it is now asking to probe CWC's alleged extravagance?<br /> <br /> Let's face it, underpayment for such a major asset would attract stringent regulatory scrutiny as much as overpayment. One billion US dollars could easily swing the pendulum in either direction. It is not the place of a spurned bidder, as Digicel appears to be in this case, to pronounce on such a matter.<br /> <br /> Basic market theory dictates that the ultimate price of an asset is generally determined by what buyers are willing to pay for it. Interested buyers see opportunity and they jump at it. Whoever jumps the highest and times the perfect catch wins! Simple.<br /> <br /> The effect that this rather curiously timed announcement from Digicel could have on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) in London, where CWC trades, must not be understated. Announcements of this sort can cause jitters among investors and must, therefore, not be taken lightly.<br /> <br /> Indeed, even here at home, where over 20,000 Jamaicans own shares in CWC's subsidiary, LIME, shockwaves from the Digicel announcement could also hurt local investors. Perhaps the major calming factor for local and overseas investors and the general public would be that the source of this information was neither an acclaimed global asset management firm, nor did it originate from a leading securities and brokerage house with international pedigree. It came from an obviously perturbed telecoms rival.<br /> <br /> Chris Hanson<br /> <br /> spikejm72@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> Whoever jumps the highest wins!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/6458103/Digicel-Building_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 21, 2014 1:00 AM JLP gov'ts always respected the statutory mandate of NHT funds http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/JLP-gov-ts-always-respected-the-statutory-mandate-of-NHT-funds_17974813 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I have noted an article appearing in the Jamaica Observer of Wednesday, November 19, 2014 in which it is stated: "When the Jamaica Labour Party used money from the Trust to purchase lands at Ferry the accusation of self-interest by the PNP was strong." I wish to point out that the lands at Ferry were purchased not by the National Housing Trust (NHT) but by the Urban Development Corporation.<br /> <br /> Further, contrary to the assertion made in a statement by the church groups yesterday that "successive governments have turned to the Fund to support national budgets or to fund projects offering political advantage", no JLP Government has ever molested NHT funds. This practice started in 2002 when NHT funds were used to develop Emancipation Park. It recurred in 2005 when the NHT Act was amended to provide $5 billion for the education transformation programme. It was done again last year when the Act was further amended to allow for the take-off of $44 billion over four years to support the fiscal consolidation programme.<br /> <br /> I protested on each occasion, suggesting that if resort to NHT funds was unavoidable, it should be done by way of a loan at interest rates comparable to the average return that the NHT earns from its investments (including its low-interest mortgages) so that it would become part of its investment portfolio.<br /> <br /> In the alternative, especially if our debt limits do not permit this, the Government, which owns vast amounts of land, should transfer lands suitable for housing and of an equivalent value to the NHT. In that way, the integrity of the NHT funds and their use for the statutorily mandated purpose of providing housing for its contributors would have been preserved.<br /> <br /> In 2008, the JLP Government sought to borrow, not to take, $45 million from the NHT to finance the drought-alleviation programme, but abandoned the idea after the board, led by Howard Mitchell, expressed its disquiet about the proposal.<br /> <br /> Bruce Golding,<br /> <br /> Former Prime Minister of Jamaica<br /> <br /> JLP gov'ts always respected the statutory mandate of NHT funds <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11263110/Bruce-Golding_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 20, 2014 1:00 AM It's a pity Holness can't trust his own http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/It-s-a-pity-Holness-can-t-trust-his-own_17969320 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> At the Jamaica Labour Party Annual Conference on Sunday the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness said: "One of our greatest assets is that our final court is an internationally recognised court of arbitration and appeal, and we want to tek weh ourselves from it."<br /> <br /> It would appear that Holness and the Opposition have finally decided that under no circumstances whatsoever should the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) be our final court. I would now expect, therefore, that the talk about having a referendum no longer holds water. It appears that we will stick with the Privy Council in England.<br /> <br /> Holness seems to have no faith in the Caribbean people. No faith or confidence in the CCJ? Can it be interpreted that he has more faith in the British people and the England-based Privy Council. What a pity! If that be the case, I wonder how outsiders view us? How outsiders view Mr Holness?<br /> <br /> If an influential Jamaican political leader like Mr Holness appears to have no confidence in his own Caribbean court with judges of the highest intellect, it's likely outsiders might form the same opinion.<br /> <br /> It is my view that one of our greatest assets does not reside in England, but right here in the Caribbean. Justice Patrick Robinson, who has just been elected to the International Court of Justice, is a Caribbean man and a living example of where our assets reside. I was touched by the various tributes paid to him in Parliament on Tuesday. Could one of the distinguished parliamentarians who gave tributes quietly tell the Opposition leader that he need not fear because the CCJ is staffed with judges of the highest repute, akin to Justice Partick Robinson.<br /> <br /> Hubert McIntyre<br /> <br /> Montego Bay<br /> <br /> hihubert@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> It's a pity Holness can't trust his own<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11254296/andrew_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 20, 2014 3:00 AM Obama's plunge in popularity http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Obama-s-plunge-in-popularity_17974895 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A true leader should not allow opponents to define him but, by his own strength and weaknesses, he should not fail to justify the confidence placed in him.<br /> <br /> President Obama, now with little to lose, should use his constitutional powers to do the right things for the American people and by extension the rest of the world.<br /> <br /> Being a leader is not a popularity contest, as leaders are given almost divine powers to motivate others both by actions and words, even when you cannot satisfy everybody's expectation they will be convinced that you have acted in their best interest.<br /> <br /> It must be understood that President Obama on January 20, 2009 was sworn in as president with the highest handicap score of any other modern-day president: He is an African American.<br /> <br /> President Obama's popularity peaked just by being elected president; his tenure in office at that particular time was secondary, but, like all human beings, he was not clothed with the mantle of immortality and it was inevitable that his popularity would be downgraded as a mortal being.<br /> <br /> Maintaining such a superior level of likeability with high expectations was way beyond any mortal being's ability to achieve.<br /> <br /> His timing for the presidential run was perfect; the American people and the rest of the world were yearning for a new political leader with a difference.<br /> <br /> He, however, was targeted for failure by some of his opponents, by using obstruction tactics, by blocking some important legislation that would be beneficial to a large percentage of the American population.<br /> <br /> Awarding President Obama with a Nobel Peace Prize during his first term in office was premature and ill-advised, setting the bar of expectation to an unrealistically high level -- not to say he is not deserving of the honour.<br /> <br /> His unrelenting efforts to help the middle class did not meet the approval of some of his opponents who represented the monied class. His achievements have not been aggressively marketed allowing his opponents to suppress them.<br /> <br /> The president, in his final years in office, has been given a lifeline of less expectation and so, can use powers vested by law to work with the other legislative arms in the best interest of country.<br /> <br /> I firmly believe that even some of those who oppose the president publicly admire him for the genuineness he displays by wanting the world to be a better place.<br /> <br /> Tony Miles<br /> <br /> tonymiles1940@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Obama's plunge in popularity<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11263109/Obama_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 20, 2014 3:00 AM We need to think about the economic benefits from ganja http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-need-to-think-about-the-economic-benefits-from-ganja_17974851 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am a little concerned about the message of Clovis's cartoon on Monday, November 17, 2014 about "Pass the chalice..." in relation to ganja.<br /> <br /> I am worried for the fact that, as a nation, we are still not conscious of the great economic opportunuity that ganja decriminalisation will present and our government is still moving at a snail's pace to get policies in place so that we can get the production rolling.<br /> <br /> What we need to understand as a people is that if we don't use the marijuana and its byproducts we opt to lose the benefits the production of marijuana and development of by-products for medicinal purposes may bring.<br /> <br /> What I observe is a lot of our youth on the streets kneading the weed in their 'hand middle' celebrating and waiting for the day of the legalisation for public smoking. No one is out busy clearing areas to say, "I am preparing to be a part of this new revelation to grow the plant so that I will benefit from this economic blast."<br /> <br /> We need to educate ourselves properly; there is nothing wrong with ganja, but it is what we are using it for that is wrong and currently our young people are using it to damage themselves.<br /> <br /> Dr Henry Lowe's message to the nation is yet to be adopted, as he is trying to get us moving on the production line. What we need to understand is that what is happening here has been a dream for man, and I don't believe he has been selfish with his findings as he constantly informs us of his results.<br /> <br /> Come on, Jamaica, wake up and let us get moving in the right way.<br /> <br /> Rupert Brown<br /> <br /> aat2study@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> We need to think about the economic benefits from ganja<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10772378/Ganja-plant-3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 20, 2014 3:00 AM PAJ, Vaz send OD congrats to Desmond Allen http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/PAJ--Vaz-send-OD-congrats-to-Desmond-Allen_17969439 The executive of the Press Association of Jamaica wants to place on record our warmest congratulations on the national award with which Desmond Allen was recently conferred.<br /> <br /> We are especially proud to know that a former president of our association has been honoured in this way. His contributions to the field of journalism over the years are too numerous to mention, but the comprehensive and fascinating profiles of prominent Jamaicans, and the media critiques as The Spike spring readily to mind.<br /> <br /> His work over the years has impressed many, and we are pleased to join with all those congratulating him on being recognised by your country.<br /> <br /> Dionne Jackson Miller<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Press Association of Jamaica<br /> <br /> Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is with great pleasure that I join the Jamaica Observer family and the wider media fraternity in congratulating Desmond Allen, founding editor of the newspaper, on being conferred with the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) this year.<br /> <br /> Desmond has earned for himself many accolades for his outstanding work in media but a national award is indeed a fitting recognition of his immense contribution to the field of Journalism spanning over four decades.<br /> <br /> A well respected media veteran, Desmond has had vast experience in the print and electronic media, having held senior positions with both local newspapers, the government news agency, and was a correspondent for international media agencies including the Inter Press Service Third World News Agency (IPS) and the Spanish News Agency. Desmond has also had the privilege of serving his colleagues in the capacity of General Secretary of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers and here at home as president of the Press Association of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Desmond is renowned for his inspirational personality profile series The Desmond Allen Interviews. It was, however, his column The Spike that helped to raise the standard among his fellow journalists and keep them on their toes as he gave useful pointers to improve their craft. He is a fine example to young journalists who can learn much from him, his style and professionalism.<br /> <br /> As a former minister with responsibility for information in the Bruce Golding-led JLP Administration, I had occasion to interact with Desmond on media matters and we have continued to enjoy a good working relationship.<br /> <br /> I trust that Desmond will be able to dedicate and share with us many more years of his enormous knowledge and experience and wish for him continued excellence and achievement in his career.<br /> <br /> Congratulations, Desmond, on a well deserved award and much success for the future.<br /> <br /> Daryl Vaz, MP<br /> <br /> West Portland<br /> <br /> PAJ, Vaz send OD congrats to Desmond Allen<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11260844/Desmond-Allen_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 19, 2014 2:00 AM What about our crime-free Christmas? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-about-our-crime-free-Christmas-_17969037 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is an open letter to the prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller:<br /> <br /> I have noticed that the new police commissioner, Carl Williams, has assured the Chinese nationals in the country of my birth, of which you are leader, that the police will be doing everything in their power to make sure that they -- businessmen and women in downtown Kingston -- have a crime-free Christmas period.<br /> <br /> So, Madam Leader, what kind of assurances are being made to the everyday people of Jamaica who are being murdered and robbed every day by fellow Jamaicans wreaking havoc on the society?<br /> <br /> I know you do not listen to the news and, from the looks of it, those that advise you are not very intelligent and aware, but someone must have told you that the number of murders since the start of the year have far surpassed the number of days in the year. And that's without counting deaths while in the protection of the police or by the police.<br /> <br /> I do not know if your minister of national security, Peter Bunting, is even aware of what is going on himself, as most of his time seems to be spent asking for divine intervention, as if Jesus is supposed to wave a magic wand and fix it all.<br /> <br /> I understand that this might very well be out of your league, because if National Housing Trust money could be used in the Outameni purchase fiasco and you can say that, as leader of the country, you had no clue about what was going on until you heard about it in the media, but I sill ask for your help.<br /> <br /> It's a good thing, then, that you have begun to pay attention to the media.<br /> <br /> I am not trying to draw your tongue, but do you not think that the citizens of Jamaica, whose votes you run after, need the same reassurance from the top police officer in the country that he is giving to the Chinese?<br /> <br /> I know that you are afraid of no boy, no girl, no time, nowhere, but please remember that, while you have bodyguards, the rest of the country has to depend on the police.<br /> <br /> I would therefore advise you, Madam Prime Minister, to have a very serious talk with your top cop and minister of national security, and let them know or remind them that the Jamaican Constitution states that all citizens of Jamaica -- not just the investors or those of Chinese descent -- are afforded the right to be protected by the State, and that these citizens deserve to have a crime-free Christmas as well.<br /> <br /> One more thing. Could you please see if you can lower the price of the imported chicken back so that Jamaicans who cannot afford the other parts or the entire chicken can at least have something to flour up and fry for their Christmas dinner as well? And while you are at it, can you please call the contractor to fix up the hospitals so that at least we can endure the wait to see a doctor in comfort.<br /> <br /> Michelle Bradshaw<br /> <br /> michelleannmariebradshaw@gmail.com<br /> <br /> What about our crime-free Christmas?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11260843/Carl-Williams_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 19, 2014 2:00 AM Don't continue to insult our intelligence, PM http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-continue-to-insult-our-intelligence--PM_17940651 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The explanation provided by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller regarding the National Housing Trust (NHT) purchase of the Orange Grove/Valley (Outameni) property speaks to the continued insult of intelligence of the Jamaican population.<br /> <br /> The NHT has far outgrown its original mandate with assets greater than the commercial banks. But instead of investing and redirecting the finances to meet the needs of the emerging population, the Trust has opted to invest in tourism. Unless there is gold or some precious gem of great national value on the acreage of the property, then $180 million is overpriced. Whether or not it included "property, a generator, fuel tank and office furniture", it's still overpriced and it doesn't take a realty valuator to tell. Don't insult our intelligence.<br /> <br /> A scan of the lands available for sale in Trelawny, some much larger than this property, are significantly lower in price. What's so great about this one that we had to spend $180 million with the intention of investing more? Does it have a significant role in national development, more specifically housing and infrastructure?<br /> <br /> If the NHT is unsure as to where to allocate the funds, then they can increase the loan limit to professionals who can afford it. If they had any clue what the real estate market was like, they would know that $4.5 million cannot buy a house, much less a studio apartment. Don't even start on the starter homes, if you spin your roll three times you knock the wall twelve times.<br /> <br /> Mrs Simpson Miller, don't annoy me. As the prime minister, such a large transaction came to your attention after the media carried it? Clearly there's a disconnect between yourself, the Cabinet and the public agencies. Are people like Easton Douglas allowed to enter into such deals without your approval or knowledge? Just be honest with us, this is our consolidated fund, you are accountable to us and not yourself.<br /> <br /> Timothy Cawley<br /> <br /> cawley.timothy@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Don't continue to insult our intelligence, PM<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11252601/Portia-Parliament_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 19, 2014 3:00 AM I'd take a non-bailout too http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-d-take-a-non-bailout-too-_17968830 I would like to be 'not' bailed out like Lennie Little-White.<br /> <br /> Don't put one red cent in my pocket. Just make your cheque payable directly to my creditors. Remember, don't make a mistake and give me one red cent.<br /> <br /> Better yet, I don't really mind if all/some of my debts were also written off.<br /> <br /> I wouldn't even mind being treated like a criminal by being barred from entering any property I may have sold for over 15 times its value.<br /> <br /> I may, however, drown myself in sorrow at my being a Jamaican -- black or not -- and 'not' being bailed out -- like Lennie Little-White.<br /> <br /> Egerton Chang<br /> <br /> e_rider69@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> I'd take a non-bailout too <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11252590/lenny-little-whyte_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 19, 2014 3:00 AM Quick question http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Quick-question_17969040 If Jamaica has the calibre of judges that can sit at the International Court of Justice, why do we, as an independent people, have to look outside (London or Caribbean) for our final court?<br /> <br /> Joan E Williams<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> gratestj@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Quick question<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11257375/patrick-robinson_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 19, 2014 3:00 AM Support J'can Anita Antoinette in The Voice http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Support-J-can-Anita-Antoinette-in-The-Voice_17957254 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The 2014 season of The Voice is on and one contestant is a beautiful young Jamaican-born lady Anita Antoinette.<br /> <br /> I ask why is there no support for her, even a fraction of that given to Tessanne Chin winner of the 2013 competition? Where is our Ministry of Tourism, and our media houses on this one?<br /> <br /> Could someone step in and give Jamaicans at home and abroad an opportunity to see and support another potential winner. I do not care whether she is from the "uptown browning class" or from whatever class, we should not discriminate, there is tourism opportunity and mileage in her also.<br /> <br /> It is also interesting to note that many more familiar reggae songs are being performed by contestants this year, but, of course, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff are their favourites. Anita did a beautiful chair-spinning rendition of Marley's Turn your lights down low.<br /> <br /> Let us support Anita like we support footballers and whichever person, many of whom only their grandmother is Jamaican-born, at least she "born ya". Let us embrace Anita Antoinette, another of our own, in the NBC The Voice competition. No excuses!<br /> <br /> Good luck Anita!<br /> <br /> Michael Spence<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> micspen2@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Support J'can Anita Antoinette in The Voice<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11257638/Anita-Antoinette_4_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 18, 2014 1:00 AM