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Opportunity knocking. Expo Jamaica just ended, after four days of displaying Jamaican business opportunities, taken and offered by local entities, not just businesses themselves, but also the agencies (governmental and corporate) that support them. I’m always trying to get some gauge of how people perceive the economy. Things like the Expo are one way of doing that. Its expanded setting was an idea that seemed to work well, taking the indoor arena as extra space.

 

The 500 buyers from 27 countries and 450 exhibitors, are impressive sounding figures. But all of that counts for less if the interchange opportunities don’t produce orders, sales, more output, more jobs, more revenue and more income.

 

While people mull the idea of boycotting one of our neighbours, I’d urge using positive buying of some of the excellent local products and services that are available: wood, food, confectionery, drinks, energy-saving devices, etc.

I’m looking to see how the newly completed North-South Highway changes the economic geography of Jamaica. So, I was interested to see the eager eyes and ears touring around the Expo booths for local hotels, touting their regular vacations for foreigners and so-called ‘staycations’ for locals–as the low season starts for foreign tourists, it’s worth noting the really good bargains. As someone who has left Kingston to visit the north coast three times in the past three weeks, I keep marvelling at how I feel after the much faster and smoother journey. The time savings are impressive (left home around 6am for Ocho Rios, to play golf, and was home by 1pm). But, it’s the saving on wear and tear on my body and my nerves that really strike me. Just over two hours from NMIA to Mobay, or just over and hour from Kingston home to Ocho Rios, make the island more touchable for locals and visitors alike. Kingston can readily tap into the north coast tourist volumes because easy day trips are really doable. Let’s see how the physical and entrepreneurial repositioning goes in coming months.

Opinions we have aplenty. The Gleaner’s opinion editor, Andre Wright, is not afraid to stick it to politicians, so I shouldn’t really be surprised that he took his stiletto out to gore one of the new government. In a piece entitled ‘Ruel Reid’s Circus Comes To Town‘, he let the JLP government’s information ‘machine’ have it with both barrels (if you’ll excuse my mixing my armoury metaphors). I’m not going to spoil your reading, but would just point out that it’s rare for such a writer to offer that a minister makes a ‘clownish, oafish performance’. Admitted, the government has tried to stand on a higher plane than its predecessor in terms of both engagement with the public on a regular basis (post-Cabinet media briefings, ministers sending flurries of messages on social media, etc.). However, all of that has to hang together for it to be meaningful. This past week, we did see that some of the structures that have been put in place are not working as well as one would hope, and having super-ministries (like Education, Youth and Information) runs many risks, including being out of simple information loops. But, in fairness, that’s a systemic problem, not one of an individual per se. That said, I am still of the view that certain kinds of people (often little different in temperament than pit bulls) do certain government jobs well. Information can be a sweet ride or it can be a rough and dirty one. One can speculate till the cows come home, but I believe that Everald Warmington would be a great minister of information. I just feel it in my bones. Would Mr. Wright have had a quiet, lazy weekend if Warmy had put on the same show and gotten the ‘clownish, oafish’ touch? I think not. I feel a barrage of “Go to Hell!” on speed dial would have been hitting his phone, like hotline bling. He’s probably also found a disembodied digit somewhere near his house with a message like ‘This one’s for you!’. Some say Mr. Holness is a quick learner and decision-maker. Give Warmy the Information portfolio, and let Mr. Reid focus on the heavy enough lifting that education and youth need. The new government had its policies read out by the Governor General, in that anachronism that is the ‘Throne Speech’. One of its proposals is to remove the Queen (Monarch of the United Kingdom) as Jamaica’s head of state. The Republic idea has swirled around for decades, but maybe now is its time.

The new government had its policies read out by the Governor General, in that anachronism that is the ‘Throne Speech’. One of its proposals is to remove the Queen (Monarch of the United Kingdom) as Jamaica’s head of state. The Republic idea has swirled around for decades, but maybe now is its time. When Jamaica got its Independence, it never really rethought many of its institutional arrangements. So, we’ve limped along with a ‘petty British’ gait for nigh on 50 plus years. I’m at a loss to find good reasons to keep many of those hangovers from Colonialism, but am willing to be convinced that they have merit. On removing the monarch, I’m more intrigued by the more radical idea of not just moving to a non-executive (ie ceremonial) president, but to an executive president. Let the discussion rage!

OMG! is reserved for the story of a child allegedly molested by a man in Highgate, St. Mary. Taking the report as it stands, few of the adults (so-called ‘protectors’) look good in this sordid tale. Who should take the biscuit for being the most indifferent is hard to judge at this stage, but I give it to the police officer who made the distinction ‘It’s not an eight-year-old, the girl is 10, and it wasn’t anything like rape … it was more like indecent assault…’ Let that sink in for a bit.

Have a nice day!

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