Monday, July 19, 2010

Good news for Jamaica

Jean-Lowrie Chin | Jamaica Observer | Monday, July 19, 2010

WHEN we heard that the Chinese firm Complant was purchasing government's remaining sugar assets, someone quipped, "Well, this will give them a little sugar to put in the Blue Mountain Coffee they also bought!" It is good news and Aubyn Hill and his team should be congratulated for pulling this off.

With the sale of Air Jamaica and now this, we should be deeply relieved that our taxes are not shoring up inefficient entities, and that these restructured organisations still have good employment prospects for Jamaicans.

It counts that a superpower like China thinks that Jamaica is worth the investment. Theirs is a thriving economy and we can benefit greatly from their culture of diligence and high productivity. If only more Jamaicans would be as convinced as China that Jamaica is a good bet. I heard a cynical quip from a listener to Mutty Perkins' radio talk show recently: "Adam and Eve must be Jamaican. Imagine, God put them in the Garden of Eden where they could get everything they want and they still go wrap up with a serpent!"

The ingenious lengths to which Jamaicans go to operate outside the law make us wonder at the mindset that would put some of our most talented people on the wrong side of the law. Research by Professor Claudette Crawford Brown and Dr Herbert Gayle shows that many of our criminals are from troubled communities.

To make our investors happy with their decision, to make our fellow Jamaicans employable and new entrepreneurs themselves, government should be putting close and relentless focus on these communities.

We sympathise with the Jamaica Tourist Board that there has been a downturn in tourism. But how in heaven's name can we fix it by ploughing US$10 million into advertising and promotion? Those funds — J$890 million — can go a far way to improve the product, focusing on at-risk communities.

It would be great to see more activity from the JTB in social media. This is a low-cost, efficient way of engaging an international audience. As a Facebook fan of Usain Bolt, I am learning that he is approaching two million fans. He is also on Twitter.

Time to start saving!

Not enough people know that since 2005, our government has given Jamaicans a real break in the form of tax relief on savings of up to 20 per cent of their salary. If you have not yet opened a retirement savings account you need to do that today, not tomorrow! Actuary Cathy Lyn told us that pensioners may go back as far as five years to claim tax refunds on those savings.

We have been alerted by Professor Sir Kenneth Hall that we should be planning to fund 30 non-working years after retirement. Speaking at the launch of the BPM Personal Pension, he recalled that there used to be "another retirement package called children", but the very children to whom parents were looking for support are now "returning to the nest".

Sir Kenneth says young people do not think about retirement, though the 20s is the best time to start saving. He proposed that we appeal to them by showing them that they could be independently wealthy by age 55. He said personal savings will lift the economy, referring to the Chinese habit of saving 50 per cent of one's salary — "Jamaicans save only an average of 16 per cent of their salary."

Inflation is the enemy of the pensioner and so it was good news when BOJ Governor Brian Wynter told us at a Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) Seminar last week that inflation was trending down. He believes that there should be "a societal consensus on inflation" as low inflation will help pensioners to maintain their purchasing power.

Financial analyst Sushil Jain urged expenditure control, and suggested that retirees find ways to continue earning as well as look beyond traditional saving plans. He said investments should be diversified and recommended insurance as "a necessary expense". Jain said it was important to utilise investment advisers as "discussions and understanding are important and it is better to have a second opinion". Please sign up for those free investment seminars being offered by various financial organisations — internationally approved and regulated options offer great opportunities even for modest investors.


howie J
We don’t need to do research to tell us that many of our criminals are from troubled communities. We use our senses to see, smell, feel, hear and taste problems.
What we need to know from these social scientists is what methods were used to create conditions which have resulted in these troubled communities.

What is(was) the government's ownership interest in the sugar industry. Was it 100% or a much lesser amount. I hope it's the latter because sugar is such a crucial product. We rely on sugar for energy for our bodies(glucose) and as well sugar is suitable for use in creating fuel that powers machinery.
The Chinese appear to be investing in themselves with Jamaica gaining incidental benefit.
Keep giving away our energy and we'll be immobilized!
Carlos Bryson
People hold off on the ethnocentricity bordering on racism. Granted, we run the risk of re-colonozation but nobody complained when others (Americans, Canadians and Brits) and now Spanish owned most of our industrial base. Why such vitriol against the Chinese? These people have been part of Jamaica for years and have contributed positively. Look at the people that look like you and how they have been screwing us royaly for ages. Hold their feet to the fire. Dont forget the motto.
Carlos Bryson
Ja Cynic; it is not cynical to suggest our schools start teaching other languages. Seriously, my daughter had to choose a second language when she entered school at age 5. She chose spanish and now, after graduating college is very much attractive to Uncle Sam foreign service and the international employer base.
Jamaica being the beach-head to the Caribbean must diversify and learning many languages makes us more attractive. Learning Chinese with our knowledge of the West? That's added value.
Rovert Sirrah
Are jumping up and clapping because Jamaica is being colonised by a communist country ? Can you imagine if this was happening under a PNP administration ? Sugar , bauxite , coffee , aiport , port , building roads , stadiums , convention centres . Whats next ? Come on people this is not progress.
Wharf Dawg
Only the uninformed can view anything that that the Chinese do in Jamaica as good news.
One need only to look at other places where their 'good news' investments were made in the past to understand that this is the death knell of what remains of the Jamaican manufacturing industry. I can give you one example and that is the textile industry of Sub-Saharan Africa..

Winston Jones
Very in formative piece Ms. Lowrie Chin. People must invest but should invest wisely. Saving is not necessarily a bad thing but if inflation keeps increasing then the value of your savings will take a big hit. As for the Chinese investors. We should never give up ownsrship of our natural resources to any foreign investors or companies. It is o.k. to lease out an industry if we are in capable of running the thing ourselves but selling off our riches for term gains is a no no.
Winston G
What is wrong with this writer. Why has she moved away from Manatt to speak about "good news" to disturb persons like JA Cynic and Meat Head. Come on Ms. Lowrie Chin, get off the positive and let us keep focusing on what is wrong with Jamaica so that those who comment here can remain happy.
avid equin
The deeper question is; in a global market where thousands of value chains are swirling around us, what is Jamaica's place? what role do we play? where is sustainable wealth to be harvested? Are we positioned to seriously participate as a worthy player in global value chains? Is our participation condemmed to be at the low value end or do we have the resource and capability to leverage hi value wealth harvesting? After all the proceeds of sales are consumed, are our people globally competitive?
Brain Allen
Meat Head, what concern me is what we don't know about the deal. I would not be surprise to see the Chinese population increase in Jamaica and they start to vote. The only thing remaining before Chinese start to migrate in great numbers to Jamaica is for the government to grant China a television station in Jamaica. This is a betrayal of the Jamaican people (Africans) by Bruce Golding and the regime.
JA Cynic
Soon we will all have to learn mandarin.The way things are going we should make it mandatory in primary schools and even have courses for those in the key ministries. Later, we may even have to update the electoral office.
Hope their will be an influx of reginal chinese cuisine. Jamaicans love chinese food.
JA Cynic
Meat Head
I don't view the Chinese purchase with the same level of elation. China is not viewing their investment as charity -- they intend to repatriate the profits to further develop their country. These profits could have remained here, if only we had the management capacity. This is in spite of the financial rewards we give to managers and government. Going forward, I suppose we will continue to do what we do best -- give our labour cheaply for the benefit of others.

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