Sunday, December 30, 2012

Phillips: IMF wants as much as possible done up front

Jamaica's Minister of Finance and Planning Peter Phillips
from report in Jamaica Observer | Sunday 30 Dec 2012 (link below)
On assuming office, one of the most urgent priorities of this Administration was to reopen the line of communication with the IMF and negotiate a new agreement that would satisfy the interest of Jamaica's economic recovery as well as the board of the IMF.
At the outset, my stated objective was to bring these negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion by the end of December 2012, and my negotiating team has worked assiduously to meet this deadline.
With the approach of this deadline I regard it as an obligation to provide the nation with an update. The primary objective of these negotiations with the IMF is to develop a multi-year economic programme that could be supported by the board of the Fund and other multilateral institutions. This multi-year programme is intended to address the lack of long-term growth and provide the best options for Jamaica.
Discussions have moved from diagnosis by way of an Article IV consultation, which was concluded in May 2012, to agreement on the key challenges to growth that need to be overcome, the areas of economic policy available to the Government, and some broad measures of success over a four- to five-year period.
Over the past two months, discussions have intensified with the visit of senior officials to Washington and, while many of us enjoyed the holidays, the negotiating team worked throughout the Christmas period including e-mail and telephone exchanges with Fund staff as recently as 28th December.
The Government is working to bring the negotiations to a conclusion that is mutually satisfactory to Jamaica and the board of the IMF. This agreement must be in the best interest of Jamaica and provide protection for the most vulnerable.
The final stage of the discussion centred on the challenges of halting the debt accumulation process, raising economic efficiency in both the private and public sectors, and creating the conditions for self-sustaining growth. Consequently, there has been extensive and thorough exploration of the size, range and scope of the public sector and all the elements that contribute to the persistent fiscal deficits.
These include:
a) tax policy (which activities are taxed, at what rate, and which are exempted);
b) staff costs (wage rates, pension obligations and staff size);
c) interest costs (borrowing terms, sources and management);
d) efficiency in procurement and cash management;
e) capital expenditure (prioritisation, partnership, divestment); and
f) how best to protect the most vulnerable in the face of the changes to prices and incomes that flow from every adjustment in economic policy.
The discussions have therefore required technical studies of the repercussions of policy changes and have meant intensive deliberations to overcome differences of view on appropriate measures, impact, exceptions, timing, and significance. The process of arriving at agreement has also had to contend with fairly recent memories among Jamaica's multilateral partners of dishonoured commitments and disappointing performance.
Thus, even where we agree in principle about what has to be achieved by the end of the first year of a programme, there is an instinctive insistence on the part of the IMF that as much as possible should be done up front. For example, the implementation of major tax reform was a large downpayment that signalled the commitment of the Government to raise the primary surplus (revenue less non-interest expenditure) by more than three per cent of GDP, an unprecedented single-year adjustment, even though it meant delaying the budget presentation to allow for time to prepare.
Similarly, up-front implementation is being sought for a number of other proposed reforms. The Government has therefore invested great effort in advancing pension reform, wage negotiations, reducing the effective size of the public sector establishment, tax administration, introduction of a centralised treasury management system and various pieces of enabling legislation such as the Public Debt Management Act and regulations governing the Fiscal Responsibility Framework.
Remaining Issues
The discussions with the Fund's technical staff are virtually at an end. In light of the Fund's negative assessment of the world's economy, there is a need for Jamaica to programme steeper debt reduction and buffers in order to maintain a robust downward trajectory in the debt ratio through to 2020.
The last issues on which we are now actively focused include:
1) the approach and timetable for a comprehensive policy on tax waivers and incentives, and
2) safeguards against fiscal slippage in this fiscal year and the examination of even higher primary surpluses, in the medium term, to underpin targets for debt reduction.
Following conclusion of the negotiations, there will be prior actions to be undertaken subject to the approval the Cabinet and the necessary consultations with local stakeholders. The completion of these will determine the timing of the IMF Board's approval.
The time that is being taken to reach agreement is not unusual, and there are complex and weighty issues at stake which will determine the future prospects of our country. There is no doubt also that the continued implementation of economic reform is going to require commitment and sacrifice by all Jamaicans.
Progress along this pathway will require fundamental changes in our normal operational patterns. We will have to be more efficient and more diligent in how the State operates and how we facilitate investors in order to create the better jobs and higher levels of economic growth which together promise a better future for Jamaica and its people.
Even as we issue this update, negotiations are continuing with the IMF to arrive at an agreement that is beneficial to the people of Jamaica.

Oliver Jones' Entrepreneurial Journey

I am looking forward to reading “Oliver Jones: An Entrepreneurial Journey” - the experiences of the evergreen insurance executive who rose above a huge loss to become one of Jamaica’s most inspiring motivational speakers. Oliver Jones, Chairman of the Office of Development Advisory Committee (ODAC) at UTech, built one of the largest insurance conglomerates in Jamaica, Island Life, and watched his company falter under stressful conditions.  Now he empowers others by delivering messages of positivity and resilience, and by walking his talk. The book is authored by Professor Rosalea Hamilton and Dr. Angela Ramsay, and is the first in a series of books from the UTech/ScotiaBank Chair in Entrepreneurship which addresses the subject from a development perspective within the Caribbean Region.

Friday, December 28, 2012

$186M for another J'can Super Lotto Winner

Kingston, Jamaica - 28 December 2012: Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) is pleased to announce that the Super Lotto Jackpot for tonight's draw #342 (December 28, 2012) in the amount of J$311M was hit by a player in Jamaica.

One lucky person with a J$150 ticket won the split price amount of the Super Lotto Jackpot with winning numbers 01, 03, 05, 07, 16 and Super Ball 10, just in time to ring in the new year 2013. This Super Lotto player won J$186,600,000 or the USD equivalent of $2,028,000. The live draw was held in the Dominican Republic and the delayed broadcast was shown on CVM TV in Jamaica at 9:30pm.

SVL started selling tickets on August 25, 2009 for the Super Lotto multi-jurisdictional game, which is the first game of its kind in the Caribbean and Latin America. The participating territories are: the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua, St. Maarten and the US Virgin Islands. In addition to Jamaica with 3 winners to date, the game has also produced winners in St. Maarten and Barbados respectively.

The lucky winner will be required to claim his/her prize in Jamaica at the Supreme Ventures Corporate Office. SVL will provide information on the winner as soon as the prize is claimed.

The next starting jackpot is $262 Million!

For further information, please contact: Sonia Davidson | Vice President - Group Corporate Communications
Supreme Ventures Limited | Tel: (876) 754-6526 ext. 2229 |  Email:

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Food for the Poor boosts Marine Police fleet

Representatives of the Police and Food for the Poor exchange pleasantries and get ready to take a test run in the refurbished 32-foot Contender Police Boat after the official hand-over of the vessel to the Marine Police Division by Food For the Poor(FFP) on Friday, December 28. From left (front row): Assistant Superintendent Oral Foster, Superintendent Terrence Sanko, Head of the Marine Police Division; Assistant Commissioner of Police Wray Palmer; and Nakhle Hado, Fishing Technical Manager, FFP. In the background (from left): Sergeant Dennyville Lyons and Boat Captain Nicholas Harrison. The boat will play a critical role in the search and rescue, and crime fighting efforts of the Marine Division. The vessel will also benefit the Food For The Poor (FFP) Fishing Villages, especially with regard to the recovery of stolen boats, search and rescue of missing fishermen.
 Newport East, Kingston – December 28, 2012: Food For The Poor today boosted the capabilities of the Marine Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) with the presentation to the Force of a refurbished 32-foot Contender Police Boat. The boat will play a critical role in the search and rescue, and crime fighting efforts of the JCF Marine Division.

The refurbished boat will redound to the benefit of the Food For The Poor (FFP) Fishing Villages. The charity has 17 fishing villages across the island as part of its FFP Fishing Villages Project, to empower the poor to be independent and self-sufficient. FFP equips the Fishing Villages with boats, gear sheds, engines and other necessary fishing paraphernalia.

Andrew Mahfood, Chairman, FFP Jamaica, explained that the repairs to the police boat were prompted by the vested interest which his organization has in the sustainability of the Fishing Villages: "The primary reason to refurbish the vessel is to ensure our villages get help when we need help. Our Fishing Villages depend on the police to be able to recover our boats if stolen and in an emergency we will require the services of the Marine Police if our fishermen go missing." The refurbished boat brings to 16, the number of boats which the Marine Police Division now has at its disposal.

Nakhle Hado, Fishing Technical Manager, FFP, today made the presentation of the refurbished boat to Assistant Commissioner of Police Wary Palmer and Superintendent Terrence Sanko, Head of the Marine Police Division, at the Newport East Headquarters of the Marine Police.  Mr. Hado pointed out that FFP saw that the boat which was being used by the Marine Police in St. Thomas was defective and in dire need of repairs and offered to undertake the refurbishing.

"I recognised the urgent need and offered to assist them," Mr. Hado disclosed. "We tried to finish the repairs as quickly as possible. It took us at FFP some eight weeks to undertake the refurbishing." Mr. Hado pointed out that it costs FFP over $400,000 to effect the repairs. The improvement included body repair and spray painting of the boat, installation of a bimini top as a roofing for the boat, and replacement of all gauges which included two tachometers, two  voltmeters, a main control switch as well as three gas gauges.  There were also replacement of fuel leads, gas valves and filters, and rewiring of the console and all instruments.

The FFP Fishing Technical Manager reiterated that his charity is delighted to refurbish the boat which will assist the Marine Police with strengthening its search and rescue and enforcement initiatives.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Wray Palmer expressed gratitude to Food For The Poor, on behalf of the JCF. "On behalf of the JCF, we thank Food For The Poor for assisting us and collaborating with us. We are quite grateful for the help," declared ACP Palmer.  He indicated that the boat will operate out of the Bowden Marina in St. Thomas and will serve the Marine Police monitoring the south east coast of Jamaica, particularly the St. Thomas coastal waters.

"It will benefit us significantly. This addition to our fleet will increase the police presence in our maritime space, as well as our drug intervention and interdiction capabilities," stated ACP Palmer. He pointed out that the new canopy on the boat will be important in shielding the Marine Police on duty, from the elements of the weather.

The boat has the capacity to comfortably transport four to eight crew members. In search and rescue efforts, it can carry up to 20 persons.

During today's hand-over ceremony, ACP Palmer, Nakhle Hado, Superintendent Sanko and other representatives of the Marine Police, and members of the media were taken on a test ride of the refurbished boat.

About Food For The Poor
Food For The Poor (FFP)-Jamaica is the largest charity organization in the country.  Food For The Poor Inc., located in Florida, USA, was named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the United States. It is an interdenominational Christian agency that does much more than feed the millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. FFP provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96% of all donations going directly to programmes that help the poor. For more information visit our Web site at


Nakhle Hado, Food For The Poor, T:  434-9922

Erica James-King, PROComm, T: 564-5277

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace'

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Lectionary: 14 

Reading 1 Is 9:1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13.

R. (Lk 2:11) Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.


Reading 2 Ti 2:11-14

The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

Gospel Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Monday, December 24, 2012

David Hall: ‘There’s something about Jamaica’

Jamaica Observer column for MON 24 DEC 2012 | by Jean Lowrie-Chin 
David Hall, Founder and CEO, VIP Attractions - owners and operators of Club Mobay and Club Kingston

Authentic cultural touches in a contemporary setting, attentive service, state-of-the-art technology – this is Club Mobay. (Let me hasten to say that we’re not responsible for their PR.)  Another non-Jamaican has succumbed to our country’s charms, and we are lucky that he is David Hall.  Many may know him as the former CEO of Digicel Jamaica, but David’s relationship with Jamaica goes back much further. His late father, the Caribbean representative for Ireland’s Waterford Crystal, had been coming to Jamaica since the 1970s and bringing his family here for their annual holidays. 

“There’s something about Jamaica that just grabs you,” confesses David, as he explained why he and partner Carlos Moleon decided to create VIP Attractions, owners and operators of the world-class VIP lounges in Jamaica’s two international airports. “We launched this business with limited resources and an abundance of passion.”

After leaving Digicel to pursue his own business interests, David Hall dedicated a year of his life to raising funds and directing the building of the Genesis Academy for Special Needs Children on South Camp Road.  The school’s board chairman Donna Lowe described the effort that went into obtaining the lease, gutting the old building, renovating and expanding it. “We have weekly meetings and David has driven the process. We are always wondering how this very busy man finds the time to do so much for us as well as donate to the project.”

No wonder a busy lady like Fae Ellington took the Northcoast Express in the wee hours of the morning to support the opening of Club Mobay.  “David is such a kind and caring person,” said Fae. “I just had to be here for him.”  Of course, typical David Hall – he was upset that Fae took the bus – he said he would have arranged transportation for her. 

This is why I, and many others of David Hall’s friends, will never tell him if we intend to use the lounges at either airport – he would want to give us a free pass.  Whenever he chides us for not telling him, we remind him that he does have to make enough to pay his staff!  In less than 18 months, VIP Attractions has created over 100 jobs for, in David’s words, ‘born and bred Jamaicans’. 

David and Carlos have the support of top corporate partners in giving visitors first-class Jamaican appeal: Scotiabank, Gleaner, Diageo and Digicel. The walls of both Club Mobay and Club Kingston are graced historical front pages of the Gleaner, researched by Gleaner’s Information Services Manager Mavis Williams and tastefully displayed by Isabel Barnes.  The partners’ dynamic wives, Liz Hall and Amanda Moleon are also actively involved in the business, with David remarking that Liz worked 12-hour days while raising their two sons right up to the day before the birth of their daughter, Marley six months ago.  Their first child’s middle name is Kingston.  No wonder PM Simpson Miller describes David, not as Irish-Jamaican, but ‘Irie-Jamaican’!

The official opening of Club Mobay coincided with the start of our Winter Tourist Season and the optimism from Government heavyweights was palpable.  Prime Minister Simpson Miller noted that we had an over 12% increase in arrivals in January to October of this year compared to the same period last year.  She said that the sector employed over 80,000 Jamaicans and earned 41% of our foreign exchange.  She called for national unity towards a safe, secure, stable national built environment, looking towards the completion of the Ocho Rios leg of Highway 2000.

Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill remarked that just the day before, over 5,000 visitors had passed through the Sangster International Airport.  He said that the new Russian carrier, Transaero Airlines, had signed up Club Mobay for their first class passengers. The Minister commented on the ‘fine workmanship of local manufacturers’ in Club Mobay’s facilities and said his government was promoting such linkages between tourism and other sectors. 

Security Minister Peter Bunting also noted the ‘joined-up government’ aspect of airport facilities and congratulated the dedicated Senior Superintendent of Police Andrew Lewis for his leadership in fighting crime in Montego Bay. 

The fine efforts of workers in the tourism industry need genuine support and not just talk – let us help dedicated Jamaicans keep their faith in their country.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

4th Sun of Advent - 'He himself will be peace.'

First Reading - Micah 5:1-4 ©
The Lord says this:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
the least of the clans of Judah,
out of you will be born for me
the one who is to rule over Israel;
his origin goes back to the distant past,
to the days of old.
The Lord is therefore going to abandon them
till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.
Then the remnant of his brothers will come back
to the sons of Israel.
He will stand and feed his flock
with the power of the Lord,
with the majesty of the name of his God.
They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power
to the ends of the land.
He himself will be peace.

PsalmPsalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19 ©
Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
  shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
  O Lord, come to our help.
Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.
God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
  look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
  the vine your right hand has planted.
Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.
May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
  the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
  give us life that we may call upon your name.
Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Second readingHebrews 10:5-10 ©
This is what Christ said, on coming into the world:
You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation,
prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin;
then I said,
just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book,
‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’
Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will.
He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.

Gospel AcclamationLk1:38
Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the handmaid of the Lord:
let what you have said be done to me.

GospelLuke 1:39-44 ©
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jamaican Fishermen Saved after Spending Weeks at Sea  

Everton Gregory, 54, and John Sobah, 58, are professional fishermen from the Food For The Poor fishing village in the town of Lyssons, St Thomas in Jamaica
Food for the Poor to fly back the men to Jamaica tomorrow

"We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. (Luke 15:24)
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2012) – Two fishermen are expected back in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday, after a day on the water in late November turned into a three-week adventure that landed them in the territorial waters of Colombia.
Everton Gregory, 54, and John Sobah, 58, are professional fishermen from the Food For The Poor fishing village in the town of Lyssons, which is located in St. Thomas Parrish on the eastern coast of the island.
When the men boarded the 28-foot fishing boat, they went with their tackle and just enough food and water for a few days.  When the time came to head back, the boat's motor failed.

After a day, when the men did not return, Food For The Poor sent out a search team that included a chartered plane and scanned the waters near Jamaica. When days turned into a week and when a search party turned up empty-handed, family and friends of Gregory and Sobah feared that both men were forever lost at sea. Out of radio range, the boat drifted for more than 20 days and more than 500 miles. The men survived by eating dried fish and sipping melted ice from their cooler. Before the fishermen were saved off the Caribbean island of Quitasueño near San Andrés, they went six days without water.
"With provisions running low, I can't even imagine what it must have been like for these two fishermen who were adrift for weeks in the Caribbean Sea without a soul or land in sight," said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. "We are thankful to God and to Colombia's officials for rescuing these fishermen and for helping us to return these men back to Jamaica in time to celebrate Christmas with their families."  

After the fishermen were picked up by a Colombian naval ship, they were taken to San Andrés where they received food and medical treatment. San Andrés is among the Colombian islands in the Caribbean Sea and is more than 400 miles away from Colombia's mainland. It is close to Nicaragua.

The matter was reported to the Jamaican Embassy in Bogota, where the necessary paper work was processed for the fishermen to return to Jamaica. The fishing boat was towed to Providencia, which is one of several islands in Colombia's chain of Caribbean islands.  

Both men say they are excited and grateful to be heading back to Jamaica and are calling their sea rescue a real life miracle.                                                                      
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.                                                                     

Friday, December 21, 2012


Thirty families affected by Hurricane Sandy to move into new homes for Christmas
Fruitful Vale, Portland – December 21, 2012: Four more families who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy have received keys to their new houses, built by Food For The Poor and financed by a $3 million donation by Supreme Ventures Ltd. This took place at a happy handing over ceremony in Fruitful Vale, Portland today. One more Portland family is to receive a new home among those financed by Supreme Ventures.
Today's ceremony brings the total number of families to receive this much-needed Christmas gift under the programme to 30. It follows yesterday's handing over of six of 10 new homes in Hamilton Mountain, St. Mary, by Food For the Poor and another corporate donor - Diageo/Red Stripe - who contributed $5.7 million. In addition, Food For The Poor has matched these donations to construct an addition 15 houses in St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas. The communities in St. Thomas, which are benefiting include Johns Town, Pamphret and Dumphries.
Food For The Poor and the corporate donors collaborated with the Portland/Eastern Parishes Hurricane Relief Fund, which was established on October 29, and had oversight for the relief initiative.
At the Fruitful Vale handing over ceremony today, Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica, explained that the families would receive not only sturdy new two bedroom houses, but a full range of furniture. This included, for each family, tables, chairs, stoves, beds, mattresses, stoves and solar lamps.
Mrs. Johnson noted that her early, first hand view of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy had made it clear to her that housing assistance would be critical. She offered sincere thanks to the supporting donors, to the Hurricane Relief Fund for allowing FFP to continue serving the poorest of the poor, and to the contractors and FFP team members who had worked tirelessly to ensure the completion of the homes. She also urged the recipients to take care of the structures, and hoped they would enjoy the gifts they represented.
Carlene Edwards, Supreme Ventures Corporate Communications Officer, shared the moving rationale for her company's involvement, saying:
"We are thrilled to have partnered with Food For The Poor in donating several houses for persons and families that have been severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in the parishes of Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary in October.  Our contribution of $3M to Food for the Poor, for the building of these units, will no doubt help to put these recipients' lives back together, especially, as we approach the yuletide season. Upon seeing the devastation that took place after the hurricane, we made a commitment to assist in this effort and today we are humbled to be on location, assisting with the restoration of so many families."
About Food For The Poor
Food For The Poor (FFP)-Jamaica is the largest charity organization in the country.  Food For The Poor Inc., located in Florida, USA, was named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the United States. It is an interdenominational Christian agency that does much more than feed the millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. FFP provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96% of all donations going directly to programmes that help the poor. For more information visit our Web site at 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Haiti, Digicel and Marriott Break Ground on More than Just a Hotel

Fruitful introduction: Laurent de Kousemaeker (left), chief development officer, Caribbean & Latin American Region, Marriott International in talks with Digicel Founder and Chairman Denis O'Brien after they were introduced at a Luncheon at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC hosted by then Ambassador to the USA for Jamaica, Hon Audrey Marks (right) to promote investment in Jamaica.  We are happy for our sister-country Haiti!

Marriott International, Inc. Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Marriott International, Inc.)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti and BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Digicel and Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) today broke ground on the $45 million 175-room Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand hotel in the Turgeau area of Port-au-Prince, with opening expected in early 2015, making it the first four-star branded hotel in Haiti.
At a ceremony to mark the occasion, Marriott International's President and Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorensen was joined by Digicel Chairman and Founder Denis O'Brien as well as the Minister of Tourism Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin.

Digicel Group is responsible for designing and building the hotel and chose Marriott International's signature Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand as its operating partner under a long-term management agreement. In addition to creating over 200 new hospitality jobs in Haiti, Marriott will invest in workforce training to benefit the country's tourism sector.
Kier is the main contractor chosen for the hotel project and Turgeau Developments SA is the operating company, in which Digicel is the investment partner.

The hotel sets a new standard of excellence for the growing number of business travelers coming to Haiti, combining a friendly, professional and safe environment and offering the exceptional service that Marriott International offers worldwide in all of its properties. The hotel is especially suitable for business meetings, conferences and events and will feature the most up-to-date facilities in the city. The ballroom will comfortably accommodate around 380 people for dining and around 500 theatre-style.

Digicel Group and its Chairman, Denis O'Brien, are committed to attracting foreign direct investment to Haiti and to helping the country rebuild in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake. Mr. O'Brien is Founder and Patron of the Digicel Foundation which to date has constructed 100 schools in Haiti. Further, as the Chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative's Haiti Action Network, Mr. O'Brien has been instrumental in driving the activity of 80 support organizations in Haiti to deliver on their commitments and in reconstructing the iconic Iron Market in Port-au-Prince.

Marriott International meanwhile aspires to have a signature hotel in every major capital city in the countries where it operates while being instrumental in stimulating business and attracting leisure visitors to Haiti. The 175-room Marriott Hotel Port-au-Prince will include five suites, a casual restaurant with private dining area, fitness center, swimming pool and a great room lobby that inspires creativity, productivity and social interaction with its conveniently dispersed zones including a bar and lounge. The property will also have a gift shop and marketplace and will offer guests 24 hour room service, WiFi and secure parking.

Marriott took on this project with particular reference to its thousands of Haitian associates who work in its U.S. hotels and urged the company to do what it did best and open a hotel in Haiti. Marriott will also use the Port-au-Prince location as a center for hotel training for local staff, helping to ensure that international standards of excellence are met and maintained.

Commenting on the project, Digicel Chairman Denis O'Brien, said; "We're delighted to be helping to bring the world-leading Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to Haiti.  Not only will this be a solution to the lodging issues in the city, it will also create jobs, attract foreign visitors and communicate a positive outlook for the future of Haiti. Haiti is a great place to invest and do business and I encourage others to take a look at the opportunities here."

Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, commented; "The presence of the world-leading Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand in Haiti is another clear indicator that Haiti is serious about attracting foreign direct investment. I would like to commend both Marriott International and Digicel Group on their tireless commitment to Haiti and on making their vision a reality. This is a huge vote of confidence in the future of Haiti and I look forward to the Marriott Hotel Port-au-Prince opening its doors in 2015."

About Marriott Hotels & ResortsMarriott Hotels & Resorts continues to inspire and provide a balanced life on the road for discerning and high-achieving business and leisure travelers, offering warm, professional service; sophisticated yet functional guest room design; lobby spaces that facilitate working, dining and socializing; restaurants and bars serving international cuisine prepared simply and from the freshest ingredients; meeting and event spaces and services that are gold standard; and expansive, 24-hour fitness facilities. All Marriott hotels participate in the award winning Marriott Rewards frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information, visit
About Digicel GroupAfter 11 years of operation, Digicel Group Limited has over 12.9 million customers across its 30 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network.
Digicel is the lead sponsor of Caribbean, Central American and Pacific sports teams, including the Special Olympics teams throughout these regions. Digicel sponsors the West Indies cricket team and is also the title sponsor of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. In the Pacific, Digicel is the proud sponsor of several national rugby teams and also sponsors the Vanuatu cricket team.
Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.
Digicel is incorporated in Bermuda and its markets comprise: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. Digicel also has coverage in St. Martin and St. Barts in the Caribbean.
Visit for more information.
SOURCE Marriott International, Inc.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ronnie Sutherland to head Observer's Radio Station

Heard from media guru Ronnie Sutherland that he is leaving CVM and will be General Manager for the new Jamaica Observer Radio Station!
Ronnie was a pillar at CVM-TV and we know he will continue to be an outstanding leader in his new post.

Note from Ronnie

"I'd like to let you know that I am leaving my position at CVM Television on December 31, 2012.
"I have enjoyed my tenure at CVM and I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided me during my time at CVM.
"Even though I will miss my colleagues, clients, and the company, I am looking forward to starting a new phase of my career."
- Ronnie Sutherland

Sent via my Digicel BlackBerry

President Obama is Time 'Person of the Year'

From Huffington Post 

President Barack Obama has been named Time's Person of the Year.
Managing editor Richard Stengel unveiled the magazine's choice on Wednesday's "Today." He said it was remarkable that the president won two terms with over 50 percent of the popular vote as a Democrat. He also noted that Obama took office in an economic crisis, and credited him with creating a new political "alignment like Ronald Reagan did forty years ago."
This is the second time that Time has chosen Obama. The magazine said it named him Person of the Year in 2008 for winning against the odds and becoming the first black president of the United States.
"For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is TIME's 2012 Person of the Year," Stengel explained in his note this year.
Time's Michael Scherer wrote in a profile of the president:
Beyond the Oval Office, overwhelming challenges remain: deadlocked fiscal-cliff talks; a Federal Reserve that predicts years of high unemployment; and more unrest in places like Athens, Cairo and Damascus. But the President seems unbound and gives inklings of an ambition he has kept in check ever since he arrived at the White House to find a nation in crisis.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Food for the Poor Joy

6. Food for the Poor
Food for the Poor is rated the Number One International Charity and the Number Six US Charity by Forbes Magazine. The organisation has so far raised US$930 million to serve the poor in 16 Caribbean and Latin American countries.  Food for the Poor was founded in Jamaica by Jamaican Ferdie Mahfood 29 years ago.

Towards Exoneration of Rt Hon Marcus Garvey - Another Milestone


Brothers and Sisters,
Congratulations! We've reached our 2012 goal of 2,000 signatures!
And a lot of things are changing. A few weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking with Queen Mother Dr. Delois N. Blakely about the petition to exonerate the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Along with her blessing, she invoked the memory of the ancestors Queen Mother Moore, Mwalimu Dudley Thompson, and Mwalimu Dr. Julius Nyrere, and instructed me to broaden the scope of our petition.
And this is where you come in. For if there's one thing I've learned from the work of Marcus Garvey, it's that we will have to accomplish this redemptive task for ourselves.
In Queen Mother Blakely's view, those of us who live in the United States should contact our representatives in the House of Representatives to reintroduce HB 24, which was presented by Representative Charles Rangel to the Congress in January 2007. She also stated that Representative John Conyers would be a worthy ally in our cause.
If you would like to help with contacting other members of the House of Representatives, please send me an email, so that we can coordinate our efforts. I am including my online petition to Representative Frederica Wilson as a template. We'll begin on January 7, 2013. I'll be using

If you would like to volunteer for this online petition or any others to the governments of the UK, Canada, Caribbean, or African Union, please send me an email, so that we can coordinate our efforts. We'll also begin on January 7, 2013.
We will also need help with any Black organizations, fraternities, and sororities that will be willing to assist with the original petition. Let's start a Marcus Garvey network so that WE can support ALL Garvey efforts!
Over the holidays, as we continue to work toward the exoneration of the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, please take some time to love and cherish your families because at the heart of our struggle, family is what it's all about.
Take care of your selves and your loved ones.
One Love,

Picture Taken By NASA Of India On Diwali Night

The Indian Festival of lights ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Simon Crosskill to Host and Produce CVM’s Live @7

CVM Television announced today that Simon Crosskill has joined the station as the executive producer and presenter for the very popular Live@7 programme. Simon Crosskill comes with a plethora of experience in television broadcasting, having spent the last 18 years as a lead presenter and sportscaster at BBC and on local and regional television networks. During this period Simon distinguished himself by winning numerous industry awards.

"I am excited and look forward to working with the team to further the development of what is already an impressive programme. I am feeling particularly fortunate at this time since this opportunity provides me with the perfect platform to facilitate expressions on a broad range of issues that are not necessarily sports." says Simon.

CVM Television is a member of the CVM Television Group that also includes HOT 102 FM and CVM Productions. For more information, contact Mr. Ronnie Sutherland at 931-9400.

CVM Television is the official broadcaster of 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Minister Peter Phillips soldiers on

Jamaica's Minister of Finance and Planning Hon. Peter Phillips
Jamaica Observer column | by Jean Lowrie-Chin | 17 December 2012
Poor Peter Phillips – he is like that humble family member who settles for the least favourite part of the chicken just to keep the peace. As we heard him speaking earnestly at last week's PSOJ Christmas lunch, we reflected on his previous ministerial roles.  He had transport to sort out when he inherited a system of hard-driving “robots” back in the early 90s. Having finally reorganised that, he was rewarded with the post of minister of national security when donmanship reigned. Now, even with the least popular and most taxing (pardon the pun) ministry of them all, he declared to us, “We shall overcome! I remain confident in the prospects…there is no need to languish in the grip of panic or negativism.”

As expected, he accused the previous government of foot-dragging in their dealings with the International Monetary Fund.  Now that nearly a year has passed since his party assumed power and we hear new lows for our dollar daily, he assured us that he would “ensure that order is maintained in the foreign exchange market”. Regarding the progress of talks with the IMF, he disclosed that a “staff-level agreement” should be reached by year end, and a formal board-approved decision “early in the new year”.

Assuring us that he had made severe cuts in expenditure and implemented revenue-raising measures, Minister Phillips made a telling observation. He said other members of the Parliament have been touting expenditure, leaving only the minister of finance and the prime minister concerned about the revenue side. It led us to wonder why then create such a large Cabinet, if there is a shortage of good china.

We have no doubt that our finance minister has been working hard and that he is a sincere individual. What puzzles us is that he and other ministers of his calibre raised no objection when inexperienced people were selected to sit as their equals in the Cabinet. Despite the positive strides of some ministries, vexing issues and low productivity continue to destroy our reputation and our economy.

We sigh in frustration when we try to reach certain government offices. We can sympathise when a private sector leader noted that a letter took two days to make it from downstairs to upstairs at one agency. Meanwhile, our office policy is to answer the phone within three rings, answer e-mails within an hour and return all calls within a day. We must do this because if we do not account for every hour we expend for a client, we cannot bill for it. Yet we are in the dark about what really is produced in these expansive buildings, bleeding the UDC $109 million per month of the taxes we struggle to pay!

Although Minister Phillips assured us that “public sector reform is on track” and that he looked forward to a further wage freeze for 2012-2014 with public sector workers, the Nurses Association of Jamaica was singing a completely different tune last week – they voted unanimously that they would not entertain such a thought. How can one blame these valiant underpaid professionals who can scarcely dream of those salaries and perks enjoyed by ministers and their advisers?

But it's Christmas, so let us try this. Reach out to your minister, member of parliament or councillor. Find out how you can partner with them to help build your community, constituency and country. Walk with them, talk with them, and tell us the response.  I believe if we approach folks in a positive way, if we appeal to their higher selves, they will respond. 

Read more at:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meteor showers Geminids ---plus more!


Dec. 11, 2012:  If you're outdoors after sunset this week, be alert for meteors. Not only is the Geminid meteor shower active as Earth passes through a stream of debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, but also, say forecasters, a new meteor shower could make an appearance.
New Shower (comet, 200px)
Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Photo credit: T. Credner, J. Jockers, T.Bonev / Max-Planck-Institut fur Aeronomie, [more]
"The source of the new shower is Comet Wirtanen," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Dust from this comet hitting Earth's atmosphere could produce as many as 30 meteors per hour."

Computer models run by Russian forecaster Mikhail Maslov predict as many as four stream crossings between Dec. 10th and 14th.

"This time period also includes the peak of the strong annual Geminid meteor shower," notes Cooke.

To sky watchers, he recommends having a "meteor night" after sunset on Dec. 13th, when the criss-crossing debris streams could produce the greatest combined number of shooting stars. "Meteors from the new shower (if any) will be visible in the early evening, with the Geminids making their appearance later on and lasting until dawn," he says.

Lowrie-Chin Post passes quarter million views

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