Thursday, July 3, 2014

There is only one Jamaica

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Wykeham McNeill (right) breaks ground for the Courtyard by Marriott in New Kingston last July. Sharing in the occasion are (from left) Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Chairman Stephen Facey, and Opposition spokesman on tourism, Ed Bartlett. (PHOTO: BRYAN CUMMINGS)
by Jean Lowrie-Chin | published in Jamaica Observer | 16 June 2014

Over the past week, there have been signals that interest in Jamaica has not waned.  Yes, it is true that Alcoa has pulled out, but look how many are still here, establishing or expanding their operations. 
On either side of our office building at Kingsway, two residential developments are heading to fast completion.   The Marriott Hotel complex at Knutsford Boulevard is moving apace – and Sagicor has broken ground in St Ann for the largest waterpark in the Caribbean.
During the exodus of the seventies, I noted with interest that the very wealthy were staying put.  Yes, they were raising their fences and sharpening their defenses, but they were not leaving. After 9/11, I noticed that several who had been away were back and looking.  It may have been a coincidence that Jamaican-Canadian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin took NCB off the auction block in 2002, a few months after that day of terror in North America.

A BRIGHT MOMENT FOR JAMAICAN TOURISM: Celebrating Jamaica’s global success are from left: Terry Evans, President of Priority Pass, David Hall, Executive Chairman of VIP Attractions, and Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing. Priority Pass not only named Club Kingston as the top travel lounge in the world, but also announced that Club Mobay had copped awards for Best Staff and Customer Service.
Last week, Irish-Jamaican entrepreneur David Hall, received kudos for his company’s Club Kingston Travel Lounge, which was voted best in the world, beating a field of 700 lounges in 500 airports.  The Priority Pass President Terry Evans who was here to present the award, singled out the showcasing of Jamaica’s culture in both Club Kingston and Club Mobay for special mention and said it was the first lounge under three years old, that had copped the award. 
Instead of resting on his laurels, David Hall announced that he has three new programmes to start this year with the intention of moving the number of employees at the operating company, VIP Attractions, from 172 to 250 by year end.

We should therefore heed the call of Dr Omar Davies, Minister of Roads, Works and Housing when he commended the vision of David Hall. “Do not stay on the sidelines,” he urged. “If resources are limited, form a consortium and seek to maximize on the opportunities here.” Here is something that we all know, but we don’t seem to understand: there is only one Jamaica.  This is the third largest English speaking country in the Americas, coming behind the US and Canada.  We have the sixth best natural harbor in the world, and with good training, we also have some of the finest workers. 

GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby: “If it doesn’t get measured, it won’t get done.” 
But we cannot ignore the threats to our development: crime, an increasing number of failing schools and environmental degradation. It is sad that some of our leaders are using political positions as ‘jobs for the girls and boys’ instead of facilitating a healthier private sector where they would get good pay for real work.  We have heard media interviews with some of those misfits appointed to posts hurriedly emptied of non-political executives – they bring no credit to the organisations on which they have been foisted.

According to a JIS report, Jamaica received additional multilateral funding support, totaling just over $15 billion (US$140 million), from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) earlier this year, towards our Government’s Fiscal Structural and Competitiveness Programmes. We hope the IDB will be satisfied with the results.  Now that all these new taxes are burdening the same beleaguered honest business persons, we must insist that we are getting value for our money. As GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby commented in a radio interview recently, “If it doesn’t get measured, it won’t get done.” 

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