Friday, March 31, 2017

A futurist, a PM, a path for Jamaica

Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin - published  MON 27 March 2017 

Edie Weiner - JIS photo
The address by futurist Edie Weiner last Monday gave us a thought-provoking context for the Budget Presentation by Prime Minister Andrew Holness the next day.  New Yorker Edie Weiner is the principal of Future Hunters, which for over forty years, has been using data to predict future developments, with impressive results.  At an event presented by the Jamaica Chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), she challenged the roomful of leaders to rethink education, to capitalize on Jamaica’s youthful population, to respect them so that they in turn will respect our environment.

Ten years ago, she says her high calibre clients were so impressed by her guidance, that they wondered how she was getting it so right.  She explained that her team uses 30 different thought processes to arrive at their recommendations.  Learn more at
Most important of all, she says, is to recognize your ‘educated incapacity’, as you can “know so much about what you already know that you are not looking outside”.  She observed that educated people having acquired so much knowledge, that they hang on to it like an expensive piece of luggage.  This is backward, as she pointed out that while we are hanging on to these brand-name “bags”, someone is racing into the future with their futuristic “backpacks”.
PM Holness with business leader Richard Byles
Therefore it was encouraging that in his budget presentation (well worth the read at  PM Holness recognized the huge potential the global market has for outsourcing.  He noted: “The first segment to have been established and the largest in relative terms is the Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) segment where activities are focused on providing information technology support … Currently the market for ITO services globally is US$76Billion. The second segment is the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) segment which is linked to the outsourcing of administrative services and back office tasks ...The global market for BPO services is US$38Billion.  The third segment is the Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) segment which involves knowledge-based services including research and development, innovation, design, testing, business consultancy, legal services, accounting, medical and biotechnology services among others that require highly skilled personnel and involve more value-added activities… Knowledge process outsourcing is the fasted growing segment in the industry, with an average growth rate of over 8.6% compared to the industry average of 4.1%.  Jamaica is well poised to do well in this segment.”

While these are great plans, we should heed Edie Weiner’s warnings that the rapid advance of technology is creating disruption.  She noted that what was described as a recession in the early 90s was actually a result of the new disruptive technology. “This was not a recession,” she said, “it was a fundamental global revolution”.
She says, when asked the question “what should children be studying now to be assured of employment?” her answer is that they should become plumbers, electricians and stone masons. Weiner urged an emphasis on critical thinking in education, stating, “In the future no one will be paying for “smart”. They will pay for the intelligence that enables you to figure out things that you have never seen before.”

Our ‘unattached youth’

Weiner’s advice should be taken on board, as the Government develops the Employment aspect of their commendable HOPE Programme.  “It is estimated that there is a pool of approximately 120,000 to 130,000 young persons between 15 and 24 years of age who are not in school, not in a programme of training, and are unemployed,” noted PM Holness. “While a considerable portion of the unattached would have other institutions, which keep them engaged and supported, such as their family, their church, community activities or sports, a significant proportion of them have no structure, order or guidance in their life.”

 “Many of them would not be in institutions long enough to develop character and good citizenship, positive attitudes and skills to assist them in negotiating the challenges of life,” said the Prime Minister. “We see them on the street corners every day when we are going to work and we see them at the same place when we are coming home.  They are at home every day becoming increasingly hopeless and frustrated … These are the most productive years in the human lifecycle and we cannot afford to lose the productive value of our human resource. This is also the age group that is most affected by crime and violence.” With so many unattached youth, we should not wonder at the mindlessness and cruelty of recent crimes; the tragedy at Monteith’s, a respected landmark on Mountain View Avenue is horrifying. I believe we should incentivise more students to become social workers.

We have seen the transformation of such communities as Grant’s Pen and Trench Town when young people have been offered training to make them employable. Being sensitive to their immediate needs, when we led the partnership of the Stella Maris Foundation with HEART/NTA, we established the Norma Chang Daycare Centre so that young women could have a safe place to leave their children while they attended classes. 

As we consider Weiner’s reminder that the fastest period for brain growth is between 0 to 3 years old, we congratulate the previous and current Boards of the Early Childhood Commission in the Ministry of education led by Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan and Trisha Williams-Singh.  Both women continue to collaborate as they have a healthy respect for what each brings to the table:  academic understanding of the issues, and sound organisational skills. Thus, the certification of early childhood institutions is being accelerated to give those precious young minds every chance for healthy development.

The Prime Minister noted that several educational bodies would be merged. “The services would be more effective, have greater reach and enroll more numbers if they were streamlined and coordinated. The government has therefore decided to merge HEART Trust/NTA, the NYS, JFLL, and the Apprenticeship Board in to a single entity,” he said. The streamlining of technology for the public sector should promote greater efficiency at less cost for this and other such mergers.
Let’s drop that expensive but burdensome baggage of old thinking – we have Bolt as our symbol of the world-beating speed we can achieve with our own homegrown talent and strategic application.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Governor-General Inspires Knox College

Students of Knox College direct The Governor-General’s attention to a display from the Science Club. Mrs Dorothy Miller, Board Chairperson of  the Knox Group of Schools and Mr Alexander Borne, Principal of Knox College, look on.
March 24, 2017, King's House:  Governor-General the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen in a thought provoking and electrifying speech inspired students and teachers at the Knox College to rise above challenges, seize the moment and succeed.

Speaking at his annual school tour designed to coincide with the institution's 70th anniversary celebration on Thursday March 23, 2017, His Excellency told a packed auditorium at the Spalding based campus that, "many person's achievements were born out of difficult periods when they decided that they must defy the odds and succeed."

In emphasizing the importance of education, The Governor-General told his rapt audience that it is the most important acquisition for young people to move from poverty and ignorance to a 
position of influence. 

"Today is a demonstration of the 'Culture of Excellence' that is being nurtured here, and I applaud the teachers for helping to ingrain that keen sense of corporate social responsibility in each student," The Governor-General also observed.

Highlighting the success of Abrahim Simmonds, a Governor-General - I Believe Initiative (IBI) Ambassadors and this year's Queen's Young Leader Awardee for Jamaica, His Excellency shared how Abrahim is inspiring and energizing communities through his own 
Governor-General endorsed youth empowerment initiative, JAYECAN.

"Tap into useful and reliable resources in your teachers, parents and mentors…Be an IBIAmbassadors and help to spread positive values and "gleams of hope all across our country," Sir Patrick Allen encouraged the students.

Also explaining the formation of a pearl which is the result of agitation and irritation, The Governor-General reassured students that, at Knox, "your pearl within is being formed." 

"There is no reason you who have sight, brain, hands and feet - cannot do well regardless of any challenge that you face," The Governor-General stated. 

In the wide-ranging address The Governor-General also urged students to be more careful in their environments, and parents and teacher to be more protective of the children in light of the 
recent abduction of women and children.

"It is everybody's business to 'shun the negatives' within homes, schools, communities and even our churches," Sir Patrick Allen charged.

Meanwhile, Mr. Alexander Borne, Principal of Knox College shared his elation about the The Governor-General's seminal visit and tour of the institution at a time when they are 'Celebrating
Excellence, Inspiring the Future.'

The occasion was attended by government officials, business leaders and stakeholders of education. 

For More Information, Contact:
Ms. Sonja Simms
Press Secretary
Office of the Governor- General and Staff
King's House, Jamaica 
1-876- 927-6827/ 550-9460 /564-8043

CCRP Skills Bank for Retirees

The Caribbean Community if Retired Persons - CCRP - has a Skills Bank as we know that our Seniors have so much to offer. Below is our latest mail to members:

Dear Members

A Kingston based company that does sales and seminars for major companies in Jamaica and the Caribbean is inviting applications from CCRP members
for the following position:

Bookkeeper/Accounting Clerk
Duties include assistance to input accounts into Quickbooks and
prepare business and personal tax returns for their clients.

Requirements: Applicants must be familiar with general accounting principles and Quickbooks. 

The initial period of employment will be full time for two months
and thereafter on a part time basis.

Interested members should reply to this message with a current resume,
If you are already in our Skills Bank and we have your current resume, simply
reply stating your interest and we will forward  your resume



 Stay in touch with us at:
(876) 469 1944
Phoenix Central, 2 Phoenix Ave; Kgn 10
Office hours are Mon - Fri, 10 am - 2 pm

Twitter: @ccrpjamaica

Jean Lowrie-Chin JP MA
Executive Chairman
Phoenix Central | 2 Phoenix Ave
Kingston 10 | JAMAICA WI
P 876 665 5025 | M 876 381 5158

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Portia Simpson Miller’s historic journey

Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller 
Observer column published 20 March 2017 
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Portia Simpson Miller’s budget presentation last week was in fact a fond farewell. What a journey she has had – serving for over 40 years as Member of Parliament of South West St. Andrew, a constituency of serious challenges, the type that women politicians tend to inherit. It took courage for young Councillor Portia Simpson to step up and campaign to become a parliamentarian, and even more to seek the presidency of the People’s National Party. This column has commented on her exciting career and so today we share excerpts.
From ‘The People Said Portia’ – January 2012
Hearty congratulations to that seasoned campaigner Portia Simpson Miller, president of the People's National Party (PNP) …When G2K copied media an urgent letter protesting a delay by a television station in carrying an anti-Portia ad, I wrote back, "Enough is enough"… Malcolm Gladwell, that gifted writer with Jamaican roots, said that to excel at anything you need to do it 10,000 times. That is why our most memorable mentors are the seniors in our lives. That is why one should never underestimate the political clout of that grassroots veteran Portia Simpson Miller.

… And so, as Portia Simpson Miller ascended the stage at PNP headquarters last Thursday night, flashing her famous smile, and hugging her candidates one after the other, we saw a woman practiced in the way of politics, hitting all the right notes and ensuring that there was "no piece of paper" in her hand.

She started with a well-known Bible verse. Then the DJ played Tony Rebel's song, "Mind what yu say to yu sister, she could be the next prime minister" … She thanked among many, "Comrade PJ Patterson", her helper Marva and Andrew Holness who had called to congratulate her, saying that "he was very gracious". She referred to the welcome sight we saw more of in this than any other previous election, "PNP supporters in orange and JLP supporters in their green hugging in friendly rivalry".

 From ‘Dream realised’  -  5 September 2016
Portia Simpson Miller is not simply the Leader of the Opposition, or the President of the People’s National Party.  She is the fulfilled dream of thousands of Jamaican women, who saw this humble girl from Woodhall, St. Catherine, rise through the political ranks to become the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. She is the young girl who grew up to have a fairy-tale wedding, her wedding dress floating royally on the lawns of the University Chapel as she married one of Jamaica’s most respected business executives Errald Miller. 
Now that she has entered this challenging phase of her political career, let us tread softly as we tread not only on her extraordinary career, but also on the dreams of thousands of humble Jamaican women.  Their utterances of support over the past week are not simply blind political ‘followership’; they are a call for respect for a woman who rose through the patriarchal ranks of politics. 
As we have heard women leaders here and abroad reflect on their challenges, we realise how difficult it is for those of us who ‘hold up half the sky’ to ascend to these high seats of office.  I am not excusing any of the shortcomings of our leaders.  However, it is interesting the level of scrutiny to which women leaders are subject compared to their male counterparts.  Think on these things.
From “What is Mrs Simpson Miller’s next move?” - 5 December 2016
We have watched her rise from humble KSAC Councillor to Prime Minister of Jamaica.  Portia Simpson Miller has cut an impressive figure in line-ups of regional and global leaders, and has scored a double-page in Time Magazine as one of their personalities of the year.  Her visceral political campaigning has made her a hero to her followers and the fear of her opponents.
… As Hillary Clinton will attest, and nearer to home, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the road for women in politics is that much narrower and rougher.  In this male-dominated field of endeavour, women must not only match up to those qualities expected of men in power, but they must also become the pious mother as well as the fashion plate imposed by the glamour media on women.  Owning campaign platforms with her strong voice, becoming ‘Mama P’ to her constituents and striding out in impeccable suits, Portia Simpson Miller was able to accomplish more than any other Jamaican woman politician.  She ascended to the presidency of the PNP, retaining the position despite several challenges, and served as Prime Minister twice.
Women who choose politics as a career are very brave indeed, and clearly Portia Simpson Miller is one of our bravest. Still, this year marks her 40th Anniversary as a Member of Parliament, and her tenth as PNP President. Before the applause stops and the harsh criticisms escalate, we believe that it would be a good time for Mrs Simpson Miller to resign from the PNP presidency, and representational politics.  She will quickly be forgiven for those lapses of temper, and her many other accomplishments will position her as a stateswoman and an icon of feminist determination.

… May she take this decision to prayer, and know that her place in history as Jamaica’s first woman Prime Minister is a very special and lasting one.

And today … Salute!

We salute Portia Simpson Miller.  Her Budget presentation was indeed presidential, and the standing ovation from both sides of the House, affirmed her undisputed stature. May she have a long and happy retirement, in the knowledge that she has made her mark, not only on the political landscape of Jamaica, but on our national consciousness.  Her life’s work is a message to all Jamaican women and girls: “Yes, you can”. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

MAJ comments on Health Insurance Tax

March 16, 2017
Image result for dr myrton smith jamaica
Dr Myrton Smith
President, Medical Association of Jamaica

Universal Health Care is a concept that forms an important part of any nation's push towards prosperity. The removal of any impediment to the average citizen's access to health care is vital. It is a goal that is endorsed by the World Health Organization. Jamaica recognized this and in 2008, user fees were completely removed in all public health facilities (except the University Hospital of the West Indies). 
While we endorse the concept, we recognize our limitations in terms of our ability as a nation to afford 'free health care" for everyone. With less than 4% of GDP spent annually on the health sector, the financing of healthcare in Jamaica remains suboptimal. 
One strategy utilized by many countries is to have national health insurance schemes that force persons to contribute to a health insurance policy when they are well, so that when they are ill, they can be taken care of. Jamaica currently has no such national health insurance scheme. It was an important part of the manifesto of the current government that such a plan would be launched. Not much has been heard recently about the status of the plans for this scheme.
Private health insurance, either through group or individual policies, represents an important​ means of allowing persons to have access to quality health care. It is estimated that currently only around 25 – 30% of Jamaicans have private health insurance. We are concerned that the government's move to apply GCT to health insurance premiums will drive up the cost of insurance, with the risk that many persons will be unable to afford it. Alternatively, persons may have to review and revise their coverage options and become underinsured. 
We anticipate that more persons will flock to the already overburdened public healthcare facilities. The thought that employers will volunteer to bear the costs related to the payment of GCT is at best erroneous and at worst disingenuous. The government as a major employer and a large purchaser of group health insurance has a track record of passing on increases in premiums on to the employees. This is what they have done over the years to the medical doctors. Why then would we expect that the government will behave differently with this new tax or that other employers would be any more willing to absorb the cost.
We are particularly concerned about the impact that this will have on the management of major killers such as non-communicable diseases like cancer. Cancer treatment in the public sector is woefully suboptimal with recurrent shortages in chemotherapy drugs and long waiting times for access to outmoded radiotherapy. It is often private health insurance that allows many persons to access chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the private sector. What will happen to those who are forced to opt out of health insurance? 
We still await the promised introduction of the linear accelerators at St. Josephs' Hospital and the troubled Cornwall Regional Hospital, both of which should have been operational by February of 2017. 
With the introduction of additional financial burdens on Jamaicans in need of health care, it is a good time for the government to unveil how they plan to improve the delivery of health care to all Jamaicans. There is the need to fast track changes that will make a positive impact.
Dr. Myrton Smith
Medical Association of Jamaica

Sister Mary Paschal – what a life!

Jamaica Observer column published 6 March 2017 
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Sister Mary Paschal Figueroa, addressing the Congregation at the celebration of her 80th Anniversary as a Sister of Mercy last August.
In this week celebrating International Women’s Day, we visit the legendary Sr. Mary Paschal Figueroa, a Religious Sister of Mercy, whose life started with the end of World War I in 1918.  When we arrive at the Claver Home for retired nuns at Mount Mercy, in the cool hills of Widcombe, St. Andrew, she pushes her wheeled walker to meet me and says with a twinkle, “Do you like my BMW?” 
Archbishop Kenneth Richards
 - photo from Loop Jamaica 
Yes, the 98-year-old Sister Paschal’s wit and memory are quite intact, as she recounts her early life in Panama, and her zigzag throughout Jamaica as teacher, principal and hospital administrator.  The intrepid nun was St. Catherine High principal from 1972 to 1990, responsible for its growth into one of the largest high schools in the Caribbean, with an enrolment of over 3,000 students.
It is remarkable that out of her resolve to make the once all-girls school co-educational, despite many protests, two of the outstanding male graduates that emerged are Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston Most Rev. Kenneth Richards.
Sister Paschal chuckles as she relates that one day, a teacher sent four boys to her office to be disciplined but when she saw that one of them was the well-behaved Kenneth Richards, she said to him, “You are a good boy, you can go back to the classroom,” and then lectured the other three. The beloved educator is grateful that it was at St. Catherine High that Prime Minister Holness and his wife, Member of Parliament Mrs. Juliet Holness met, and said that he had called her recently.
Last year as Sr. Paschal planned her 80th Anniversary Mass, she requested that Archbishop Richards be the chief celebrant.  When the Archbishop explained that he had to attend a Conference in Martinique, Sr. Paschal would have none of it.  So the Archbishop respectfully acquiesced, travelling for an entire day to return on time. She speaks glowingly of Archbishop Ken and his wonderful family whom she regards as her good friends.

Statue of Christopher Columbus in
Colon, Panama
Born Maria Elise Figueroa, Sister Paschal had lived in Panama with her Jamaican parents, as her father had been appointed as a Manager of the United Fruit Company in Panama.  She recalls living in a building opposite to the statue of Christopher Columbus which still stands, with her five brothers. She enjoyed school: she said her teacher praised and rewarded her with the princely sum of 50 cents who had her stand on the desk to recite her timetables to motivate her classmates.  All of her primary education was therefore in Spanish.

When Elise, as she was called, was 13, her mother, a Convent of Mercy ‘Alpha’ Academy graduate, decided that her daughter should attend this excellent school in Jamaica also. After a tearful embrace with her mother in 1931, she became a boarder at the Academy and was inspired by the dedicated Sisters of Mercy who taught and cared for their students.

Elise Figueroa enjoyed those Alpha days, and activities with St. George’s College students. The lovely, witty Elise attracted the attention of several young men, one in particular was very good at sports and would give her all his prizes.  He was quite disappointed when she told him of her life-changing decision.

After sitting the Senior Cambridge examinations in 1935, Elise felt drawn to the convent.  She was encouraged in her vocation by Sr. Marie Therese Watson of the famous Watson family.  (Sister Marie Therese’s nephew is Merrick Needham) and Jesuit priest Fr. Fred Berrigan. She wrote her parents in Panama to say that she would have something very important to tell them when she returned home at Christmas.

When she told them, her father said “If God wants my one girl, I am happy to give her to God,” and her mother was in full agreement.

St Peter Claver
She took a ship back to Jamaica stopping in Cartagena where she visited the place where St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who reached out slaves, had lived and worked. She said this priest would attend to the sad and hurt Africans as they came off the slave ships in Cartagena, comforting and washing their wounds. It was that Saint’s name which was taken by the founder of Alpha, Jessie Ripoll, when she became a Sister of Mercy.

When Mrs. Figueroa handed over 18-year-old daughter to Mother Superior Vianney of the Sisters of Mercy, the nun did not encourage a long farewell.  “It is time to say goodbye,” she said after a few short minutes. The mother and daughter held each other and cried. 

“I knew that I would not be able to see my family for a very long time  because we were not even allowed early visits although we were allowed to write to each other so it was very sad,” said Sr. Paschal.  “I had an aunt who lived at Emerald Road who I was able to visit from time to time in the company of another nun. When I went to visit my brother in California, again accompanied by a Sister of Mercy, I was instructed that I could eat there but not at the same table as the family.” 

A few years ago, her St Catherine High Alumni hosted her and Sister Mimi on a trip to the US where they honoured her for the life-changing improvements she made at the school, including a machine shop for metal work, an agricultural programme, and the formation of football, basketball, cricket and netball teams. 

Sister harked back to her earlier days as an educator, first at her alma mater, and then at a school in Seaforth Town in St. Elizabeth, where a very strict priest, Fr. Kemple controlled the electric lights.  When she arrived there for the first time, he switched off the lights before she could ascend the convent steps. Luckily the resident nun emerged to guide her by candlelight.

She said that her trip to St. Elizabeth was eventful.  Father Louis Genier had given her a lift, and on the way, their two suitcases fell out of the car. By the time they were alerted, only Fr. Grenier’s suitcase was found.  To this day, she wonders what the thieves did with her two long black gowns and veils.

She said that her next assignment was at Mt. St. Joseph Academy in Mandeville where they had boarders from Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti.  However they was only one radio so they had a strict time-table so that each set of boarders could listen to the news from their respective countries.  She said that the parents of the girls considered their graduation very significant and brought beautiful gowns.

It was between assignments that Sr. Paschal attended Our Lady of Cincinnati College where she gained an Education Degree majoring in Science and Spanish. 

Retirement from education was no time for rest, as then Archbishop Lawrence Burke had noted Sister Paschal’s administrative skills, and assigned her to run the deteriorating St. Joseph’s Hospital.  In that first year 1988, hurricane Gilbert hit.  She remembers seeing the rooftop fly from the Consie Walters Hospice and settle on the Operating Theatre.  She arranged a quick rescue of the patients.   

To her surprise, she saw coming up the hospital driveway a grocer, Al Brady, pushing a deep freeze.  He said he had bought a lot of fresh meat recently, had no electricity and was begging her to allow him to use her generator to save.  She allowed him to keep his products there for two weeks and says “to this day, he has never forgotten.  Every Christmas he brings me a valuable gift.”  Sister believes in preserving relationships and when I was with her, her cell phone rang several times with friends checking on her.

Because of her failing eyesight, one of her long time Alpha students has sent her a ‘talking watch’ and she showed me how you press a button to hear the time and another for the date.  Sr. Paschal is up there with technology. “I am going for the hundred you know my dear,” she says and we believe she is well on her way there. 

I asked this inspiring 98-year-old what advice could she give us to face life’s many challenges. Her response: “For me, I saw every change and every request as God’s will.  Don’t ever be afraid because God is always believing in you, encouraging you and supporting you.”

Jamaica getting well-tuned

Excerpt from Observer column published 20 FEB 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Garfene Grandison posted a query in social media about the heavy traffic in the Corporate Area since the beginning of the year.  My response was that I was hearing and seeing growing interest in Jamaica.  The latest Don Anderson Business Confidence Survey indicates a positive outlook from businesses and high expectations from consumers.  

Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter
We are able to track the facts and figures on national development via regular reports from The Economic Growth Council, The Economic Programme Oversight Committee and The Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee. Only last week, Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor Brian Wynter announced that Jamaica is one of the first countries in the world, and the first in the Caribbean which will have an IMF-approved National Summary Data Page (NSDP).

A Business Observer report quoted the BOJ Governor: “This display of greater transparency and accountability, this structured effort, is itself of great interest to international rating agencies and others, and will contribute to better credit ratings for the country.”

The Jamaican stock market has been on a bull run since the start of the year, and the BPO sector is expanding rapidly.  Let us never forget those matriarchs and patriarchs who have set us on this dynamic trajectory, including such legends as Chris Blackwell, Hyacinth Chen, Glen Christian, Oliver Clarke, Karl Hendrickson, Audrey Hinchcliffe, Dennis Lalor, Lorna Myers, Peter McConnell, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, the late greats Carlton Alexander, Gladstone Chang, Joan Duncan, Maurice Facey, Rose Leon, Fred Kennedy, Paco Kennedy and Saleem Mahfood.  If we start calling the names of their younger family members and the new stars of enterprise, this column would run out of space. Suffice it to say that an energetic generation of entrepreneurs is making its mark.

Let us study these successful journeys to plan our own path to prosperity.  Stay tuned to business news and read those financial supplements carefully. The Jamaica Stock Exchange website has links to all the listed companies. Never has information been so accessible.  

Now that we are opening this new path of data-powered strategy and transparency, the risk of being damaged by corrupt practices has been minimized.  It is an excellent time to venture out, using your education and talents to create opportunities for yourself and others.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Income Tax Filing Deadline Extended

The following was shared with me by Allison Peart of Ernst & Young.

Tax Administration Jamaica wishes to advise that the deadline to file Final Income Tax Returns for year of assessment 2016 and Estimated Returns for year of assessment 2017 has been extended until Saturday March 25, 2017. Business Owners, Self-Employed persons, Partnerships, Companies and Employed Individuals with other sources of income or multiple employment,  will now have until then to file their returns before the interest and penalties are applied.

Taxpayers will be able to file on or before the extended deadline to avoid the $5,000 monthly penalty charged for late returns. With tax season drawing to a close persons are strongly advised to file and pay before the extended due date to avoid the expected higher than normal last minute rush.

Free tax support will be available at select Tax Offices this and every Saturday up until the end of April at the following locations:

  • Constant Spring
  • Montego Bay
  • Spanish Town
  • May Pen
  • Mandeville
  • Savanna-la-mar
  • St. Ann's Bay

 The Portmore Tax Office will continue its regular Saturday opening.

A schedule of these and all remaining Special Taxpayer Assistance Programme (STAP) sessions is available at  Here, TAJ representatives will assist persons with the preparation of their tax returns, to include providing guidance on completing the revised Income Tax forms.

Taxpayers who wish to make the most of the free service are being asked to take with them all business related documents, including their Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), bank statements, purchase invoices, receipts, sales records, utility bills, wage records and any other records that can be used to verify income and expenses.

For further information call the Tax Administration Customer Care Centre at 1-888-Tax-Help (1-888-829-4357) or visit the  



Leighton St. A. Beckles l Communications Officer
Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) l Communications Unit

Head Office l 4th Floor PCJ Building l 36 Trafalgar Road l Kingston 10
Landline: (876) 922-8750 l Mobile: (876) 838-3953 l Fax: (876) 754-9593


Customer Care Centre: 1-888-TAX-HELP (829-4357)

Website: l Twitter:@jamaicatax l

TAJ - Changing The Way We Do Business

Monday, March 6, 2017

The inclusive Chinese Cultural Association

CCA President
Nobel Laureate
Hon Prof Anthony Chen
Dr Kai Meng Lui
The Chinese Cultural Association (CCA), of which Jamaica’s Nobel Laureate Hon. Prof Anthony Chen is President, is open to all Jamaicans.  Our rainbow group gathers monthly to enjoy presentations organised by cultural director Dr Kai Meng Lui.  

These have included the fascinating accounts by Prof Chen on Climate Change, Dr Victor Chang of an anti-Chinese uprising in colonial Jamaica, Prof Mervyn Morris on his writings and experiences. 
A rapt audience

At a recent meeting Dr Liu gave us interesting facts on Chinese writing.  Those graceful strokes are filled with meaning!

Blessed support for my book 'Souldance' from
Most Rev Archbishop Emeritus Donald Reece 
You can understand how humbling it was therefore, to have been invited to give a lecture on my life experiences.  

As I prepared for it, I realised how blessed I had been in my parents, other family members, teachers, friends and mentors at every stage of my career.  The more successful we are, the more grateful we should be because that confidence, that courage are the result of the example and affirmation of our circle.  Their faith is that ‘wind beneath our wings’.  And so, the presentation was titled ‘On Their Shoulders’.  Thank you for such an honour, fellow CCA members.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Jamaica's beautiful mountains

Excerpt from Observer column published 27 Feb 2017

Monica Schroeter stands in
front of the wooden cottage
built by Irish Town workmen.
Associates of the Sisters of Mercy had our annual retreat at the Schroeter’s home in Irish Town.  They have renovated a lovely older house, and built a lovely wooden cottage.  As we admired the workmanship, Monica Schroeter explained that it was all done by residents of Irish Town.  A neighbourhood chef had prepared some of the best gungo pea soup we had ever had. People know a lot about Jamaica’s beaches, but with more promotion, they would fall equally in love with our mountains. 

How could I have forgotten to mention
Velia Espeut's amazing plantain porridge in my column!
It was fantastic!
We heard last week that the Hendricksons had bought the Bustamantes’ former home in Irish Town, Bellencita, and it brought back memories of visits with my husband’s parents who were close to the Bustamantes. I recall hearing that they had bought the peaceful homestead from the Kennedy family, of GraceKennedy fame. 

Classic Gungo Soup
As we drove past the Blue Mountain Inn, the ladies in our group harked back to romantic evenings by the river, the elegant cuisine and the old world atmosphere, hoping that it would be returned to its former splendor.
Environmentalist Eleanor Jones has a beautiful spot, Heritage Gardens at Cold Spring, located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, just below the Newcastle Jamaica Defence Force Training Camp. You have never seen more lush foliage, and they also offer accommodation in a quaint cottage.

The friends we have living in Irish Town and Newcastle agree that the roads can sometimes be terrible, but they wouldn’t change it for anywhere else.  Taking in the breathtaking views and enjoying the ultra-fresh air, we can understand why. 

Delicious Jamaica!

Excerpt from Observer column published 27 FEB 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Coconut Drops from Coconut Industry Board website
My sister and brother-in-law who visited recently told me they had to make a stop as they had booked some drops.  You would think they were stopping at a pharmacy, right?  Not at all – they had booked some coconut drops from the little shop at the Coconut Industry Board, because the day before when they checked, it was sold out.  That evening, they were triumphant with their stash of ‘drops’; those clusters of coconut covered with gingery sugar were sweet nostalgia.

St Thomas East Indians are amazing - photo from Pinterest
Then our neighbour brought goodies from St. Thomas: Young Sang’s Bakery duck bread, freshly picked mangoes and naseberries. My delighted sibling held each one as if they were sacraments. 
Sometimes it takes family from abroad to remind us of the amazing gifts of Jamaica.  At a shaded Fort Clarence picnic table, we enjoyed Hellshire fish and festival, and later they got their mandatory Devon House ice cream.  Blue Mountain coffee was a must with such Jamaican breakfast delights as run-down, ackee and saltfish, johnny-cakes, roast breadfruit. 

My sister related a ‘Chippies’ adventure in a West Indian store in Maryland.  She was in the line when she overheard a man mention her daughter’s favourite snack.  “Did you say Chippies?” she asked the man.  “Yes – see them over there in a box.  Take them now if you want them because the box soon empty!”  The price hurt, but she had to do good by her daughter – US$3 per little pack of Chippies banana chips!  So now we know why Chippies is so scarce in Jamaica, why friends tweet packs to tip us off when they get lucky at a gas station.  If Chippies ever lists on the stock market, we should get us some shares.

Mango trees are blossoming profusely and I hope someone will make a Chippies-like success out of them. Dried mango strips are popular in health food stores. Please my friends, if you have those heavily bearing trees, find ways of giving away the mangoes instead of leaving them to rot on the ground.  A box of mangoes left on a gate column with a ‘help yourself’ sign goes empty in no time.  I am still enjoying frozen mango juice in my smoothies from last year’s harvest.