Thu | Sep 21, 2017

They eagerly await JLP's failure

Published:Sunday | March 27, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Dr Lloyd Cole points to a section of Jackson Bay on a map.

Political commentators have arrived at the early and correct conclusion than the present JLP administration will be judged more harshly than just about any other in the post-independence history of Jamaica.

The JLP's biggest problem is that it is not the PNP, where, up until February 25, second chances were always a given. One will also recall that during the PNP's run from 2011 to February 2016, all criticisms of the JLP administration of 2007 to 2011 were along the lines of 'disaster' and 'utter failure', while conveniently forgotten was near two per cent growth in 2011 and a fairly stable exchange rate.

Deliberately absent from the PNP's criticisms of the JLP administration of 2007 to 2011 is that little matter of a most harsh global recession which hit the JLP just as it took office. Because the PNP was so clinical in its bashing of the Golding administration (which someone like Bruce Bowen of Scotiabank praised), one almost expected then PM Portia Simpson Miller to blame the JLP for causing the global recession.

It may have been purely symbolic, but at the height of the global recession, then PM Bruce Golding took a 15 per cent pay cut and had his members of parliament agree to accept a 10 per cent cut in their monthly pay. The 'offer' was extended to the opposition members of the PNP. Good patriots that they were, they rejected it outright.

Bruce Golding has never been given kudos for that move. A look at Facebook daily will reveal PNP supporters salivating at the prospect of the JLP failing on all fronts even as those supporters claim self-praise as nationalists.

I find it more than odd that someone like Sandrea Falconer, a person I admire for her stint as a Portia loyalist and minister with responsibility for information 2011 to February 2016, has been posting on Facebook reminders that just about every aspect of the island's highway network was "done by the PNP" or "done in PNP time".

May I remind the former minister that the PNP faction that had been pushing for Portia to call the election in August 2016 had on its roster of items Portia as prime minister standing proud as the most recent leg of the North-South highway link was opened. That the PNP's miscalculation and shoddy campaign have brought about the JLP as government while the link is opened is certainly not the fault of the JLP.

I suppose that separation from power can result in one experiencing a long-drawn-out debilitating hangover.

 

STALLING ON CUBAN EMBARGO GOOD FOR JAMAICA

 

This country owes, at the very least, a debt of gratitude to medical doctor Lloyd Cole who conceptualised the building of a dry dock and allied facilities in 1990.

It is in the words 'allied facilities' that the notion of a logistics hub was created in the minds of our politicians. Prior to the PNP's win in 2011, Dr Cole was consulted by specific members of the PNP and their technocrats to the point of him being cosseted.

His very detailed ideas, which needed one of the biggest partnerships between the Government and private enterprise, was used by Anthony Hylton, later to be a most stunning failure as minister of industry, investment and commerce (MIIC).

During the run of the 2012-2016 PNP administration, talk of the build-out of a logistics hub in Jamaica, which included a proposed dry dock at Jackson Bay, was shrouded in secrecy and confusion.

Where Dr Cole had been the darling of the PNP politicians while the party was in Opposition, once it took power and he would attempt to share new information with MIIC and enquire about the general state of the hub, he hovered close to being made persona non grata.

To his credit, then Minister of Transport and Works Omar Davies was an individual willing to listen and exchange ideas and information.

At the top of the agenda of Dr Cole's vision of a new and prosperous Jamaica was a feasibility study regarding the dry dock. Although Cole is getting on in age, he is just as tenacious as ever. That tenacity led to the British Government, through the Commonwealth Secretariat, commissioning a study: Ship Repair in Jamaica, Charting a path to Success.

Items lifted from the study done by Mike Mundy Associates make for interesting reading, especially as the Cuban people become excited at the prospects of a huge wave of economic change in the near future.

"Throughout the preparation of the study, there has been strong recognition of the importance of capitalising on the current climate of opportunity that permeates both the public and private sectors with regard to establishing ship repair/dry docking services in Jamaica."

Bear in mind that the study was done in May 2015. It went on further to state, "The research and analysis confirm the time is ripe for this, and it is therefore hoped that this study will play its part in establishing such services PROMPTLY to the benefit of the sector and Jamaica as a whole."

In another section, it states, "Jamaica has in its workforce many of the skill sets required to establish Level 1 ship repair services in Jamaica, welding, metalwork skills, and so on. It also has the Caribbean Maritime Institute, a training institution that already runs courses that are complementary to the idea of establishing modern ship-repair services and has voiced its willingness to introduce other courses ... ."

You get the general idea.

 

WHEN CUBA ROARS, JAMAICA MAY WHIMPER

 

So much talk and fevered misinformation has been attached to the JLP's much-publicised no-tax proposal/political promise that one would believe it is the solution to all of Jamaica's problems.

Wipe the thought from your minds. Jamaica needs the urgent expansion of small and medium-size enterprises, along with a really huge game-changing project that will catapult the country towards developed status.

To do so, we need to increase the quality of the educational deliverables. We have already taken care of the quantity aspect of it. Cuba beats us in this regard on every front and we all know that when it comes to indiscipline, we are way out in front.

The region has four active ship-repair yards in Curacao, Mexico, Panama and the Bahamas. Jamaica is more centrally located than all of those countries.

One of the items in another section of the report presents its own dire warning if we care to read that into it. "It is the case that there is currently significant interest in establishing new high-volume repair capacity in the Caribbean region in addition to the Jamaica project."

It mentions two facilities, including a huge one in Trinidad. Then it states, "It is also reasonable to expect that Cuba will see the addition of new special used ship repair capacity over time. Lower labour cost and fewer regulations will increase the attractiveness of Cuban based repair facilities."

Jamaica needs the obstructionist policies of the Republican Congress to slow the freeing up of Cuba to international commerce. The report adds, "Overall, the trend towards steadily building volume operations emphasises that it is very important that Jamaica moves forward with its project at a pace so as to allow the new operation to be able to consolidate its position in the market without having to come from the position of being the last in line of a number of newcomers."

What more warning do we need? Dr Cole first floated his ideas in 1990 and every politician and person of note in Jamaica signed off on it and agreed that it was the way to go. Twenty-six years later we are still talking about it.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.