Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Digicel Must Keep Automatic Topup Bonuses

If your a grandchild or mingle regularly with the elderly you might be asked occasionally to put on credit, check balance and messages or other task that are unfamiliar with the  technology.

While clearing the messages from my grandmother's phone I came across one of the many service messages from Digicel, this one said on January 1 users would have to dial the *147# code to claim their monthly bonus for first time topups.

Like any other concerned customer I immediately went to twitter to verfiy the message with the service provider and give feedback.

Digicel decision would have been acceptable if the bonus was claimable throughout the month and not expire on the 7th of every month, meaning you'll only have a week to claim the usually automatic monthly bonus.

Decision Biases Senior Citizens 

I know for fact that many customers especially the senior citizens like my grandmother look forward to and depenend on that monthly $100 bonus to make their calls to friends and family.

This desicion to make the process manual will no doubt go unnoticed by the more technologically challenged senior citizens, the ones who will be most affected.With a manual process comes an entire demographic will be disenfranchised and its no fault of their own.

 It should be appreciated that many of these senior citizens are assisted with their top-ups and person doing the top-up may not be aware of the changes or forget.

If they do decide to keep the new policy, they should consider implementing reminders to claim the bonus every time their customers add credit to their phones.

I know we aren't entitled to these bonuses and benefits but policies are to treat customers equally and be transparent; thats  just good business sense.

Digicel has been a responsible corporate citizen and Jamaica benefits from its continued success as a business and their success depends mainly on customer satisfaction.

This decision will no doubt fail the customer satisfaction test.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Jamaican Liberal Whistler: Haiti Elections 2015: Political Intervention & Reg...

The Jamaican Liberal Whistler: Haiti Elections 2015: Political Intervention & Reg...: It is no secret that elections underway in Haiti have been filled with allegations and reports of wide spread corruption... What the US is doing, What CARICOM isn't doing but should be doing.. #Blog #Jamaica #Caribbean

Haiti Elections 2015: Political Intervention, CARICOM Deficiencies & Missing Aid

Map of Haiti/Haitian Flag
It is no secret that elections underway in Haiti have been filled with allegations and reports of wide spread fraud, intimidation, violence, external interference and general corruption; all are components of past and recent Haitian democratic processes.

But with the Nation still recovering from a devastating earthquake that only served to weaken its public institutions, the United States' State Department has taken guidance over the current presidential vote, with CARICOM merely an observer to the proceedings.
Democracy Protests

Even as the State Department overlooks the process there are further reports of misconduct among the political actors only adding to growing unease of the common Haitian and placing democracy further away from them.This has led to on/off clashes between democracy protesters and Haitian security forces before, during and after the voting in August and October. Voting continues in December with still occurring clashes daily.

Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten 
In his teleconferenced remarks on November 16th about the Haiti elections, Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten acknowledged "the disagreements" among the political players then stated "the good news is that the elections are taking place" and response to a question asked by the moderator Dr.Theramene(Haitian Americans for Progress) to elaborate on whether or not there is political interference by his government, Merten explained "We will work with whoever or whatever president comes out of this process." Even if 900,000 party monitors received credentials to vote at multiple voting centers.

Haiti Military Coup
His statement falls inline with the subvert quarters of US foreign policy which is protect their interest though by inducing "stability" - the key word - in simple terms, the works of democracy are shelved for a government, any government so that business as usual may carry on.

The flip side to that shortcut approach is that the peoples dissatisfaction and the governments spoon fed power often end up clashing and this creates instability leading to what we saw in Haiti before in the military coup..


The United States(US) is apart of a Core Group in Haiti and as stated by Merten, that includes Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, European Union and representatives of the OAS; the US has the major influence and is working accordingly.With the US committing $31 Million to support election activities its not too cynical to say they will expect value for their money.

Why CARICOM's Limited Role?

The group with least influence though and seemingly with the least interest in the Haiti's current critical democratic redevelopment is the 'regional' body: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean people, with little to no Caribbean media coverage of the current events.

Not to unfair to the regional body and its people, CARICOM past actions of support for Haiti count as admirable between the banning of illegitimate Latortue government, Aid, observer missions to recent support against Dominicans Republic's policy making Haitian descendants stateless.

Although most of the electoral observer missions were joint operations with the Organization of American States(OAS). CARICOM  has once again limited itself to spectator seat of a overheated election.

The Caribbean media on the other hand seem to have descended past the usual local market driven news content when it comes to Haiti with almost a complete black with most content coming from extra regional sources.I will not question the news editor choices but only urge newsroom rooms regional to encourage regional interest of some sort.

But Haiti has long been wrongly classified as the stepchild of the Caribbean and continues to be seen as economically 'dispensable' and a "burden"  to CARICOM. Although Haiti's relationship with the organisation has not been steady since its admission in 1999 there is no question in my mind that this is a critical juncture for Haitians in their redevelopment.

CARICOM needs t be ready to gain and have greater influence for the strengthening of a regional integration with shared values,similar economies, common culture and geopolitical interest the reasons deepen Haiti-CARICOM relations out weigh disadvantages.

CARICOM's ability to intervene as the regional overseer is hampered not only by financial andresources restraints but by its own unwillingness to create powers to intervene beyond strong worded statements and the cold shoulder:

Hon. Dr.Kenneth Anthony

Hon.Dr.Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia noted in a speech delivered in 2001: "The organization [CARCOM] is not fully seized of the significance of its involvement."   

This calls for reform and restructuring of the regional organization to better suite the current regional integration unions and political-economic area blocs that supports wider influence locally, regionally and internationally.

C.Grant states in his 2007 paper for "Intervention, Border and Maritime Issues in CARICOM" entitled "CARICOM:Non-Intervention & Intervention" that

While the current diplomatic modus operandi has served the Community reasonably well, there is the need for indicators for intervention to be developed and for a formal institutional mechanism to mediate political conflicts among stakeholders in the political process of the various Caribbean states to replace the reliance on ad hoc interventions such as those utilized in Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Humanitarian Fail: Where are the Missing Aid Funds ?

Haiti 2010 Earthquake Aftermath (NPR)

I end on an extremely sour humanitarian note that concerns Haiti's aid pledge; Its reported that of 15 000 homes promised to be built only 900 have been delivered, US $7.6 billion has been disbursed and little to show for it, lack of accountability leading to corruption surrounding aid, relief and rebuilding expenditure means the many of those suffering from the 2010 quake are still in tents, on the streets, children not attending school, living conditions and hygiene at inhumane levels.

By all means Haiti is still in the midst of a Earthquake and its allies lead by the US and CARICOM are not back to pre-2010 misconceptions, mistreatment and disregard of Haiti-Pearl of the Caribbean and the free Haitian people.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

#AllLivesMatter from Paris to Raqqa

Firstly, any acts of violence perpetrated against any person or a people should be offensive to our humanity and the impact not to be diminished. 

We must condemn these horrendous attacks done in the name of religion and stand resolute with our French counterparts especially the youth.

In showing your support you might be one of the millions of people across the world showing solidarity with the people of Paris, after the recent terrorist attacks by using the French flag photo
filter on your social media accounts. The level of social awareness at an all time because of social media and it connectivity that reaches beyond boundaries and borders, allowing us to react, empathize and sympathize simultaneously as events occur in different parts of the world.

With many of us choosing western mainstream media outlets that are often for domestic markets like CNN – we end up not receiving the deeper coverage of stories that accompanies internationally focused media. This is inadequate for the formulation of balanced views and interpretation of world issues, it therefore leads me to submit that the current show of solidarity and outcry has been woefully disproportionate to the impact of terrorism and the so called ‘war on terrorism’ when comparing west and east.

Why I chose a Syrian Flag Filter?

Although the Refugee crisis gains considerable coverage, it still is being referred to as a “migrant crisis” – with the highlights being Europe’s response not the basis of the crisis that has led over 9 Million Syrians to leave their homes from the start of civil war in 2011.If you get pass the surface of mainstream reporting, there are facts and data that gives insight into the true devastation of terrorism and the war against it. 
The Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), in its Global Terrorism Index 2015 states that, “terrorism remained highly concentrated in just five countries, with Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria accounting for 78% of terror-related deaths in 2014.” 

The town of Raqqa in Syria is the stronghold of Islamic State and has been completely destroyed by the ongoing civil war, IS and bombings by the US, Russia, France and other allied forces. Hospitals and schools are nonexistent at this point.

While the reasons for the filter is to make us feel better about our own inaction or inability to change the world but let’s not put a western cap on our solidarity. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Constitutional Reform: A Must Before 2030

Truth: The failure of our political leaders to notice the decay of our democracy was no mere oversight; rather it was an omission of a selfish nature that comes with the territory of the Jamaican political leadership that puts self before constituents and nation

The idea that the system is for the powerful few and not the majority has sent the constitutional reform discussion into the void of ‘soft issues’ or ‘that cyaa eat’ grey area of the Jamaican consciousness.

The Internal power struggles of the past couple of weeks in the two major political parties cannot and should not be passed along as simple politicking, especially after an unfortunate fiery climax in MP.Raymond Pryce’s North-East St Elizabeth constituency.

Peoples National Party
Another unpleasant example included Dr Bloomfield losing his candidate selection race then being reinstated after a strong showing on an internal poll, the Peoples National Party’s General Secretary tried to explain that party delegates did understand the party constitution and its regulations – that the candidate selection was an “indicative” ballot due the constituency being “provisional”. The action of the party would have offended any laypersons grasp of democracy.

It must be seen for what it is; a complete disregard for democratic principles, corrupt processes and glaring mistrust in our political system and institutions.

Renewed Effort

With the shady inner workings of the political parties on full display and in the light, there must be tripled effort to improve our governance structure through constitutional reform.

The recent calls by private sector has only reinforced the need for the parliament of Jamaica both the governing administration and the opposition to embrace and concentrate on constitutional reform.  The modernization of Jamaica’s democratic principles and processes has not kept abreast with the rest of the developing world or those nations we aspire to be by 2030.

As the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement states that signed parties must “reaffirm and recommit to the principles of social dialogue and partnership, specifically to further the process of deepening democracy and participatory decision-making.”

As citizens, private sector, civil society, church and other internal forces, must bring pressure on all individual candidates for elected office and their affiliated political organization to commit to the execution of constitutional reform before 2030. 

It is ultimately the hands of parliament that must be moved to set controls upon themselves and repower the majority.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Press Fails to Demystify Economic Issues

With the issues of Jamaica's economy and fiscal management - or lack of - dependent on your political view, reaching a new level of discourse as the political factions and schools of economics whip out technical jargon and flash their superior number crunching abilities concerning all things budget, debt, revenue, exchange rate, GDP(gross domestic product), capital market, multinationals and overall policy. There is a forgotten majority that continues to  be removed from the discussion either from ignorance or apathy in a process that doesn't appreciate their layman opinions.

With an election imminent there is renewed energy and competition in the politics as parties and candidates try to one-up the other on economic issues that remain high on the Jamaican agenda, many not 'qualified' to lead the conversation but while in campaign mode they won't necessarily stick to facts further misleading those removed from the discourse. 

And to straighten out the facts and give solid opinions we turn to the academics and practitioners who are given open mics in the press and mainstream news media. But too often the facts are numbers, that become complicated calculations, that get tossed around loosely as simple mathematics in nation that is trying to curb a cultural 'hard hardheadedness' to math. The academic circle also sees its fair share of politics as different schools of economic thought collide for supremacy and personalities aim top their counterparts.

Who is actually aiming to demystify the issues?

Connect The Dollars

For the layperson, the economy is what he or she experiences including (un)employment, income, food prices, gas prices, utility bills, mortgage/rent  and all the other direct factors that will affect a person's quality of life. 

With politicians too busy trying to tilt the situation either way and the academics unable to convey simpler messages. We are then expecting our middle men in public discourse - the free press- that connects us the citizenry to the issues and vice versa to breakdown the arguments, facts and implications and deliver a material that allows everyone who wants to understand to connect the dollars back to their own lives and pockets.

If the news outlets and talk shows continue to regurgitate the discussions being had at the highest levels of leadership in the same language and understanding, a large percentage of Jamaicans will never become interested or if they are interested will never comprehend the true dollars and sense of the economy.

We don't just need a new politics but a new voter who understands the issues or a voter who craves understanding as to make the best decision at the ballots.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dead Democracy: From The Ballot to The Streets

"A stable democracy" is often how those in leadership positions describe the current health of our politics and democracy, with no major shock waves in our system of governance over the last 3 decades since the ideological rift that formed during the years of Micheal Manley's lean towards democratic socialism clashing with Seaga's capitalist sentiments that received further push from outside forces. After this period, the word ideology became invalid and political activist reduced to squabble between grassroots supporters defending their respective parties, as the economy sank - the tight fiscal space narrowed our vision with only the  IMF and other global creditors in our sight.

As a millennial belonging to the 90's and having experience the birth and and super expansion of the Information age, there has been no substantial period for Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as to compare governance records against the People's National Party's tenure. Hence the search for comparisons in this modern age would lead us youth, regionally and internationally to get an understanding of the level of governance that we should be expecting and encouraging through our public participation.

With the current situation in mind, I would like to suggest to will thinking Jamaicans that as for our democracy our vitals are flat lining  and for all intensive purposes we are a dead democracy.Lifeless from the ceremonial zombie-like walk to the ballots to fulfill our 'rights' to the bustling streets filled not with voices of protesters with a cause but with hustlers just trying to make a living without such concern for the process that controls how taxes are spent or the minimum your to be paid for a days work.

The Ballot 

We have been dead at the ballot boxes from the time our political parities decided to encourage 'area leader' mentality  that saw the creation of garrisons and safe seats that are manned by the die-hearts who swear upon their ancestors grave their bloods are either green or orange not red like our national heroes, 2 are accredited founder of these political parties. Even after the creation of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) and Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) to ensure free and fare elections in all constituencies, the sanctity of votes are still being corrupted with the buying and selling of votes.

For those not considered die-hearts of any kind, they often make voting into a symbolic gesture to our ancestors who fought for suffrage, with little thought given to issues, because elections in Jamaica are about party and personalities not issues. Plaster a face on a sign with a slogan and you have yourself a campaign, although you may speak on topics - who is really listening? Not the die-hearts they are only concerned about their party winning, half the independent voters are tuned out until election day and the other half is the minority who decided to vote on issues but their numbers wont affect the outcome much - then there are those who don't not to vote because of apathy.

I can only compare our 5 year general election cycle to life support and with sprinklings of local government elections in between as minor brain activity. In the 2007, we showed a miraculous  sign of recovery that had a generous turnout including the youth that drastically dwindled in 2009 when Holness in tried to tap into the youth-phoria after Golding's quick departure under circumstances that left a immeasurable trust deficit.

We have lost the essence of being a voting and being voters.

The Street

The current Simpson-Miller led administration has demonstrated that we have slipped into collective coma as we shun our civil duty to keep our government accountable and transparent. There has been no end to the controversies  and contradictions that only inspired limited outcry hence got limited results from the Azan affair, NHT saga, Riverton fire mess and the Ms Haughton's unpunished nepotism. But the administration biggest mockery of our Westminster system was allowing a Cabinet Minister to pursue business with entities that cabinet itself decided not to do business with.

Yet, we 'articulate minority' have not found these blunders, so offensive to our sense of judgement that we would alight the streets with our concerns, discontent and disapproval. Are the silent streets a picture of deeper fear? A fear of being relinquished to doldrums of social mobility, where those without the proper surname, professions and nod of approval are placed for speaking out of turn prevented from moving upward - the creation of a classicist society.


This perception also consumes our universities and especially civil society groupings, many see these groups as only caring for those who pay their dues or make considerable donations. This idea that civil society, is only for the sophisticated  upper echelons of Jamaican society who can speaking the queens english when making representation is troublesome in a context such as Jamaica - where those who are most oppress belong to a lower socio-economic standing with perfect patios and sub standard english and education.

These issues reinforce in the minds of poor Jamaicans  that the system is too complicated for them to speak beyond localized matters such as bad roads and lack of water, they dare not venture into governance and constitutional reform out of ignorance - this vacuum leaves them powerless thus they place their entire trust in the political leadership to govern themselves and set their own standards.

The masses are out their waiting to galvanize around a single source of either strength, sacrifice or shock whether they know it or not. Who will inject the well needed adrenaline to get our civil blood pumping again?

Our Time: Calling for a Referendum and the Jamaican Democracy

It was not long ago that the Scottish independence referendum  was in the spotlight earlier this year with the populace deciding to stay with the United Kingdom, and we as Jamaicans asked ourselves, 'why not us?'

we witnessed the Irish allowing same-sex marriage through a referendum that surprised many who were accustomed to the conservative nature of the predominately catholic nation, again Jamaicans found reason to call for a referendum on the buggery law as the issue took center stage. 

Then we recently observed the Greek people refusing austerity, in a momentous referendum that may have lasting repercussions for the world economy, specifically the European Union and Euro-zone economic bloc with many other euro-zone members nations contemplating their future in the union with Britain and Spain planning in the near future to bring the "yes or no" question to their respected electorate in referendums. 

There has been a increase in calls for a grand referendum that will bring questions to the people that the 63 in parliament do not dare decide for 2.8 million people; issues of concerning culture in the buggery law, concerning the economy in whether or not we bare the chain of austerity, even democracy in becoming a republic and many other issues.

But this Jamaican grand referendum has been denied by most of our elitist including politicians on a most disturbing basis beyond the tribal nature of our politics but rather they go farther to insult the intelligence of the populace; indicating that the people are not 'smart' enough to make such important decision independently and would just be a mere political exercise.  

There is no willingness to defend our 'ordinary Jamaicans' against this line of reasoning, nothing from civil society groups, hence our political leaders will never be committed to a referendum and general constitutional reform because they believe the Jamaican people are not smart enough to understand. 

Certainly the education of the electorate on critical matters cannot be left up to the whim of politicians, therefore we need coordinated effort in public/private spaces to elevate the standard of what it means to be a voter or potential voter, leading to better public participation and overall better governance. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

"irrelevant relics" Abound: Mirror, Mirror... Mr. Davies

As one of the most popular fairy tales gave us a most interesting question that I insist on utilizing with a tweak Mr Editor as to add a bit of lightness

As the fairy tale goes, a evil queen had a magical mirror that she enchanted to ensure that she was the most beautiful in all the land, to activate the this mirror's power she every so chanted "mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all" and the mirror would reply. Allow me to introduce a Jamaican patios rendition of the chant, it goes: 

"Mirrow, Mirrow inna di pauliment, hoo yuh tink is the most irrelevant relic haf dem all" and the mirror replies, "any numbah can play sah", the mirror would have a hard time pinpointing any single member of this current parliament, with many of them constantly proving their irrelevance by presiding over mismanaged assets, projects and practically destroying lives, like many of the FINSAC survivors can relate.

In all seriousness, the insult that Minister Omar Davies decided to hurl was nothing short of a general perception that many - if not all - Jamaicans of the aging parliament - including Gordon House itself.

These “relics” have long been in cruise mode, having reached their professional limits with all the assurance of being reelected being granted by the curry goat and beer supporters, why expect should we believe that they have more to offer?

Stronger Youth Influence

we continue to discuss whether or not elected representation should be limited on amount of terms that can be served, we must also seek to reach out to the youth leaders within our communities and encourage to be apart of the process, if not a party candidate , a independent or third party candidate.

We the youth must avail ourselves to the opportunities that lie within the political and governance process, it may be tainted making unsavory as a area of interest for most young people. Its disappointing that the youth arms from both side continue display nothing but there willingness to apart of the problem and not the solution.

We independent youths, especially those with political aspirations should stop seeking validity from political parties, be them young professionals or old guard but rather create our own importance by representing the voices of the youth in such away that the powers that be will take note of our influence.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Support for Public Sector Shutdown

The People's National Party(PNP) government and its economic oversight reps of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) have made it quite clear that they are passing on the hand dealt to them by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the public sector workers who largely constitute the Jamaican middle-class in form of a 5% wage offer. Although, in the weeks immediately following the 5% disclosure the administration was insisting that it was just a starting offer and that negotiations would bear good fruits.

People's National Party
It would not be long after that the government, now under more pressure by the defiant unions and workers began to colour its own workers as inconsiderate; saying that they were selfishly ignoring the administration's tight fiscal space as dictated by the IMF and that there defiance could possibly derail the economic reform programme - although the public workers had agreed to wage freeze for 6 years despite increase in cost of living to give the government sufficient time and maneuverability to stimulate growth.

Let Actions Speak

It  was encouraging to see the leader of the Jamaica Teachers Association motivating his charges to email Public Service Minister, Horace Dalley, sending him countdown reminders for the government to respond to the teacher's offer, even drawing irritated response from the minister. Hopefully union leaders and other activist will see the value in utilizing new media and social network to not just mobilize the troops but engage the wider Jamaican populace in their cause especially to build awareness and gain support.

As the weeks pass; the public sector workers and their families are anxious for deal of mutual interest to reached - the unions have threatened inevitable industrial actions with only their sense of duty to nation sustaining them. But we challenge the unions, workers and Jamaicans not to be caught in individual battles that only serve a single interest, its time we awaken to possibilities of sustained change that only arise from us presenting a united front in the face of our new reality.

Public Sector Shutdown 
Public Sector shutdown and walkouts aren't unheard of and here in Jamaica it follows the traditions of the early union movements that led up to our independence; such an action will have large support and could be a catalyst for the type of awakening that will get turn our general apathy into ACTION!.

Don't Downplay, Encourage and Participate

It is a reoccurring theme among Jamaicans to downplay the cause, advocacy and motives of those among us with the intention of disrupting the status quot. 

It indicates a level of fear that has been driven into the people through a political culture of "don" and "area leader", but also the injustice brought about by the cronyism that amass power for the selected few and the only way to make some head way is by supporting them or "dawg nyam yuh suppah". Many are quick to place political labels hence making it easier for them to dismiss and avoid participation.

We must decide to reject the "we can't do anything" and "is dem run things" mentality that has kept governance from truly progressing. Realizing that we have the power and should be constitutionally be given more power to hold those in elected and other public offices accountable.

Despite this, we must seek to encourage, motivate and participate in the activities be them discussion or civil actions that will create CHANGE, so that everybody has a chance for reach strive for the top.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Jamaica's International Image: Reaping What We Have Shown

President Obama didn't hide his 'evolution' on Same-sex marriage, and during his visit to Jamaica President Obama was not bashful about his administration and nation's fundamental views on Human Rights that are ensured in their constitution since the USA's conception, in fact during his presentation he made the effort to point out a LGBT/Women Rights activist and endorsed her efforts to advance these rights for the communities she represents. 

It would be foolish to assume that the bilateral Obama-Simpson-Miller discussion at Jamaica House excluded Human Rights - specifically Jamaica's LGBT community, therefore it is was foreseeable that any group/person was prepared to say "told you so", if the United States decided to initiate serious diplomatic discourse on the issue, as we see now with the special envoys.

Any attempt to lead the impressionable population – those on the middle ground not convince either way – down the path of believing that nothing is wrong with how human rights is talked about and dealt with currently in Jamaica is dangerous. We can't continue rejecting the outside criticism of our internal affairs if we proclaim to be a western democracy, we must introspect or decide to isolate and block out the noise of the international community that we are apart.

Reaping What We Shown

Jamaica in the eyes of the international community has many things to be praised and rebuked for including our culture, music, athletics, economy management and homophobia - It was not too long ago the TIME magazine labeled us the most homophobic place on earth, so many other headlines have came before and still continue to be seen even as we improve.

The international community is still concerned about our how our laws and culture continue to affect the treatment of some vulnerable groups and minorities as reported by the Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding in debrief of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review; including women, disabled and lgbt.

We are surely reaping what we have sown, its equated to our economic mismanage-rs label that has brought us to our knees before the IMF,as the world watches closely to see if we stay the austerity course towards being fiscally prudent, before they decide to seriously invest in Jamaica. 

Jamaica will continue to receive human rights nudges  from our developed international partners - It is important we reject any attempts to 'meddle' or 'strong arm' our sovereignty into submitting before our native culture and society advances either naturally or local disturbances in form of activism.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

TPPandTheCaribbean: Trans-Pacific Partnership Facts and How the Caribbean will be affected

Mainstream Messed Up

Before I do delve into 'the need to knows', I must call out any mainstream media that either under-reported this issue or ignored it, but I am especially disappointing in the Jamaican mainstream media as they have left the Jamaican masses especially the disfranchised  members of the society who have no other resources other than the mainstream media be it print or electronic to enlighten them about local and global affairs.

There is no for the media not follow and report on such a established topics such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the other less popular United States(US)-EU(European Union) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP). Even as Pres. Obama maneuvers his Trade Bill  through the US House of Representative and Senate that would see the implementation of the TPP in the US within a period of 6 years, along with other negotiation nations from the Americas include: Mexico, Canada, Peru and Chile. 

TPP Members 

TPP Facts

What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership 

The TPP or TPP12 is an a game changing  Free Trade Agreement that was originally signed by Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore under its former name "Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership" and came into effect in 2006 with a vision of comprehensive trade liberalization being implemented by 2015, but between 2010-2013 the other 8 nations( including Japan, Australia, Malaysia,Vietnam) had joined led by the USA, of course making it 12 nations in total. 

TPP Objectives

The TPP stated objective is  to achieve extensive liberalization of both goods and services, and entails comprehensive coverage of trade in services, investment, government procurement, non-tariff measures, and many other regulatory areas 
including Intellectual Property.

Size and Power  

This Partnership is looked upon as another geopolitical power struggle between the US and China's emerging influence in the Americas and Asia-Pacific hence we must asses its economic size and power to really gain an appreciation of its impact on global trade, but also consider the possibilities of more Asian-Pacific nations joining the TPP.

Although the United State is almost twice the size in population and economy of the other members: Trade among TPP partners amounted to more than $2 trillion in 2012, which can be compared to World Trade Organization (WTO) global trade valued $18.3trillion for that period, TPP trading would equal 11% of all trade.

TPP nations are a 40% share of all United States world trade with the North American Free Trade(Canada,Mexico,USA) and Japan the majority of that trade.

In terms of populations according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 2014 World Population Data Sheet, .the total American TPP members which stands at 555 million, more than half the total population of the Americas (971 million), is significantly larger than the Asian population figures which amount to no more than 256.6 million (285 if you add Australia and New Zealand), compared to Asia’s total population of 4.3 billion: almost half of the Asian contingent is accounted for by one member, Japan: Converted to percentage of worlds population would be 12%.

Criticism and Concerns 

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership says its a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. 

The fear the deal may extend the scope of patents in sectors such a medicine and prevent the distribution of generic drugs.

With the certain deregulation of the Private Sector seen also as negative by pro consumer advocated; there will easier flow of companies and their revenue, leading to possible loss of  employment and outsourcing of local jobs.

Continued currency manipulation by some members;currency manipulation is characterized by persistent current account surpluses, and accumulation of massive quantities of foreign currency reserves.

And with the rigidity of trade and harmonization regulation to ensure equality being proposed, opponents say that smaller economies will have less room to grow and develop.

How TPP will Affect The Caribbean

The  magnitude of the affect that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is still hard to predict as nations still negotiate and hence we await the final agreement, if they are successful in reaching there:
The European Center for International Political Economy(ECIPE) report: "Mega-Regional Trade Agreements: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN, AND PACIFIC COUNTRIES" has provided some insight into how these two Free Trade Agreements would affect the African, Caribbean and Pacific(ACP) countries and provided some recommendations going forward:
For the Caribbean specifically, ECIPE said that the TPP may have a significant impact on trade, with the USA accounting for close to 35% of the Caribbean’s exports while the EU and the rest of the TPP account for 11% and 8% respectively. 

Also that there are a number channels through which mega-regional agreements such as the TPP can impact on ACP countries. The first is the direct effect that mega-regional agreements can have on existing ACP access to EU and USA markets on preferential terms not available to middle and high-income countries. The second channel is the impact that the reduction of non-tariff measures and the harmonization of standards within the TPP can have on either raising or reducing export costs for ACP countries. 

What Must We Do

Some ECIPE recommendations for ACP countries include:

ACP countries continuing to push for increased and more targeted aid for trade, development and should also bolster their domestic systems for receiving and utilizing this assistance these tools should be used to cater for the country’s domestic institutional, political economy, and governance constraints.

Conducting national assessments of how we are positioned in the mega regionals “game”- domestic reform imperatives could best be pursued so that the country is not left too far behind.

Strengthening and widening regional economic integration:  enlarging the regional economic space will provide some attraction to outside investors, particularly if the transactions costs of accessing regional markets can be made less burdensome or, even better, attractive.

Without "high-level" government and policy intervention Caricom and its Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be on the receiving end of whatever trade deals, regulatory  changes, environmental and intellectual property rights agreements result from this new arrangement with no way out. 

Next Time we analyze the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP).

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Two-Tier Local Governance for Jamaica

It was interesting to hear Opposition leader Andrew Holness ratify the position of his party local governance when he said to MP Warmington[opposition whip]: 

“Wehave to support the bill. We can't look like we not supporting localgovernment." Jamaica Gleaner 13/5/2015

It was almost amusing in that instance to see the opposition fumble and tumble in the House of Representatives during the vote on the amendment to theLocal Government Act{link to Bill} being proposed by the government, prior they stood united and defiant against the CCJ bills that had eventually passed with only government MPs support.

Entrenchment is not enough

It must now become the priority of the government not settle with the entrenchment of the current system, that sees rampant nepotism, corruption, lack of trust, little participation of citizens and community groups, with the current system of local government in the past
Constitution of Jamaica 1962
being disbanded on the grounds of corruption and ineffectiveness, it is understandably that we should be hesitant of protecting a unsatisfactory institution.

The move towards reform are derived from reports recommendations on constitutional reform in 90's and over 20 years later have seen the best and worst of our style of Westminster politics hence any recommendations then must be viewed in the context of nation that has a trust deficit between citizen and government that only be described as unfavorable for development and growth.

County Councils and Parish Administrators

A county council is the elected administrative body governing for an county that often are responsible and are compliment by smaller public bodies including city, districts, parishes, etc. The political system we mirrored belonging to the United Kingdom had county councils from 1889, and reformed in 1974 to one-tier-unitary authorities in most areas of the UK, others nations with County councils include: Sweden, Taiwan, Norway and USA [10 states].

3 Counties/14 Parishes of Jamaica
With County Councils established in Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey [with exception of the Portmore Municipality] - as an elected assembly - the parish/district administrators would be either be elected or appointed on the advise of Justices of the Peace/Magistrates/Community workers.

Constitutionally, the county councils would exercise a degree of municipal self-government provided by the Constitution
Within the boundaries of the county the smaller Parish administration would exercise local self-government independent of the county councils. Each parish in the county could contribute a number of Council members dependent on size and population leading to lesser number of elected at the local levels.
Constitutional reform is matter of when, not if for a young democracy and it must be repeated that the constitution is not a stagnant document but a living scripture that changes constantly and must be continuously updated and reviewed.

Young democracies such as Jamaica have the advantage of learning from the mature democracies that have evolved through trials and errors.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Write-In Candidates for Jamaica

A write-in candidate is one in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person's name on election day.

Some US States allow voters to paste a sticker with the name of a candidate they perceived should have been given the opportunity to contest the election. Write-in candidates rarely win, and votes are often cast for ineligible people or even fictional characters. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy are counted among those who have won by write-in votes.

Write-in candidates have also been elected in Sweden, Brazil and Ecuador among other countries.

In recent times, we have seen ‘in-fighting’ within Jamaican political parties as incumbents feel threaten by a challenge, especially if the incumbent was thrown into the constituency for the sake of winning a seat and/ fails to perform. We have seen the preference of the Jamaican people to be represented by ‘one of their own’, someone they trust and have a rapport with either through family and committed community advocate and leadership. The main political has largely ignored the plight of the people, and instead stimulate loyalist thinking – one size, fit all.

The People's Representative

Currently the political scuffle within the JLP between MP Gregory Mair and Sharon-Hay Webster, which sees establishment seat filler against constituency native and people’s likely preference. The initial statements suggest the fear of Mair ‘losing power’ – such thinking continues to hamper our governance and democratic development as the ability to perform and represent is linked with being “in power” which is also a constitution reform issue that should give greater role and muscle to government opposition and the people.

The Jamaican electoral system should consider if not actual law, but absorb the spirit of write-in and encourage independent candidates. As I believe that political representatives put forward as the people's representative of whichever political party should have years of hard work on the ground, should be familiar with the development plans and can understand the needs of the constituency better than any new-comer politician.

This could stir more participation within the democratic process – allowing people to suggest a preferred choice creates some level of trust and satisfaction.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Anti-Terrorism Gone Astray: Secret Resolution, Commitment, Denial and Proof(Maybe)

Secret Resolution (Sept. 24, 2014)

Almost three weeks had passed last year after the Jamaica had co-sponsored a United Nations resolution at the 69th session at the assembly in September to condemn the Islamic State(IS) militants and lead to the blocking of IS recruits from travelling to the battlefields and returning home to radicalize others. 
The Resolution 
was approved September 24, disclosure by Government October 10, 2014 - 12 days..
"So, why not at least a brief information-oriented statement for the benefit of the Jamaican people and their Caricom cousins as well?" (Jamaica Observer 05/10/14)

Was the question posed by bajan Rickey Singh in his analysis of the Jamaicans government's "public silence" on the resolution.

The Jamaica Observer article on 09/10/14 headline read: 

Jamaica co-sponsors ISIS resolution

Opposition blasts Government on non-disclosure of UN participation

In the article the opposition Jamaica Labour Party is quoted saying

"the Government must recognize that the nation’s foreign relations  is a public matter which must, at all times, reflect the views, hopes and aspirations of its people, and the decisions taken on behalf of the people must always be fully transparent."

Commitment (October, 10 2015)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sen.AJ Nicholson
The Government via foreign affairs Minister Senator AJ Nicholson made the claim in the Senate after some probing by the opposition that

 Jamaica supports efforts to continue to give priority attention to combating the spread of terrorism, including focusing on finding a multidimensional and comprehensive approach to the problem.  (Jamaica Gleaner 10/10/14)

and also 
 considering its position, Jamaica had to take into account the geopolitical context in which the resolution was being tabled. The minister said terrorism in all forms constitutes a grave threat to international peace and security.(Jamaica Gleaner 13/10/14)
During that same Senate sitting the minister was asked by Opposition Senator Robert Montague on what would be done if Jamaican was taken hostage by terrorist - the Minister replied "What you want us to do, send the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force)?"

Denial(March 15, 2014)

Min. National Security MP Peter Bunting
Thus far this year that support seems to be dodgy at the least, taking into consideration the posture of the administration after reports surfaced from US Military intelligence that Jamaicans maybe apart of IS recruits from the region -  the National Security Ministry was quick to dismiss and chastised the Commander of the US Southern Command General John Kelly for not following his script; 

National Security Minister Peter Bunting said the prepared text of the speech delivered by General Kelly did not name Jamaica and, as a result, the reported comment may be the result of a misunderstanding. (Jamaica Gleaner 15/04/15)

the US has however said no mistake was made  and  double downed on the statements  made by General Kelly

a spokesman for the US Southern Command in Florida, Jose Ruiz, tells Nationwide News that General Kelly did not make a mistake. (Nationwide News 17/04/15)

Proof(Maybe) (April 6,2015) - (April 12,2015)

It will be interesting to see how the Jamaican authorities treat this incident but also if this indeed a case of terrorist recruitment: how did this young man slipped through the mechanism that are/supposed to be in place according to resolution that

also urged members to intensify and accelerate the exchange of operational information regarding actions or movements of terrorists or terrorist networks through bilateral or multilateral mechanism

  • Wasn't the same "Intelligence Agency" garnered by Suriname available to Jamaica?
  • What does Jamaica have in place get, utilize and share the intelligence?
  • Why isn't there a single database of a "no fly" designation by the region?

and many other questions must be answered... as another Jamaicans ISIS was made some days  before 

  In any case we've seen the failure/weaknesses of nations in the Caribbean region to fully cooperate and integrate sharing of intelligence that is crucial in stopping terrorism and transnational crime.