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Sunday Brew – May 2, 2021


It was so sad to learn of the passing of former Cabinet minister, Member of Parliament, senator, diplomat, author, and firm Kingston College man, Anthony Johnson, last week.

It came at the height of his daughter’s efforts at fending off criticism of her seeming reluctance to tell the nation which parliamentarian threatened her in e-mails some years ago, as she claimed.

Tony Johnson was a top man, who served Jamaica, a nation that he loved, with absolute distinction. He was not in tip-top shape, healthwise, in recent years, and sadly had to be placed in a nursing home in his last days.

But he has a legacy that will long continue, if not at the national level, at least at KC where he was a legend, and was held in high esteem, just like his brother, Ivan “Wally” Johnson, the late principal.

When you look at Johnson’s impact, you would want to feel sympathy for his daughter, the senator and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, who told a recent sitting of the Senate of a move by a parliamentarian to threaten her and she had to tell the police about it. Now, in order for people to think that this is not just a move by Johnson Smith to deflect attention from the George Wright disaster, she must come forward and call the name of the individual whom she has fingered as threatening her.

I have a difficulty with people, in particular women, crying foul about things that happened to them years before. It’s just not right. Such matters ought to be dealt with pronto, thus avoiding any kind of stain later in life. It is a bit late in the day, but not too late for Kamina to speak up.

Why a millionaire refuses to invest in Jamaica

 

For many years I have been trying to get a friend of mine with unlimited financial assets to invest in Jamaica, with a particular focus on the eastern parishes of the island St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas.

He, of a European-American background, loves Jamaica endlessly and vacations here whenever time allows him, usually after he agrees on another elaborate business deal. But he will not budge when suggestions are made for him to get involved in the economy.

On one occasion I said to him, ‘Look, crime is everywhere and as a visitor to Jamaica and ultimate investor all you have to do is be cautious in what you do as you go about your business.’ His answer shocked the hell out of me: ‘It is not about crime in Jamaica. It is the uncertainty surrounding your currency, the Jamaica dollar.’

Wow!

He went on to say that it would be difficult to run a company in Jamaica when there are so many fluctuations in the value of the Jamaica dollar, mostly devaluation than revaluation, and based upon what he thought would work in Jamaica, he felt that it would not make sense to invest here.

Now, how many potential investors are there who think like that? The management of the Jamaica dollar against the US dollar has been appalling.

Last week the president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association Lynvale Hamilton, said on Radio Jamaica, that sales of used cars dipped by 60 per cent in the first quarter of this year, due to the shift in value of the Jamaica dollar. That’s only one of the countless issues that affect this country when the dollar devalues.

What’s noticeable is that there is none of the usual bragging by the minister of finance and the public service, who goes to town when there are ‘positives’ in the Jamaican economy. Had the dollar been revalued to, say, 130 to one, you would have seen Dr Nigel Clarke jump up in Parliament and boast about management of the economy. Now, not even a simple explanation is forthcoming. Why? Because the policymakers do not have a clue about financial management of the economy.

They will tell you that it is because of the downturn in tourism, in particular, that has caused the Jamaica dollar to reach the record disastrous level that it has plunged to, and that demand has outrun supply. But why has the US dollar remained firm in other territories that depend heavily on tourism for sustenance and survival? How come in The Bahamas, Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean states, and even Trinidad & Tobago, their currencies have not suffered the massive battering that the Jamaica dollar has had to endure?

People are suffering from the effects of the sliding Jamaica dollar. If you visit the supermarket this week with $10,000 and buy a certain number of products, a week later that same amount will give you far less of the same items that you go to buy.

What all of this tells me is that you don’t need a scholar to manage an economy. You need someone who is level-headed, understands how the underground economy and the formal economy work, and can appeal to those causing this rush on the US dollar in a time of this pandemic to back off, in pretty much the same way that Eddie Seaga did during the 1980s.

Is it far-fetched to revisit the prospect of fixing the value of the dollar, even if there is an eruption on the black market?

Well, listen out for it. You will hear that I don’t know a damn thing about the economy, so I should shut up. But that’s not going to work. Until it is clear that the policymakers know what they are doing, then the shouts must continue.

 

Lambert Brown has finally lost everything

(Lambert Brown)

Imagine hearing a Senator an appointed official who sits in Jamaica’s Parliament effectively inciting anarchy by suggesting that in matters in which the police failed to act in apprehending criminals, that the people should rise up and exact their own justice.

Lambert Brown has no right to a place in the Senate; or maybe he is still there for the deaf, as he speaks the loudest, or for those who believe in retro fashion, as he still wears suits that the Salvation Army would reject. He has lost his way.

Brown suggested on radio that if any female member of his family was raped, and the police were pussyfooting with the matter, he would take matters into his own hands and inject jungle justice into the process. Was that really coming from a legislator? And in a country where lawlessness prevails?

Now, why is this man still in the Senate? Here is what the president of the People’s National Party should do: He must summon Brown to his St Andrew offices, and in his own gentle style, ask him for his letter of resignation as a senator, to be dispatched to the president of the Senate. If Brown does not comply, Golding should then go public and tell us all that he has lost confidence in the trade unionist and he, therefore, does not speak for the PNP in the Senate.

‘Withdrawing’ the comments from the Senate, as Brown sought to do on Friday, is not enough. The damage has been done.

Any lawmaker who touts anarchy in a society that has its share of lawlessness already should be banished to the pit of shame and disgust.

 

Nowhere for George Wright to run, or hide

(George Wright)

It is a failing of Prime Minister Andrew Holness that he has not whispered into the left ear of on-leave-with-pay Member of Parliament George Wright, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is awaiting his letter of resignation.

This hypocrisy has continued for too long. People are watching and taking note.

Surely, what we are seeing now could not have continued under Jamaica’s real leaders of the past.

Michael Manley would have called him the same day and told him to make sure that his letter of resignation reaches the Speaker of the House of Representatives before he gets back into his car; Eddie Seaga would invite him to Jamaica House and say “Tell me something, what did you think you were doing? A want you resignation now”; while PJ Patterson would be a bit warmer, invite him to his house in Norbrook and say, “There is pen and paper in the living room, and you may want to telephone your wife while you are at it.” Even if there is a protestation with George saying, like a former minister told PJ when he was being shifted to another ministry against his will, that he has unfinished business, PJ would simply look over his spectacles and say, “George, we all have unfinished business.”

Even Hugh Shearer, in my estimation Jamaica’s most down-to-earth prime minister, would invite Wright to Rocky Point in Clarendon, order a steamed fish for him and in the middle of its consumption say, “Wrighty, boy, a so it go, you nuh, but you caa stay ina di House.”

The problem with Prime Minister Holness is that he quite often does not listen to the people of the land. It is they who put him where he is and it is they who can remove him faster than he can imagine. Being armed with 48 seats in a House of Representatives that accommodates 63 is no comfort zone. Real leaders must act, just like Michael Manley, Eddie Seaga, PJ Patterson and Hugh Shearer would.

So, Mr Wright has been wrongfully sent on two months’ vacation, with full benefits, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That’s what you call real poppy show, and it pains me to see how someone like Justice Minister Delroy Chuck and others are supporting the foolishness. There is yet no justice in this one. Wright must walk.

 

Farewell, Tony Johnson; speak up now, Kamina

(Anthony Johnson, Kamina Johnson Smith)

It was so sad to learn of the passing of former Cabinet minister, Member of Parliament, senator, diplomat, author, and firm Kingston College man, Anthony Johnson, last week.

It came at the height of his daughter’s efforts at fending off criticism of her seeming reluctance to tell the nation which parliamentarian threatened her in e-mails some years ago, as she claimed.

Tony Johnson was a top man, who served Jamaica, a nation that he loved, with absolute distinction. He was not in tip-top shape, healthwise, in recent years, and sadly had to be placed in a nursing home in his last days.

But he has a legacy that will long continue, if not at the national level, at least at KC where he was a legend, and was held in high esteem, just like his brother, Ivan “Wally” Johnson, the late principal.

When you look at Johnson’s impact, you would want to feel sympathy for his daughter, the senator and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, who told a recent sitting of the Senate of a move by a parliamentarian to threaten her and she had to tell the police about it. Now, in order for people to think that this is not just a move by Johnson Smith to deflect attention from the George Wright disaster, she must come forward and call the name of the individual whom she has fingered as threatening her.

I have a difficulty with people, in particular women, crying foul about things that happened to them years before. It’s just not right. Such matters ought to be dealt with pronto, thus avoiding any kind of stain later in life. It is a bit late in the day, but not too late for Kamina to speak up.

 

 



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