[OPINIONS]:::Watch That 'China Money'

No. 60 Monday, March 1, 2010
[POSTED BY::: Anthony 'Moco' Barrett] 
At a recent Canada-Jamaica Business Council Luncheon, Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett is quoted as saying, "The sale of Air Jamaica is not expected to leave existing gate­ways without service, as Caribbean Airlines will provide the necessary continuity." That's all well and good but like other pronouncements I am left to scratch my head but that's for another day.

   I thought lATA was the agency responsible for turning over funds similar to that of the TEF to all countries involved as points of origin and destination. It was therefore shocking to hear the Minister recently on the nightly news state that plans were in place to offset any possible losses to the TEF. Therefore, for clarity what I want the minister to tell the nation is, how.will the Air J sale affect inflows to the TEF?
   In my ignorance let me ask, given that televised utterance which implies that with the sale of Air J there will be an expected falloff in TEF inflows, what guarantees does the country have that the succeeding airline will adhered to the TEF agreement? Frankly I am confused, in my confusion I conjure up previous examples of visiting cruise liners refusing to pay to travel agents ergo lATA the US $2 per passenger which would be in adherence to the TEF policy. If my assumption is correct
that frightening visage should be uppermost in the minds of Ian Neita and those running the cash cow from Kingston. By the way, how much money has been borrowed from the TEF by other government agencies? How much money is currently in the TEF coffers? I ask these questions because something tells me there is a General Election in the air so I believe good money is going to be spent by the JLP to win.
   If Jamaica believes the government went overboard using state funds in the American/ over­seas citizenship snafu
which induced the recent 'buy elections' then they haven't seen anything yet. US $400M at Jamaica's current exchange rate is an astronomical amount of monies to be used calculatingly by the ruling JLP to contest a snap General Election in the near future.
   How much money in 'sweetheart deals' have been steered to private promoters and contractors who are known supporters of the JLP? Which businessmen are poised to benefit from the proposed boardwalk that will extend from the Old Hospital recreational park to downtown Montego Bay? In creating a public beach along with a glorified craft market at the said site, what will happen to Dump Up Beach and the areas which currently house the Harbour St and Old Fort Craft Markets? Who are the people wielding power and influence through backdoor deals here in Montego Bay? How have these people benefited? We need to know
   Secrecy offers convenient cover for wrongdoing. Standards of integrity require public officials to treat taxpayers' money with care. For far too long many of our politicians have been derelict by their failure to live up to those standards, they should shape up or step aside. Ethical standards should be a must in elective politics; in seeing what can mildly be described as blatant excesses by some of our local politicians whom we have elected, it is hard to imagine any of them taking the bold step of resigning from their lofty ministerial position when their questionable actions are exposed. One needs to read in detail the following article from www.earthtimes.org (New Zealand Cabinet Minister Resigns Over Credit Card Misuse) Wellington - New Zealand government minister Phil Heatley announced his resignation from the cabinet on Thursday after admitting claiming personal expenses on his ministerial credit card. Heatley, 42, who was minister of housing and fisheries in Prime Minister John Key's centre­right government, said he would remain in parliament as a National Party backbencher. Heatley said Tuesday that he had apologized to Key and repaid more than 1,200 New Zealand dollars (880 US dollars) after a newspaper reported that he had used his ministerial credit card for personal expenses. Don't we know of Ministers who have abused their Jamaican government issued credit cards when they go abroad? Whew, what a difference between Jamaica and New Zealand.
   Recently, the Contractor General Greg Christie proposed a new anti-corruption measure which this government should embrace whole­heartedly. This is a government which, when in opposition, castigated the previous PNP government for any and all semblances of impropriety. From all indications things have gotten so bad under the JLP's tenure the OCG has had enough, accordingly, he is quoted as saying the new anti-corruption measure; which is designed to combat what it views as a corruption-enabling facility which is currently enjoying the color of law; will significantly improve transparency in Government contracting by revealing the true identities of the owners of companies and other private business entities that are receiving Government of Jamaica contracts.
   The gist of the proposal reads as follow, Make mandatory, disclosure of particulars of owners of private entities desirous of bidding or tendering for Government contracts over $275,000 in value. According to the OCG, "By implementing this very important and ground­breaking anti-corruption measure, we will finally know the true identity of the persons, public officials, parliamentarians and politicians, and related parties, inclusive of their friends, relatives and associates, who have been receiving Government contracts". All Jamaicans should agree with the proposal, there needs to be a much clearer and defined set of ethical standards to keep our politicians, their families and their cronies in line, fearful of embarrassment and imprisonment, The politician should be a repository of our trust therefore neither he/she nor their cronies should use public office for personal gains but many have done just that.
   According to scuttlebutt gleaned from prominent JLP sources, a few of their fellow Laborites; elected and unelected are only bent on enriching themselves, they don't have the party's interest at heart because even if the JLP loses the next General Election they will be set for life financially. What a sad state in Busta party. Incidentally, I am looking forward to the OCG posting of the 333 page findings in the investigation of the airlift guarantee entered into between American Airlines, Jamaica Vacation and Jamaica Vacation's retention of the DunnCox law firm. Fire deh a musmus tail. Peace.

moco_barrett1 @ hotmail dot com

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