Articles

December, 2011

Electricity consumption is strongly correlated to GDP, making it the single best physical indicator of overall economic activity in a country; in genera, productivity growth is greater the lower the real price of electricity. While the debate rages about long-term alternative fuel source to expensive imported oil - LNG and coal are most often on the agenda- it is important that stakeholders, including the electricity operator, the regulator, the policymakers and consumers (business and residential) implement doable short-term measures like more rigorous regulation, cost efficiencies and conservation.

December, 2011

In any gathering, the vivacious soulful Kay Osborne is difficult to  ignore. An articulate, intelligent woman with strong convictions she is both aristocratic and “rootsy.”

March, 2011

In an increasingly competitive economic environment, firms have to devise and implement strategies to attract, compensate and retain talent in order to achieve business objectives. The challenge is particularly acute in the context of the current recession which puts companies under additional pressure to manage costs, including compensation. How are Jamaican firms, unions and workers responding to this challenge?

 

March, 2011

 The Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange was envisioned as a tool to allow businesses with a capital base of between $50 million to $500 million to access low cost capital by selling no less than 20% of the business to the public, comprised of at least 25 shareholders. Launched in 2008, the Junior Market has allowed several companies to raise nearly J$1 billion in less than 18 months and created a resurgence in Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

March, 2011

 In today’s challenging global environment, fuelled by the worldwide economic recession and weak prospects for sustainable growth, particularly in developing countries, organisations are challenged to find the right mix of solutions to create the competitive edge needed to ensure their survival in the marketplace. Many of these organisations realise that beyond the necessary technological changes they have to make, the newly emerging business paradigm also compels them to be much more creative and innovative. Unfortunately what stands in the way of this much needed change is the ‘unfreezing’ of the inhibiting traditional corporate culture and human behaviour at the workplace.

March, 2011

  “It’s not an easy road”, sang Buju Banton in his 1995 hit of the same title. For small, developing countries like Jamaica, economically the road has never been easy. Since the global recession which started in 2008, the road has got even more difficult. No sector has been spared the ravages of the recession, including the three major sources of income for many Jamaicans: tourism, remittances and mining. The loss of jobs during this recession should certainly have dispelled totally any notion of a “job for life”...

March, 2011

Jamaica has passed the first three quarterly performance tests required by the 27-month Stand-By Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed in January 2010. The US$1.27-billion loan is disbursed in tranches subject to meeting the conditionalities of the Agreement. To get the loan request approved and receive the first drawdown of approximately US$610-million, the government had to take “prior actions” in the form of imposing a tax package equivalent to 2% of GDP in December 2009, completing the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX), and selling Air Jamaica, both by January 2010.

March, 2011

 The Jamaica Debt Exchange has succeeded in slowing the rate of ‘crowding out’ private sector borrowers from financial institutions as government’s demand for funds has been reduced. However, for the JDX to achieve longterm success there must be some immediate accompanying measures including stability in monetary policy; creating an efficient market for interest rate and significant reduction in the cost of financial transactions.

March, 2011

 The Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) allowed the country to reduce its debt obligation by exchanging high interest government paper for lower interest paper at longer maturities. Collectively, Jamaican taxpayers have benefited from a lower debt profile and interest savings of over US$500-million in 2010. That said, Jamaican borrowers have yet to reap the benefits of a low interest rate regime. Hence the paradox – it costs the nation less than 9% per annum to borrow money from local investors, yet borrowers continue to pay upwards of 33% to borrow money from the financial sector.

March, 2011

   In his book on Jamaican theatre Errol Hill notes the existence of two kinds of ‘native’ theatre, populist and art theatre. Populist theatre, usually in the vernacular language, Patwa, caters to large audiences with comic, often bawdy content-- while English-speaking art theatre, altogether more serious in plot and outlook has lofty aspirations to uplift the moral and intellectual fibre of its audiences.

March, 2011

 Government’s proposed LNG project is fraught with too many uncertainties including source of natural gas, absence of end user take off agreements and financing arrangements. Government should not be determining the fuel source of preference; rather, policy should promote diversification of sources. And government should initiate a renegotiation of the JPS licence with a
view to opening up the national electricity grid to more energy providers.

March, 2011

 If small firms are to fulfil their mandate as creators of jobs and wealth for the masses, government as well as multilateral institutions and stronger private sector institutions must adopt a coherent set of policies including managerial training and creative ways to provide collateral for loans. These will ensure increased lending to small firms while reducing risks to the banks.

March, 2011

 As is the case with other organisations in Jamaica, most if not all the earlier lighting, security, air conditioning, computer, and telecommunication facilities on the Mona Campus of the UWI were  not designed with energy efficiency as a major consideration. So the way forward in energy conservation and efficiency must include investment in energy efficient equipment and facilities.

March, 2011

Countries can affect their international performance based on the resources that are committed to elite sports along with specialization in the sports in which they are more competitive. But, how should resources be allocated between elite sports and sports at the national level? These decisions go beyond economics and competitiveness issues and involve broader national priorities.

 

March, 2011

 As the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaican independence approaches, it’s worth reflecting on how aspects of our cultural life, and their intense interaction with our politics, profoundly shaped our development and progress as a people.