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OPINION&COMMENTARY www.jamaica-gleaner.com •

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gleanerjamaica •

SPENT the early part of this week as a guest of the Ministry of Petroleum and Petroleum Affairs of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago at a conference about transparency surrounding extractive industries like mining, quarrying and drilling for oil and gas. There is concern, globally, about the secrecy that surrounds this sector. Even now, there is no disclosure to the public of the amount of taxes the individual bauxite-mining and -refining companies pay into the coffers of the Government of Jamaica; it is a criminal offence for a government officer to tell the public what any mining company paid to the Government in taxes. Remember: the taxes and royalties they pay are in exchange for digging up the countryside, and either shipping our soil to foreign parts for processing, or processing it locally and disposing of the waste locally. That is why even now we don’t know how much the Jamaican people obtained when AusJam mined gold in the hills of Clarendon; or how much Jamalco or UC Rusal contributes to the public purse. The same prohibition will prevent the Jamaican people from knowing how much we will earn as a country from each

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Transparency and mining company if and when oil is commercially extracted on the Pedro Bank or Walton Bank, or wherever. There was one bauxite company operating in Jamaica that paid no income tax year after year because it claimed its expenses exceeded their income; yet it continued to operate at a loss. The Government had no access to their books to verify this claim. Of course, it is an old multinational trick: the local subsidiary makes a loss, but the parent company gets rich.

Peter Espeut

KILLING FOR A SHILLING

Why don’t the mining companies want the Jamaican public to know how much they contribute to the public purse? Because, it is said, it is such a pitifully small amount. Before the bauxite levy was imposed on the mining companies in 1974, the Jamaican people earned a royalty of one shilling per ton of bauxite mined, an

What’s on diGJamaica.com this week

UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY

How much does your child know about his or her rights? How much do YOU know? Learn the rights of the child and discover ways to share these principles with the little people in your life. http://digjamaica.com/childrens_ rights

DIABETES IN JAMAICA

More than 220,000 Jamaicans between 15 and 74 years old have diabetes, and 10,000 children under age 15 are suffering from the disease as well. Learn the risk factors, symptoms and where Jamaica falls in a global perspective. http://digjamaica.com/diabetes

JAMAICAN HERBS

THE GLEANER, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2012

arrangement negotiated by the colonial authorities. Even with the bauxite levy, the amount we earn compared to what the mining companies earn is quite small. And, of course, when things are not going well, as an incentive we waive the bauxite levy, reverting, I suppose, to one shilling per ton of bauxite mined. The meeting in Trinidad, which was funded by the InterAmerican Development Bank and the German International Development Agency, promoted the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which calls for – in each jurisdiction – a triumvirate of partners to collaborate to increase transparency and accountability: the government, the extracting companies, and civil society. EITI requires each mining, oil and gas company to publish what they pay over to the government, and for governments to

publish what they receive, and for the two figures to be independently reconciled by an approved auditing firm.

OPPORTUNITY FOR CORRUPTION

The secrecy around these large sums of money provides a wonderful opportunity for corruption, which is often grasped. Companies report to their head offices that they pay a certain amount, but might actually pay less; or maybe they pay some to the government and some to persons in high places. And governments may receive one amount, but only some of it actually reaches the public purse. The secrecy surrounding taxes and royalties paid by these extractive industries provides a wonderful opportunity for corruption, which is often grasped. Many countries rich in natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals tend to underperform economically, and suffer from poor governance, resulting in underdevelopment and poverty. Globally, civil-society organisations have campaigned for companies to publish what

An open letter to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

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Imports were the highest for the year, costing the country 16 per cent more than June and US$35m more than the other highest month, March. Meanwhile, exports continue to lag behind. The balance of trade in July was also the worst for the year, decreasing by 30 per cent when compared with the previous month. Check it out on diGJamaica. http://digjamaica.com/new_on_dig

JAAA’s race to the finish

T Where is the love for gay people? THE EDITOR, Sir: WANT to strongly commend a small group of brave gay Jamaicans who were protesting in front of the Jamaica Consulate in New York City on Monday, November 19. They were expressing outrage at the beating of the allegedly gay student at the University of Technology, Jamaica. Honestly, I was startled by their fearlessness. I was renewing my Jamaican passport that day and I came out just in time to witness the protest. Out of curiosity, I stood across the street and captured their image on my cellphone. Then I heard a gentleman shouting, “B—-man fi dead!� Several media people were there videoing and taking pictures. I have lived in the United States for more than 30 years, and although I don’t support the homosexual lifestyle, because of my Christian beliefs, I don’t support the inhumane atrocities

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that are sometimes meted towards this group of people. As a Jamaican, I was ashamed to see this. My grandson is gay and currently living in Jamaica. Not a single day passes where I don’t fear for his safety and well-being. I don’t think Jamaica will offer equal rights to homosexuals anytime soon, but I hope, for the country’s sake, that the Government offers protection under the Constitution from discrimination for gay and lesbian citizens. The image of gays fleeing to the US and other countries to live freely and safely is not good for Jamaica’s image, particularly here in the US. This is not the Jamaica I knew. We love our people, no matter who they are or where they come from, for out of many, we are one. May God continue to bless our nation. DEBBIE J.

HE HIGHLY anticipated election to choose t h e executive of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) is now only a matter of days away. All three candidates are expressing confidence and believe they have a genuine chance of winning. Lincoln Eatmon is getting some traction from the wider public, who feel he is not necessarily a great talker but does have a reputation for getting things done. He is said to be a bright man, and is widely regarded as one of the best legal minds in Jamaica. The votes, though, will not be coming from the wider public, but by a group of 370-380 delegates. Eatmon doesn’t have the instant name recognition of a Grace Jackson or a Dr Warren Blake – not in track and field, at any rate. This could be a mark against Eatmon, but because of his relatively low profile, he also doesn’t have any baggage. Eatmon is said to be backed by Teddy McCook, which is surprising enough. Teddy and Captain Horace Burrell are arguably the two most highprofile and influential sports administrators in modern Jamaica. McCook cannot be underestimated. He is still widely respected and has some clout with the track and field electorate. Teddy bleeds purple in many people’s eyes, and for him to support Eatmon, a Calabar man, ahead of Blake, who went to Kingston College, is seen as strange, but telling. Again, assuming that it is true. Teddy is not in the island, and when I checked, I heard he wouldn’t be here until the eve of the election. What campaigning he could do, therefore, is debatable.

IS BLAKE SAFE?

Dr Warren Blake, I was told by several insiders, has a lot of safe votes, maybe more than the other two candidates. This is not unexpected. When Howard Aris passed away, the inner circle voted to have Dr Blake ahead of Jackson as interim president. He was seen as one who would maintain the status quo of what track and field leadership under Aris had come to mean, and besides that, he

Orville Higgins

was, and is, still male, and crucially to some, a former Kingston College student. Those with whom I speak are insistent that the KC factor should not be taken lightly. However, in the time that Dr Blake has presided, he has done enough to convince the populace that he is the real deal. Blake’s leaked letter to Ludlow Watt, spelling out some concerns he had with the running of the association, hasn’t helped his cause. Nor is his role, real or imagined, in the public spat between Glen Mills and Donald Quarrie.

LOYALTY FACTOR

Despite this, it is felt by many insiders that Blake has a greater loyalty base than the other two, and that if Eatmon or Grace Jackson were to win, they would have to pull on more of the ‘uncommitted voters’. Another telling factor could be the fact that Blake and his team might have had far earlier access to the list than the other two candidates, because as the incumbent, Blake might have known the identity of the electorate before the other two candidates. Grace Jackson was the latest of the three running for the top post to start campaigning, which may be a disadvantage. Despite this, she is seen by some insiders as a dark horse who could garner enough votes to make a serious impact. She is a former Olympian with a ‘name’, which carries a decided advantage. She is a woman, and the bald fact is that her sex could work against her. She is also somebody who could have the greatest support among the athletes, but their numbers represent a small part of the delegate list. My sources tell me that at least one of the camps wanted Grace out of the race. She told me personally that she has no intention of pulling out and feels she has the clout to go all the way. Who will take charge of Jamaica’s track and field for the next four years? I think I know the answer, but for now, I will ask, what say you? n KLAS’s Orville Higgins is a sportscaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

 4HE HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE OVER THE 7 #ARIBBEAN IS EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN TOWARDS THE WEEKEND ! PERSISTENT TROUGH IS STILL OVER SECTIONS OF THE # #ARIBBEAN AND A WEAK COLD FRONT WILL AFFECT SECTIONS OF THE % #ARIBBEAN  /N THE NATIONAL SCENE IT WILL BE SUNNY TO PARTLY CLOUDY AND WINDY )N THE AFTERNOON LIGHT SHOWERS COULD OCCUR OVER NORTHERN AND EASTERN 3UNNY TO PARTLY 3UNNY TO PARTLY 0ARTLY TO MOSTLY PARISHES AND OVER HILLY AREAS OF THE  CLOUDY

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n Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

THE EDITOR, Sir:

TRADE DATA

CONTRIBUTED

they pay to governments, so that the people can make governments account for how the money is spent. In 2002, then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the EITI at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the EITI became a reality in 2003. And EITI has turned up discrepancies; some have since declined. Transparency does reduce corruption, although it cannot eliminate it. For example, EITI cannot detect under-the-table payments by mining companies to government officials to obtain prospecting and mining licences. Trinidad has signed on to EITI and hopes to be fully compliant by 2013. Their big hold-up is the same as ours: Trinidadian laws also make it a criminal offence to publish the taxes each company contributes to the coffers of the government. The law is being changed. Jamaica has not signed on to EITI. Jamaica does not have transparency with respect to political donations. Could Trafigura have happened if Jamaica had signed on to EITI?

Ja needs to produce

Love a cup of good ol’ Jamaica ‘bush tea’ on a rainy afternoon? Or maybe first thing in the morning to ‘wash off yu heart’? Whatever the reason, learn about some of the roots and leaves that have been used in Jamaican home remedies for ages http://www.digjamaica.com/jamai can_herbs

Protesters in front of the Jamaican Consulate in New York on Monday.

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AM writing to you in my capacity as a local manufacturer, notwithstanding the fact that I am the deputy president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association. I wrote a similar letter to your predecessor, Mr Bruce Golding, and to both of his appointed ministers of industry and commerce. I sincerely hope that my suggestion will at least find some favour with you as it seemed to have been completely ignored previously. Madam Prime Minister, I feel strongly and passionately that the ONLY way for Jamaica to help itself out of its economic woes is to produce, produce, produce. The Government, as the largest purchaser of all goods in the country, needs to lead by example and start to buy Jamaican, wherever and whenever possible. I know that there are some procurement policies that have been put in place and are being worked on. However, they are simply inadequate and have proven so for a long time. My suggestion is as follows: You appoint hand-picked persons from the society, of high integrity to sit in an oversight capacity at all ministries and government agencies, whose sole responsibility is to ensure that no stone is left unturned, to ensure that every dollar of the Government’s money is spent on locally manufactured products, when and where possible.

GRADUAL SHIFT

It is my opinion that if this were to be done, it would start to change the mindset of the ministers, permanent secretaries and purchasing officers, and would ultimately lead to a gradual shift in the way procurement is undertaken in Jamaica. Prime Minister, I strongly feel that if you were to do this, we would see small companies turning into medium-size companies, and medium-size companies turning into large ones. Employment would begin to rise and the economy would start to grow at unprecedented rates. We need to change our culture on this matter, but it must start at the top. We cannot continue to ask people to buy Jamaican when our Government continues to buy imported products as a general rule. I know that what I am suggesting seems to be a bit of micromanagement; however, it is necessary until we overturn this anomaly that exists. From the furniture to the toilet paper and everything in-between that appointee should be given every reason possible why we would have to buy from overseas or a non-Jamaican manufactured product before the order was signed. This initiative will go a far way in helping to build the capacity and to become internationally competitive in a variety of industries over time. I am available to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the matter in further detail METRY SEAGA Managing Director JFP

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