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Letters
Saturday, 18 June 2016
Highway 2000 - Highway to South-East Coast Coast
Topic: Capital Facilities

Dear Editor:

Your article “PM Outlines Plans for South Coast Roadway” published on Thursday, June 16, 2016 states that current administration will not construct the south coast highway as previously planned for south-eastern Jamaica.

It would seem the Government has forgotten that the Logistics Hub facility stretches across four parishes: Clarendon, St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Thomas. In fact, a bunkering and commodity transhipment port is proposed to be built in St. Thomas, and highway 2000 links it with the remaining parts of the hub.

This alone is justification for the project. Or, has this component of the Logistics Hub also been scrapped? I hope not, especially considering that the proposed location of the port at Cow Bay (Old Bowden Wharf), near Yallas, has a naturally deep draught capable of berthing the largest of vessels.

If these plans are still active though, it should be realised that companies are spending billions of dollars to construct facilities in St. Catherine because they are expecting, in the words of Nestle Jamaica’s Country manager Jurg Blaser, “... a logistic footprint closer to the port and the major consumption centre of the corporate area ...”.

If the government is being pressured by tourism interests, it may be wise to consider that the future success of the Logistic Hub Initiative lies in the balance. What we need are policy decisions made in the national rather than sectoral interest. The widened Panama Canal is to be officially inaugurated on Sunday June 26, 2017 and we are ill-prepared for it.

Posted by phcjam at 2:43 PM EDT
Doing Business in Jamaica 2017
Topic: Business

By October 2016, the World Bank and International Financial Corporation will publish their 14th report on the Ease of Doing Business Index. The present government will have little opportunity to influence the outcome of that report, because the period that will be under review ends next month.

Nevertheless, it is important that the thrust to improve Jamaica’s performance does not wane. Referring to Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency in “Jamaica Takes the Leap in Doing Business Indicators: 5 Lessons for the Wider Caribbean”, Navita Anganu-Ramroop lamented that:

“Not all countries are bothered by rankings, and therefore not all countries make a concerted effort to change and attempt to improve same, failing to realize that the competitiveness of nations are equally important and necessary for the competitiveness of firms operating within the country”.

Doing Business 2015 also states that Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the regions “with the smallest share of economies implementing regulatory reforms...”. In fact, Jamaica and The Bahamas were the only Caribbean nations that actually improved their global ranking in that report.

The Bahamas moved from 108th to 106th, while Jamaica moved from 71st to 64th out of 189 global economies.  In the Gleaner publication dated October 28, 2015, the article “Jamaica Cited for Doing Reforms in Doing Business Report” stated that:

“Jamaica... has been cited by the World Bank, alongside Costa Rica and Mexico, as executing the most reforms in the region in the last five years”, and “also found that Jamaica is among the global top 10 improvers ‘as it implemented a regional high of four reforms’ .

Mexico ranked 38th , the highest ranking economy in LAC. Costa Rica is 5th and Jamaica 6th . Even though Jamaica moved up 7 places globally, it only managed to hold on to its 6th position, because Costa Rica moved from 79th to 58th globally, up 21 places, thus preventing Jamaica from advancing regionally.

With the widening of the Panama Canal and construction of a second canal in Nicaragua, a significant increase in trade and investment can be expected in the Caribbean Basin. So, improving competitiveness of local firms is imperative and this through greater effort than before.

It is also important to realize that 11 out of the 12 highest ranked nations within LAC are located in the Caribbean Basin. Jamaica cannot afford to slack up on its previous effort. It should be of no comfort that greater trade is expected in the Greater Caribbean if we are ill prepared to benefit from it.


Posted by phcjam at 2:40 PM EDT
Monday, 29 April 2013
Devaluation is no strategy for growth
Topic: Government Policies

The Editor, sir

 

I have been following the ongoing debate about devaluing the Jamaican dollar.  Kudos to the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) on hosting the forum “Jamaica $100 to US $1: A Cause for Panic or an Opportunity for Growth?”.  But, I cannot believe that devaluation is still being advocated as a strategy for growth.

                In the article titled “Devaluation Solution Persists Despite Contrary Evidence” in the Financial Gleaner of 1 March 2013, Wilberne Persaud rightly stated that: “… devaluation of the Jamaican dollar does not really deliver increased exports and decreased imports.  It did little over the years to correct incipient and chronic deficits in our balance of payments”.

For those still not convinced, Dr. Michael Witter had assessed our exchange rate policy since 1962, and presented his findings in a paper titled “Exchange Rate Policy in Jamaica: A Critical Assessment”.  His conclusion was that devaluation is insensitive to the effects of speculation by those lacking confidence in Jamaica’s productive sectors; and it does not recognize the inelastic demand for imports both for production and consumption.

                I am not advocating the fixing of the exchange rate.  Rather, I simply support the views of those quoted that devaluation is not a strategy for growth, or policy to correct balance of payment deficits.  It has been proven to be otherwise.  We need to address our lack of competitiveness by some other means.

I am, etc.

 

Paul Hay


Posted by phcjam at 1:01 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 11:13 PM EDT
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Wyndham Fire
Topic: Building Services

On Thursday 14 March 2013, I had to divert from my usual morning commute to work due to the fire at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.  So said, I will now comment on your editorial titled: “Wyndham Should Warn Others” as published in your Saturday, 16 March 2013, edition.  Wyndham should warn of more than you mentioned.

                Firstly, I support your advise that “the tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for all of corporate Jamaica to ensure that their emergency/disaster plans are fine tuned and tested and ready for roll-out”. However, the difficulty of guests finding the assembly point is the only such occurrence of inadequacy reported of the emergency/disaster plan.  But, there were a number of failures of the building services: namely, poor lighting of the means of escape and smoke-filled stairwell.  From this perspective, the comments of the Director of Tourism Mr. John Lynch takes on new significance.  I doubt the comments were meant purely of aesthetic concerns.

                Emergency lighting and exit signs should have been fully functional in the means of escape, and the ventilation system should have pressurized the stairwell to blow smoke away from it.  The fact that the smoke even got into the stairwell is itself troubling from the stand point that the areas of extensive damage are not directly connected to the stairwell.  To fully comprehend the importance of smoke management, it should be understood that it is smoke, and not fire, that is the major cause of death during fires.  Otherwise, the lack of an automatic sprinkler system is not a concern under most cases where adequate provision has been made for manual means of extinguishing fires: such as fire extinguishers and wet-rise fire hoses.

                Finally, you also mentioned the malfunctioning of the hydraulic platform used by the Fire Department.  This made it even more difficult for the Fire Department to reach the area from which the smoke was emanating.  So, kudos is due to our fire service who worked under difficult conditions, failing mechanical systems, and personal injury to bring the fire under control.  They were still present on the site that evening as I returned from work.


Posted by phcjam at 6:50 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 9:33 PM EDT
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Let NWC Champion Generation of Hydroelectric Power
Topic: Public Facilities
Please allow me this opportunity to propose to the government that it directs the National Water Commission [NWC] to champion the development of hydro-electric power generation in Jamaica.  With exception of our bauxite companies, NWC is likely the largest consumer of electricity in the nation, but definitely so within the government.  Initially, this could take the form of self-generation to provide power to operate its pumping network, but need not be limited to this in the future.In a recent study involving Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it was concluded that potential hydro-power capacity was more than double that being used, though only marginal hydro-power plants were planned for the near future.  I would suspect the same for Jamaica, but who else is better able to evaluate our potential and advise us than NWC?Most of us think hydro-electric plants need to be large facilities, like the 306 MW plant planned for Cost Rica or the 165 MW plant to be constructed on Guyana’s Amalia Falls.  But, low-head hydro-electric generators are available with capacities from 6kW to 5MW.  Riva Riddim ecotourism-park, proposed for the White River Valley, just outside Ocho Rios, is designed to use three 6kW hydro power generators to provide a significant portion of its energy needs.With implementation, this proposal will reduce NWC’s dependence on JPS for power.  Its pumping facilities could be located outside the grid, in remote areas, where it could better serve its customers and reduce the risk of being connecting to a grid exposed to storm-force winds.  Their operating costs would fall with use of more efficient plants that do not require importation of expensive oil.  And, the country would benefit from more efficient service, improvement in our balance of payment, and reduced liability under the Petro-Caribe Agreement. 

Posted by phcjam at 2:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 3:51 PM EST
Singapore shows why doing business is harder here
Topic: Construction Industry

Dear Editor,      

         I read with interest your article in the Caribbean Report, of 24 October 2012, titled “ Doing Business just got harder: Jamaica slips two Spots in World Bank Rankings”.  It is clear, from the assessment, that regulatory reforms were instituted in the majority of economies to improve ease of doing business.  But, it might not be clear how much new technologies played a part in the best of the regulatory practices.  This in mind, I write to briefly explain how Singapore manages to lead the world: at least with regard to dealing with construction projects.   

As early as 1995, Singapore’s Ministry of National Development implemented a project called CORENET: which stands for Construction and Real Estate NETwork.  Its objective was to re-engineer processes in the construction industry to achieve faster turn-around times, as well as increased productivity and quality.  CORENET was implemented by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority in collaboration with other public and private organizations.  An I.T. infrastructure was developed to facilitate integration of processes in a building’s life cycle: such as Design, Procurement, Construction, and Maintenance.

         The current effort provides (1) information services to speed up business planning and decision making; (2) electronic building plan submission, checking and approval; as well as (3) IT standards for communication between involved parties.  The benefits involve provision of (a) one-stop convenience for private and public sectors alike; (b) one-stop submission of plans to multiple authorities from any location at any time; (c) online access to check submission status; and (d) single billboard for approving authorities to post submission status.

         While we argue how to approve submissions within 3-months, Singapore is doing it earlier.  But, this did not occur overnight.  It started with the political will to improve the system, then the allocation of resources and controls to achieve it.  It really depends on how important business is to the political directorate and whether it is willing to look beyond short-term fixes to a long-term overhaul for the ultimate good of Jamaica, and those doing business in it. 


Posted by phcjam at 2:47 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 4:54 PM EST
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Construction Industry's Use of updated Codes and Standards
Topic: Construction Industry

                Thank you for your article titled “Pay Now or Pay Later”, published in the Sunday Observer dated 23 September 2012.  Loy Malcolm’s advocacy for updated codes and standards being used in the construction industry is well founded.  But as with so many other things in Jamaica, implementation is the real problem: not the inability to have them drafted or their lack of acceptance.

                I can attest to the need for these codes and standards.  While working in the Projects Unit of the Ministry of Health, we had to use British standards to rehabilitate our hospitals, because our specialist health-facility consultants were British and no local codes existed for this purpose.  Had the original U.S. consultants who drafted the hospital programme been used for this phase of works, we probably would have adopted their standards.  We also need codes to address “green”, or sustainable, buildings.

                The industry is generally in agreement with Ms. Malcolm.  Updating codes and standards has even been written into Jamaica’s Vision 2030 Sector Plan for the Construction Industry.  Building professionals will even give of their time and effort freely to achieve this end.  Again, I can attest to the commitment of professionals that voluntarily worked on the steering and working groups that drafted the local adaptation of the International Building Code [IBC] in 2006.

                The IBC gets updated regularly every three (3) years but, after six (6) years, the relevant legislation has still not been passed to enforce our code.  It is hoped there will be no further delay on this matter.  Jamaica’s construction industry is poised to return to pre-recession levels of activity in the medium term, and planning has already begun on buildings that will be designed in the short-term.  If we are really serious about codes and standards, the time to act is now.  If we really want Jamaica to progress, let us stop procrastinating on matters as serious as this.


Posted by phcjam at 11:48 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2012 12:18 PM EDT
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Roof Drainage Problems at Cornwall Court
Topic: Building Defects

THE EDITOR, Sir:

 

Please allow me to respond to the letter from “Frustrated homeowner, Cornwall Court”, entitled: “Faulty Houses Drown Residents In Problems”, published on Saturday, 24 March 2012.  First off,  It is my hope that the National Housing Trust [NHT] would have already responded satisfactorily to this letter.  Otherwise,  I believe the matter will only be resolved through the courts. 

 

I do not know the specifics of this case but assume that the housing scheme is relatively new; in which case, very little if any maintenance would have been required of the residents.  The fact that other residents have the same problem, at this early stage, indicates that the NHT did sell you defective houses, though most likely unknowingly.  This defect may be due to defective workmanship, on the part of the specialist roofing contractor;  poor supervision, on the part of the general contractor; poor contract administration or defective design, on the part of the architect.

 

Under typical building contracts, clients like the NHT will take-over buildings at a stage known as “practical completion”.  As the name suggests, the building may not be fully complete; but, is expected to be completed within six (6) months: during which time, the contractor is responsible for making good all defects and any other that may arise during such period, at their own expense.  In this instance, it is my belief that the “defects liability period”, as it is called, has already expired and the NHT cannot rectify the matter without some expense on their part, even through the courts, and is attempting to pass of the matter unto the homeowners as their “lack of maintenance”.

 

My advice to the homeowner would be to have an experienced contractor look at the roof to determine the precise cause of the leaks, in order to confirm that NHT is indeed responsible for the repairs.  I give lectures at the Caribbean School of Architecture on the subject of Rainwater Drainage, and you are welcome to peruse notes given to the architecture students online at http://bit.ly/GWBdUB .  This might be particularly helpful if it is a design fault.  If it is confirmed that NHT is responsible, the contractor should estimate the cost of rectifying the defect, or defects; and, NHT should again be approached on the matter.

 

Failing any satisfactory outcome, all affected homeowners should collectively seek legal advice.  Due to the prospect of lengthy  court proceedings, homeowners might have to effect repairs at their own expense, and seek compensation through the courts.  But, this should only be undertaken on legal advice, which I am not capable of giving.  Again, it is my hope that the matter will be resolved without resorting to the courts, but ultimately that this defect will be rectified, irrespective of the path.

 

I am, etc.

 

 

Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)
Managing Partner
PAUL HAY Capital Projects

Caribbean Capital Projects Management





P. O. Box 3367
Constant Springs, Kgn. 8
Jamaica, W.I.

tel: 1 (876) 756-0631
cel: 1 (876) 324-4274
fax: 1 (876) 756-0631

e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com
skype name: phcjam
twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam
profile: http://www.linkedin.com/company/paul-hay-capital-projects
web: http://www.phcjam.com


Posted by phcjam at 3:10 PM EDT
Monday, 19 March 2012
Building Law
Topic: Government Policies

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In a letter to the editor published on July 14, 2010, entitled “Pass Building Law Now”, I made note of the long awaited enactment of legislation and national building-control framework.  To date, no progress has been made in this regard.

In your Editor's Forum, published on February 7, 2010, experts discussed lessons learnt from the Haitian earthquake six months earlier, and stated that "the failure of successive governments to pass legislation to introduce a national building code could put the lives of many Jamaicans at risk if the country gets hit by a major earthquake."  The editorial of February 10, even noted that "substantial work has (sic) already been done on a code for Jamaica.  It ought to be possible to complete the relevant law, in relatively short order, and have it passed by Parliament."  In an article titled 'New Building Codes Coming', on April 4, 2010, it was even stated that "Cabinet has (sic) issued instruction for the drafting of legislation to establish a national control framework for the island."  Yet, the completion of this law has now taken over two years, with no signs of completion in short order.  Are we waiting on the loss of lives before we act?

Having been involved in one of the several working groups charged with the review and adoption of the International Code Council's [ICC] 2003 edition of the International Building Code [IBC] late in 2004, I spoke of the dedication and effort made by local academics, architects, engineers and lawyers, who volunteered their time to complete that goal, and noted that the IBC was consistently revised by the ICC on a three-year cycle.  So, the code reviewed had been revised twice up to the date of the letter.  Parliament has now failed to pass the relevant law before the IBC 2003 has been revised a third time.

We now have a new administration in charge.  So, I restate my appeal for the enactment of legislation and national building-control framework.  Again, the longer Parliament takes to deal with this matter, the more outdated the work becomes, and the lives of more Jamaicans are put at risk.  Let us not wait for tragedy to hit before we act.  Let us be pro-active, for a chance.

I am, etc.

 

 Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)

Managing Partner
PAUL HAY Capital Projects

Caribbean Capital Projects Management


P. O. Box 3367
Constant Springs, Kgn. 8
Jamaica, W.I.
 
tel: 1 (876) 756-0631
cel: 1 (876) 324-4274
fax: 1 (876) 756-0631
 
e-mail:
paul.hay@phcjam.com
skype name: phcjam
twitter:
www.twitter.com/phcjam
profile:
http://www.linkedin.com/company/paul-hay-capital-projects
web:
http://www.phcjam.com


Posted by phcjam at 5:26 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 19 March 2012 5:45 PM EDT
Friday, 9 March 2012
Response to: A logical Approach to Economic and Social Development
Topic: Energy Use
Dear Editor, I would like to commend Dennis Chung on his contibution “A logical Approach to Economic and Social Development” in the Caribbean Business Report, dated Friday, 2 March 2012.  I support his observation that “the only realistic short-term project now is tax reform”: not public sector rationalization, nor pension reform.  We cannot afford to labour upon short-term initiatives any more.  Our comparative advantage and international productivity needs to be addressed  to deal with the trade deficit.  Towards this end, I concur that investments need to be made in capital infrastructure in areas of comparative advantage: notably tourism and agriculture.  Also, our food and oil imports need to be reduced.  But, this will not be an easy task, particularly with regard to reducing our dependence on oil imports. In this regard, I would also like to commend the University of the West Indies, and Professor A. Anthony Chen in particular, for hosting the Lecture Series “Climate-Energy Nexus: Call to Action”.  In the last lecture on 21 February 2012, Mr. William Saunders spoke on “The Energy Situation in Jamaica” where he gave an historical perspective of Jamaica’s worsening energy situation particularly as it relates to poor political decisions, or lack thereof.  Jamaica is a high consumer of oil, but before we blame it all on the politician we should be aware that on the demand side we have a problem with rising per capita consumption: which means we give too little regard to energy efficiency and conservation. Jamaica’s Energy policy 2006 – 2020 tells us that 36.6% of oil imports is used in Bauxite/Alumina processing, and 7.7% for aviation and shipping: both being export activities.  24.7% is used in the electricity sector and 23.5% in the transport sector.  So, only reduction of oil imports in these latter sectors would appreciably reduce our trade deficit.  In the transport sector, the Obama administration allowed older inefficient vehicles to be traded in at concessionary rates for new ones; but would this result in the desired 30 – 50% reduction of oil imports?  In the electricity sector, we now have net-metering, and Germany even paid rates in excess of that charged by utility companies to encourage production of solar energy; but, most of our energy demand occurs at night between 5:00 – 11:00 p.m. To our limitations of short-term and extreme thinking, let us add poor execution.  The Jamaica Energy Policy green paper was completed six years ago and we’ve had an energy-efficiency building code for seventeen years now.  How much has changed during this time?  Approximately, 60% of our electricity is consumed by commercial and industrial groups.  If we are truly concerned with dealing with our trade deficit, these groups have to be at the forefront of our effort.  I write not to discourage the forward-thinking among us but to forewarn that the task at hand will not be easily attained without hard work and dedication.  Are we up to the task?  Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)
Managing Partner
PAUL HAY Capital Projects

Caribbean Capital Projects Management





P. O. Box 3367
Constant Springs, Kgn. 8
Jamaica, W.I.

tel: 1 (876) 756-0631
cel: 1 (876) 324-4274
fax: 1 (876) 756-0631

e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com
skype name: phcjam
twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam
profile: http://www.linkedin.com/company/paul-hay-capital-projects
web: http://www.phcjam.com

  

Posted by phcjam at 5:07 PM EST

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