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Letters
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Competitiveness in the Jamaican Telecom Sector
Topic: Business
Dear Editor, I write with regard to Al Edwards’ article entitled “Answering LIME’s Factotums – Here and Elsewhere”, published in the Caribbean Business Report of September 30, 2011.  I have been following the debate about the Digicel/Claro deal and have also noted the two letters referred to: namely, “Don’t Tie the Competition’s Hands Behind Its Back” by Martin Bailey, and “Disingenuous Mr. Edwards” by David Headley.  However, I happen to subscribe to the views these letter-writers on the matter. In fact, I take exception to the tone of Mr. Edwards’ article.  Irrespective of whether he disagrees with their views or not, I would have expected a seasoned journalist to show more restraint and at the very least respect their right to hold an opposing view: just as I expect to respect his viewpoint.  Nevertheless, let me get “to the heart of the matter”. The matter at hand is to ensure competition exists between local telecoms, be they LIME, Claro, Digicel, or any other: the same competition that allowed Digicel to become the market leader.  As such, this organization of industry could be discussed without reference to any of the know competitors and the letter writers seen to be simply defending the status quo and being unwilling to see the gains eroded by allowing one telecom to achieve market dominance.  If we assume for the moment that “LIME has lost its competitive edge”, is this not reason in itself to ensure competition is maintained in the marketplace? It was also said that Claro “had to retreat due to its inability to permeate Digicel’s impenetrability”.  But, didn’t Digicel also retreat from Claro’s market?  When Claro took over Oceanic Digital’s MiPhone operation in Jamaica, it was rumoured that this was in response to Digicel’s entry into their primary market.  So, Claro’s primary goal would not have been to become market leader in Jamaica but rather to ensure Digicel could not expand in their primary market.  Who really achieved their objectives here?  If Jamaica did not have a third telecom, this scenario could not have been easily realized. The free market system cannot be left unregulated.  It is the duty of government to provide a framework which facilitates competition.  The approval of Digicel’s acquisition of Claro Jamaica was granted by the Prime Minister “in a statement to parliament on August 30, 2011” with conditions.  It is reasonable to assume that the condition of Digicel having to operate Claro Jamaica as a distinct operation was a save-guard to preserve competition.  So, Digicel cannot “rationalize its operations, unify and update its network”. Despite what we remember of Cable and Wireless Jamaica, before they became LIME, let us not forget that Cable and Wireless Jamaica was once called the Jamaica Telephone Company: an entity which had been nationalized by the government at the time and was later divested to LIME’s parent company Cable and Wireless: just as our ‘beloved’ Jamaica Public Service was also divested.  Even if it had been common knowledge at the time that Cable and Wireless would have been granted a guaranteed monopoly, no one would have cared.  We all thought what we were getting was superior to what we had.  Let us not make the same mistake again.  Let us maintain and improve what we have achieved to date and not erode it by allowing any telecom to achieve market dominance, especially by acquisition. Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management    P. O. Box 3367Constant Springs, Kgn. 8Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631cel: 1 (876) 324-4274fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.comskype name: phcjamtwitter: www.twitter.com/phcjamprofile: http://www.linkedin.com/company/paul-hay-capital-projectsweb: http://www.phcjam.com 

Posted by phcjam at 4:29 PM EDT
Thursday, 12 May 2011
Energy Woe
Topic: Government Policies
THE EDITOR, Sir:                 In your editorial of Thursday 12 May 2011, you mentioned “energy was apparently not to be at the forefront of Mr. Golding’s strategic thinking during his budget presentation” and the general “lack of specificity, and only cursory mention of specific initiatives … that are critical to the creation of a competitive economy”. This failure to address the medium to long-term initiatives for the supply-side of the energy policy is indeed puzzling. But, neither was the short to medium-term initiatives for the demand-side mentioned: although it has otherwise been reported that the IDB has agreed to support the energy efficiency and conservation program within the public sector.                It may be recalled from my last letter, entitled “Great move on conservation” published on 2 May 2011, that I was concerned about the lack of specificity regarding the implementation of the program to reduce government’s energy bill by 15%: especially since government buildings are largely energy inefficient.  I was hoping my concerns would have been addressed by now. Instead, I have all the more reason to be worried. After reading my letter, a friend directed me to an IDB report entitled “Jamaica Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program”. This document outlines the issues, program objectives and coordination with Country Strategy/Programming objectives of the program. It even states, and I quote, “preliminary calculations  for the program confirms the potential for energy savings in the public sector of up to US$ 7million per year”. The problem is that this represents 6.7% of government’s energy consumption, not 15%.                Were the preliminary calculations way off the mark, or did the government simply disregard this assessment and stuck to their 15% target that was not achieved last financial year? I suspect the latter to be true. If so, there will be a deficit in the budget of at least US$ 8million on this item alone, which is the best case scenario if close to 7% savings is realized. But most likely it will not. The IDB document outlines three components of the program: (1) establishment of an executing unit to oversee the investment, (2) implementation of energy efficiency and conservation measures, and (3) demand-side management program and energy efficiency/conservation education. The former and latter components have been reported as being fulfilled, but what about the energy efficiency and conservation measures? The 7% energy savings will only be achieved after their implementation. Until such time, this degree of savings will not be achieved, which means the budget deficit can be expected to be approximately US$ 10million on this budget item alone.                Year after year we create budgets but fail to control our expenditure to achieve them. More than likely, our current budget is destined to such a fate. However in this instance, failure to control expenditure cannot be attributed to the implementing ministries and agencies but to poor planning and unrealistic expectations. It was hoped the government would lead by example in this matter of energy efficiency and conservation, but it appears this is not to be. When is this and subsequent administrations going to take the country’s energy security seriously. The country’s present and future competiveness is at stake. I am, etc. Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management    P. O. Box 3367, Kingston 8, Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631 cel: 1 (876) 324-4274 fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 web: www.phcjam.com e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com skype name: phcjam profile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjam twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam

Posted by phcjam at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011 1:17 PM EDT
Monday, 2 May 2011
Great move on conservation
Topic: Government Policies
THE EDITOR, Sir: 

                With regard to your article entitled “Civil Servants trained in Energy Conservation”, published on Friday 29 April 2011, the Ministry of Energy and Mining is to be commended for taking this initiative, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is enlightening that those trained to be energy monitors are taken from various ministries, government departments and agencies to lead their respective organizations in implementing our government’s special policy of achieving energy efficiency and conservation.

                When I first read of government’s intention to drastically cut the public sector’s energy bill by 15% during the current financial year, I thought this, like the previous year’s directive, was doomed to failure because nothing had changed this time around. I stand corrected: a change has indeed been made. Not only has a specific goal and time-frame been set, but one that is measureable and now seems achievable. I am encouraged, but still worried that further resources that are required are yet to be allocated.

                Resources have been allocated in this planned process of organizational change, where staff has been trained to be supportive of the initiative; and it is obvious some form of energy management is to be implemented, though yet unannounced. But, a 15% reduction in energy use is ambitious, and made all the more so by having a building stock that is for the most part not designed for energy efficiency or conservation. We are told of contingencies to deal with energy costs, and the cutting of budgetary allocations set aside for utilities. But more is needed. I look forward to hearing about the remaining measures to be instituted. Because, this cannot be achieved without further resources being allocated. 

I am, etc.

 Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management  P. O. Box 3367, Kingston 8, Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631 cel: 1 (876) 324-4274 fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 web: www.phcjam.com e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com skype name: phcjam profile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjam twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam

Posted by phcjam at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011 1:18 PM EDT
Friday, 29 April 2011
Big savings with more than one solar technology
Topic: Energy Use

Dear Editor,

                I am in agreement with Noel Mitchell’s letter entitled “Solar is the way to go”, which was printed in your paper, dated 27 April 2011. Jamaica should be utilizing much more solar energy than we presently do. But, utilization of photovoltaic (PV) panels (i.e. solar panels) is somewhat limited by their current inefficiency. Hence, large unshaded areas are required for their installation. Whenever a building exceeds three stories there is simply not enough roof space to accommodate all the panels needed to provide all of the buildings’ energy demand. So, individuals and small businesses most likely possess the required space to accommodate the panels, but initial costs may be unaffordable. Conversely “large buildings such as hotels, large office complexes”, some government ministries and hospitals will not have all the required space, though they may have the means to afford the installation. This is also the case with solar water heaters, and both are liabilities when hurricanes threaten.

However, an often overlooked yet effective solar technology is the use of daylight as a substitute for electric light. This is called “Daylighting”. You will realise that natural light was used to illuminate buildings before the advent of electricity. Today, it may simply entail the use of switches to control lighting fixtures adjacent to windows independent from areas deeper in a room: which will be darker. But, research has shown that occupants cannot be trusted to control these switches effectively; so, the current technology uses photocells to automatically dim or switch off electric lights as natural lighting levels increase. Again, space is an issue. Typically only spaces up to 4.5 or 6m in from windows can be “daylit”, though this can be increased by technology that is already in use at PCJ’s office building. Nevertheless, research again shows that daylighting will effect significant energy savings under these conditions, and especially in environments as our own.

So, it is possible to utilize solar energy for the greater part of our buildings’ energy demand. But, potential savings are even greater with use of more than one solar technology. Our government has proposing to use PV panels for street lights, which would be a worthwhile investment if and when it gets implemented. However, it may prove even more effective to provide incentives for the private sector to utilize more solar energy, while the government itself seeks to use more solar energy. Then, we could have a bright future, even when the price of oil is volatile.

 Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management P. O. Box 3367Kingston 8Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631cel: 1 (876) 324-4274fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 web: www.phcjam.come-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.comskype name: phcjamprofile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjamtwitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam 

Posted by phcjam at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Stop giving baskets to carry water

THE EDITOR, Sir:

 

I write with regard to your article of Wednesday, 20 April 2011, entitled “Cut Energy Use, Finance ministry tells state bodies”.  The government is to be commended for seeking to reduce its energy use by 15% within this fiscal year. However, this initiative seems doomed to repeat the fate of the previous year: when the same directive was issued and most ministries and departments failed to realize the target. What really has changed?

 

It is not often that government initiatives have specific goals, are measureable and time-based. But, I do not believe this initiative is  realistic. Where are the resources needed to implement it? We are told of contingencies to deal with energy costs, and the cutting of budgetary allocations set aside for utilities. But, what has been provided to effect this programme of energy conservation, or the strict conservation measures to be implemented? This may be disclosed later as the budget debate continues. But, let me put this in perspective.

 

Building Codes for energy conservation typically seek to have new buildings effect a 30% reduction of energy use compared to existing buildings.  With the exception of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and the proposed Students’ Loan Bureau, none of government’s buildings were designed for energy conservation. This significantly reduces their potential for energy conservation; unless government is aware of areas of wastage that can be addressed. Nevertheless, a 15% reduction in energy use may be attained with implementation of some type of energy management system and planned process for organizational change: where staff is trained to be supportive of the initiative.

 

This is not a residential environment, where a single individual can control the scheduled operating hours for appliances and lights. It is significantly more complex for an organization such as the government and needs to be approached as a distinct project: key milestones established, target dates set, general and specific responsibilities delegated and satisfactorily resources allocated. Automatic timers may be needed to control operating hours of major equipment and security lighting. Motion sensors may be needed in Lavatories and similar spaces. In fact, multi-building facilities such as the Ministries of Finance and Education, may need supervisory locations to monitor energy use.

 

In conclusion, our government needs to investigate and select an energy management system based on its associated lifecycle cost, plan a change process for the civil service, and allocate the requisite resources to achieve their stated goal of energy conservation.  Whether all this can be done within the financial year to allow time for achieving the goal is another matter. But, they cannot give the ministries and departments baskets to carry water and expect better results than before. The initiative will again fail if they fail to empower the ministries and departments.

 

I am, etc.

Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects

 

Caribbean Capital Projects Management

 

P. O. Box 3367

Kingston 8

Jamaica, W.I.

 

tel: 1 (876) 756-0631

cel: 1 (876) 324-4274

fax: 1 (876) 756-0631

 

web: www.phcjam.com

e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com

skype name: phcjam

profile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjam

twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam


Posted by phcjam at 9:07 PM EDT
Friday, 26 November 2010
Singapore: example to Jamaica in doing Business
Topic: Government Policies

THE EDITOR, Sir:

 

I read with interest your article in the Financial Gleaner, of 5 November 2010, entitled “ Ja slides to 81st in Doing Business rankings”.  It is clear, from the World Bank’s assessment, that regulatory reforms were instituted in the majority of economies to improve ease of doing business and “New Technology underpins regulatory best practice”.  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.

 

I am, etc.

 

Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects

 

Strategic project planning & implementation

for Caribbean-based businesses

 

phc-logo0903 

 

P. O. Box 3367

Kingston 8

Jamaica, W.I.

 

tel: 1 (876) 756-0631

cel: 1 (876) 324-4274

fax: 1 (876) 756-0631

 

web: www.phcjam.com

e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com

skype name: phcjam

profile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjam

twitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam


Posted by phcjam at 11:49 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2011 7:49 PM EDT
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Pass Building Law Now
Topic: Government Policies

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I noticed a number of references to the National Building Code in the Bureau of Standards Jamaica advertisement in The Gleaner's Wednesday Business section, and wondered what has become of the promised legislation and national building-control framework.

In your Editor's Forum, published on February 7, experts discussed lessons learnt from the Haitian earthquake six months ago, 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." Your editorial of February 10 even noted that "substantial work has 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."

No word of progress

In an article titled 'New Building Codes Coming', on April 4, it was even stated that "Cabinet has issued instruction for the drafting of legislation to establish a national control framework for the island." Three months later, there is still no word of progress made. Late in 2004, I was 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]. So, I can speak to the dedication and effort made by local academics, architects, engineers and lawyers, who volunteered their time to complete that goal. Work was completed in approximately one year and emphasis shifted to training. In the meantime, ICC was consistently revised by IBC on a three-year cycle. So, the code reviewed has been revised twice so far - in 2006 and 2009.

The longer Parliament takes to deal with this matter, the more outdated the work becomes. I would hope that we could see Parliament pass the relevant law before the international code is again revised.

I am, etc.

Paul Hay BA (Arch.),

Dip(Bus. Admin.)

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects


Posted by phcjam at 7:00 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2011 7:52 PM EDT
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Cut public sector yes, but not now
Topic: Government Policies
The Editor, Sir:

With regard to your editorial titled 'Beware of the treadmill, Mr Golding' in The Sunday Gleaner of April 19, I agree that the MOU between the former government and the public-sector unions for wage freezes and salary caps was, as you put it, "mere short-term palliatives". However, I disagree that freezing wages at this time, instead of cutting 22,000 jobs, is a palliative. It is short-term but a prudent move.

The current worldwide recession presents corporations with poor economic prospects and over-extended markets. Particularly in the latter, the corporate strategy of choice is retrenchment with its associated variations of rationalisation, downsizing and redundancies. Government cannot follow suit. Its role, as stated by Dennis Morrison in the article 'A crisis requiring compromise', is "to keep economic activity going as households and businesses are forced to cut back their purchases".

Discretionary income

Effecting wide-scale redundancies at this time would remove discretionary income of those affected from the economy leading to further reduction in the purchasing of consumer goods and services, such as newspapers.

Dennis Morrison also stated that "cutting the public-sector wage bill is no easy task. Teachers, nurses, the security forces and other essential workers make up the vast majority of the establishment" and there are instances of under-staffing in critical areas. So, this would not be a short-term exercise, as your editorial seems to suggest. Although gross wages and salaries of the public-sector account to over 46 per cent of the Budget, their net wages and salaries are less so; and, this is further reduced by GCT, gas cess, property taxes, etc.

I am, however, in agreement with my brother Robert Wynter that the Government needs to cut significantly the 'public-sector employment to deal with the stifling fiscal pressures' it faces. But, not now: when economic prospects are improving and affected persons will not become burdens to the state, their wider families, and exasperate an already bad state of criminality. I close with a quote from the book of Ecclesiastes: To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. The time for cutting the public-sector wage bill is not now.

I am, etc.,

PAUL HAY

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects


Posted by phcjam at 7:49 PM EDT
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Handling the Effect of Global Recession
Topic: Government Policies
The Editor, Sir:

I would first like to take this opportunity to thank your guest writer, Damien King, for his commentary, "Stop Panicking!", in Friday's Financial Gleaner. He did, in fact, bring 'economic sense' to the devaluation of our currency to date. If we accept his argument that inflation is responsible for this devaluation and control of inflation the solution to further devaluations, then it is understandable that our government has not reduced interest rates, as some have proposed, because this would increase inflation and lead to further devaluations.

But, what can be expected over the next two years, during which the Planning Institute of Jamaica tells us the nation will be recovering from the effects of the global recession? Certainly, cost-push inflation will decrease, as seen in the reduced price of petroleum; and, demand-pull inflation will reduce, as we are already hearing of increased unemployment. So, it would seem that inflation will decrease, even without government intervention. However, government needs to ensure its policies neither negate or aggravate this situation. How then are we hearing calls for increasing the minimum wage and laying off thousands of civil servants?

I do not deny that there are valid reasons for these proposals, but they are not appropriate for times as these. I would, therefore, like to encourage our professionals and the business community in general, to continue to contribute solutions to our nation's problems, but to do so in the context of our current reality and likely future.

I am, etc.,

PAUL A. HAY

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects

Kingston 10

 


Posted by phcjam at 6:56 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2011 7:53 PM EDT
Thursday, 30 August 2007
Hurricanes and Roof Design
Topic: Natural Disasters
Dear Editor,Your article entitled ”’Dean’  sparks concern over building code rules, enforcement” published in Business Observer on Wednesday 29 August 2007 is generally consistent with two relatively recent US reports on hurricane damage.  This suggests that the problems discussed are not local in nature.In March 2006, the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues, Inc. [RICOWI, Inc.] published a report entitled “Hurricanes Charley and Ivan Wind Investigation Report” which stated that “generally roofing installed according to the latest codes resisted damage from the winds”.  It also noted that roof edging needed to be securely attached and potential damage from wind-borne debris needed to be addressed.In June 2006, the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] published a report entitled “Performance of Physical Structures in Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita: A Reconnaissance Report” which made 23 recommendations for “stricter adherence to existing building standards, model building codes and good building practices, and a greater recognition of the risks posed by storm surge”.  Three of the more notable recommendations are: (a) to develop risk-based surge maps to guide in the design of coastal structures, (b) to provide guidance in the use of asphalt shingles, metal sheeting, and membrane roofing, and (c) to consider licensing and continuing education of roofing contractors.One difference is that there is no recommendation to abandon all roofing for concrete slabs.  In fact, membranes used to waterproof concrete roofs are also subject to damage and aggregate sometimes used to protect these membranes can also be the air-borne debris that damages neighboring buildings.  Also, undergraduate studies at the Caribbean School of Architecture indicate that typical concrete roofs transmit more heat than a similar timber roofs, with three-times the peak heat-flow: which enters buildings in the late afternoon, making it undesirable for residential construction.  So, persons considering installation of concrete slabs, for hurricane protection, should also expect increased use of fans or air-conditioning, resulting in higher monthly ‘light’ bills. Paul HayManaging PartnerPAUL HAY Consultants Strategic Facility Planning and Design Office Automation 16 Edinburgh AvenueKingston 10Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 923-8882cel: 1 (876) 324-4274fax: 1 (876) 925-3373 web: www.phcjam.come-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com

Posted by phcjam at 12:01 AM EDT

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