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Letters
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
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
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, 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
Monday, 28 June 2004
Concerning Energy Policy
Topic: Government Policies

28 June 2004 

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Having just read Dennie Quill's article 'Big Bucks at the Pumps', in the June 25, 2004 edition of The Gleaner, please allow me to comment on the 'comprehensive national policy' for the construction industry.

First, Jamaica has had an Energy Efficiency Building Code since 1995. To quote the foreword to this document: "It is the culmination of a joint effort of the Jamaica Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Public Utilities, Mining and Energy and Jamaican Architects and Engineers to develop the building standards which are appropriate to our own climate as well as to our building designs and construction practices."

ISSUES

This document addresses such issues as walls, roofs, openings, lighting (including daylighting), electric power, etc. Second, our architects and engineers were invited to seminars on its use. Graduates of the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology have been trained in its use since it was published. Personnel within the Parish Councils have also received training. The only thing lacking is the will to implement it.

The code was originally intended for voluntary compliance and I am aware that the Government had intentions of making it compulsory (hence the training of the Parish Council personnel). But the policy at present is a mystery.

I am, etc.,

PAUL HAY

phcadmin@phcjamaica.com

Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Consultants

15a Cassia Park Road

Kingston 10


Posted by phcjam at 7:28 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2011 7:55 PM EDT

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