Our PM made Jamaica proud

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, October 08, 2018

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Jamaica should be proud that our prime minister, Andrew Holness, represented us with distinction at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly last month. He spoke like a leader well aware of our challenges, but positive in his outlook.

He declared, “Consistent with the priorities of Jamaica's Vision 2030 and the global sustainable development goals, my Government is implementing strategies to achieve economic growth, job creation, security and poverty alleviation. These are our overriding objectives for the next four years… We are also resolute in our commitment that economic activity must be undertaken in a manner that not only protects and preserves our natural environment, but that develops our most important asset, the people of Jamaica.”

The prime minister pointed out the dilemma of countries like Jamaica which “are poised for economic transition with relatively high levels of health and education attainment”, yet have deep debts. He dubbed the group “HIMIC” (highly indebted middle-income countries). He noted that as we pay down our debts, the resources demanded to drive growth become scarce, and our classification based on our gross domestic product (GDP) prevents us from accessing the funding required to drive our growth.

“The problem, Madam President,” said Holness, “is that while GDP per capita gives an indication of average incomes, it says nothing about the 'stock of wealth' a country possesses, nor does it take into account the vulnerabilities a country faces.”

He made a persuasive case; pointing out that with the right support not only for ourselves, but also for other countries deemed HIMIC, we could become meaningful contributors to international development. We appreciate that he ended his address with a line from our national pledge: “Let us join together in the spirit of the national pledge of Jamaica to… 'advance the welfare of the whole human race'.”

Shortly after this presentation it was announced that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had asked Holness and President of France Emmanuel Macron to co-chair a UN initiative for climate financing in support of the Paris agreement to combat the threat of global warming. What an honour!

Whether People's National Party or Jamaica Labour Party, let us celebrate our strong democracy which makes Holness prime minister of us all, and be proud when our leaders earn respect for Jamaica on the world stage.

With the positive Bloomberg review of Jamaica's stock market, and stronger financial ratings, let us hope that we will be able to access the support of which our prime minister spoke. Then we will feel as good as we look.

Anti-money laundering efforts

Queen's Counsel Caroline Hay gave an eye-opening presentation at the Jamaica Bankers Association 7th annual anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism meeting last Tuesday on the topic 'Flexibility or Compromise — How to Balance Organization and Regulatory Expectations'. Members of the association are subject to strict international rules and regulations for anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism.

Jamaica's banks have invested heavily in monitoring procedures, thus protecting their customers from the crippling sanctions that could result from undetected attempts at money-laundering or financing of terrorism.

Hay shared an excerpt from an American Bar Association newsletter: “The fiduciary duties of corporate directors have been understood to embrace the adoption and maintenance of corporate compliance programmes that are designed to detect corporate wrongdoing and bring it to the attention of management and the board of directors.” This is a sobering reminder to all who have been entrusted with board directorships, whether in banking or otherwise.

Students demand safe streets

Students from seven high schools in the Central Kingston area lobbied on their right to safe passage on our roads at a recent meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The meeting brought reassurance that there will be measures to ensure safe commuting. Coleridge Minto, the ministry's director of safety and security, advised students to take authorised transportation, while Deputy Superintendent of Police Ivel Calder reminded them that they should not expose their mobile phones on the road. Each school will have a safety committee with student representation and Calder has promised covert police protection in the surrounding areas.

“Our student leaders have countered a culture of silence and apathy with an authentic and courageous stance for peace,” observed Kali McMorris, principal of Convent of Mercy “Alpha” Academy. “They will take back our streets and be the hope for this generation of Jamaicans.”

Monsignor Ramkissoon is CVSS hall of famer

Founder of Mustard Seed Communities Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon was inducted in the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) Hall of Fame last Thursday. The former The University of the West Indies lecturer established Mustard Seed 40 years ago and now has missions in Central America and Africa. Kudos to Monsignor Gregory and the other worthy award recipients: Jamaica Cancer Society, Sagicor Group Jamaica, Young Women and Men of Purpose, Marilyn Lilith Williams, Keenan Joseph Falconer, and Sergeant Nickoyon Brown.

Guest speaker at the event Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters lauded the generosity of the awardees, noting, “Volunteerism offers a means for persons to show their value and self-worth.”

The selection committee chairman is the distinguished Lady Hall. Untiring volunteer and philanthropist Gary “Butch” Hendrickson is the organisation's president, while chairman and vice-chair are the dynamic Saffrey Brown and Kim Mair.

StGC hall of famers

The citations for the recent set of inductees to the St George's College Hall of Fame spoke of the excellence and spirit of service shown by the four honorees. They are Professor Robert Hill, world renowned scholar on Marcus Garvey; Clovis Metcalfe, retired banker and chairman of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission; Howard Mitchell, attorney-at-law and president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica; and Phillip Wong, entrepreneur and philanthropist. In recalling their years at the Jesuit high school, they expressed heartfelt appreciation for the Ignatian values they were led to embrace. Congratulations to these exemplary gentlemen – Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the greater glory of God.

US Embassy SARA Awards

The US Embassy in Jamaica recently held its first Stakeholder Appreciation and Recognition Awards (SARA) ceremony recognising partners from academia, civil society, media, and others. Congratulations to the recipients, lauded by Eric Khant, US charge d'affaires, and Jeremiah Knight, US counsellor for public affairs. They include esteemed colleagues Dr Marcia Forbes, Yaneek Page, Archibald Gordon, Milton Walker, Stephen Newland, and Tishann Wade Lee. Heartiest congratulations!

Gandhi 150th celebrations

Indian High Commissioner M Sevala Naik has been leading a series of celebrations to mark the 150th birthday of the great Mahatma Gandhi, whose campaign of peaceful resistance led to India's Independence and influenced other great world leaders including Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. On Friday, the high commission will hold a forum on Gandhi as they promote his messages — so well needed in our tumultuous world.

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