Sun. Sea, Great Food. Great Music And Culture, If Only We Appreciated The Value Of Our Country …

Over the years and strad­dling sev­er­al Administrations of both polit­i­cal par­ties ‚sev­er­al Hotels and road­ways have been built in Jamaica with much fan­fare and hoopla about the amount of jobs expect­ed to be gen­er­at­ed for Jamaicans.
In the end what we have gleaned is that hard­ly any top man­age­ment jobs actu­al go to Jamaicans. What has been report­ed is that by and large only low lev­el man­u­al labor posi­tions and a few mid lev­el spots here and there have gone to Jamaicans when those projects are initiated.
In addi­tion to that we hear many sto­ries of indif­fer­ence, dis­re­spect­ful treat­ment, and poor salaries met­ed out to our nationals.
Now I do under­stand quite well that some of our peo­ple are not exact­ly the eas­i­est to get along with but that’s a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion for a dif­fer­ent time.

Chinese ambas­sador to Jamaica Dong Xiaojun shows Portia Simpson Miller work being done on the north south high­way , in Jamaica.… Adapted..

The gist of the argu­ments sur­round­ing this issue of Jamaicans being shut out of the upper lev­el jobs from these deals is that our Government sim­ply do not demand those jobs as part of the nego­ti­a­tions when these deals are being negotiated.
Seemingly just get­ting a hotel prop­er­ty built on the Island is seen as a vic­to­ry by the Governments of both polit­i­cal parties.
In the end those vic­to­ries turn out to be large­ly Pyrrhic vic­to­ries because of the lack of jobs for Jamaicans and the fact that for the most part the pro­ceeds from these hotel prop­er­ties does not remain in Jamaica.

Case in point, when we bor­row mon­ey from the Chinese ‚we see lots of Chinese Nationals in super­vi­so­ry posi­tions doing much of the tech­ni­cal work, while Jamaicans are hired to do man­u­al low pay­ing jobs on these sites. The same is true of the Spanish prop­er­ties built on the west­ern end of the Island. Spanish man­age­ment and work­ers ‚alleged bad treat­ment of our peo­ple on the low­er end of the ladder.
There is a sim­ple expla­na­tion for this.
The Chinese main­tain that they have 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple, if you want to bor­row their mon­ey their work­ers go where their mon­ey goes.

PM Miller speaks to work­ers on a site. Adapted.

Conversely, our lead­ers fail to under­stand the val­ue of our coun­try as a des­ti­na­tion, sun, sea, clean air, beau­ti­ful beach­es, good food and music all of this is brand Jamaica . That’s what we have to cre­ate our wealth.
At the same time our peo­ple must show more civic pride in the coun­try we claim to love so much.
How about we stop say­ing with our mouths how patri­ot­ic we are and show some respect for the environment?
How about when we drink from those plas­tic bot­tles we do not throw them in gul­lies and drains?
How about we stop defe­cat­ing in the gul­lies, and while we are at it, lets stop defac­ing pub­lic build­ings and monuments ?

Plastic bot­tles choke this Kingston gul­ly lead­ing from the city to the sea.

When investors come to do busi­ness in our Country we should demand the best deal for our peo­ple. They will acqui­esce as long as our demands are not outlandish.
They expect us to.
Over the decades our lead­ers have sold us short because of a lack of basic under­stand­ing of what our brand is and how it is sup­posed to empow­er our peo­ple. So they nego­ti­ate deals from posi­tions of weakness.
Here just build we are just hap­py to have you”.
No !!!!
Investors com­ing into our coun­try have already done their home­work .They already have the mar­ket sur­veys which lays out for them dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios giv­en worst and best cas­es mar­ket conditions.
Having done the risk assess­ment they still decide to come.
That speaks to the qual­i­ty of our coun­try as an invest­ment option, as such our lead­ers must do bet­ter to extract bet­ter con­ces­sions from poten­tial investors, so that we don’t end up with a well fur­nished coun­try while our peo­ple can only look on from the outside.
In fact that has been the con­tention of many Jamaicans for years.
We must change that.

Sandals, ATL Automotive and over­seas part­ners break ground for hotel, BMW facil­i­ty in Kingston.

But there is anoth­er com­po­nent to this issue .
Over the years more and more Tourists have come to Jamaica, yet the aver­age per­son has ben­e­fit­ed less and less from tourism, com­men­su­rate with the num­ber of vis­i­tor arrival.
Jamaica should be extract­ing as much as pos­si­ble from each and every vis­i­tor who grace our shores.The reverse seem to be true.

Several years ago I invest­ed in a Barber shop , I did a sim­ple sur­vey of the amount of peo­ple who were com­ing through the doors each week , from those num­bers I extrap­o­lat­ed on aver­age, how much each indi­vid­ual was spending.
I had much space, as I had gone into an under-served area and was able to get rental dirt cheap on a 10 year lease.
My invest­ment was­n’t hap­pen­stance , I had spo­ken to law enforce­ment, busi­ness peo­ple and oth­er stake hold­ers with a view to get­ting a feel for whether the area was on the down-swing or whether it was on the upswing?
I hired a staff at sev­en at the offset.

I found out from speak­ing to those stake hold­ers that the area had bot­tomed out and that there were moves afoot to begin a revi­tal­iza­tion effort with seri­ous law enforce­ment as the tip of the spear.
Nevertheless land­lords were quite hap­py to have ten­ants for how­ev­er lit­tle they could get for com­mer­cial space at the time.
Having a desire to extract max­i­mum returns on my invest­ment for the life of my 10 year lease , I brain­stormed on what else I could add to the space which men would be drawn to, since they were already com­ing for haircuts?

This busi­ness spun off anoth­er busi­ness I invest­ed in. Small busi­ness­es like larg­er invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties require think­ing how to max­i­mize returns on investments

Then it hit me , men are large­ly into toys. we are also more impul­sive buy­ers than our female counterparts.
The answer was easy .
Electronics !!!
My small Electronics busi­ness was born.
I was able to max­i­mize on the amount of mon­ey I could extract from each per­son walk­ing into my busi­ness place , using the same amount of space.
A great way to start a new busi­ness with­out much of the risks out­side those parameters.

So get­ting back to max­i­miz­ing our efforts from what we already have in exis­tence we have to make our prod­uct more attractive.
I am sure I will be accused of not under­stand­ing just how attrac­tive Jamaica is as a destination.
Some will cite reports indi­cat­ing that Jamaica is among the top coun­tries in which to invest.
That mind­set takes us back to my ini­tial obser­va­tion that we do not extract enough con­ces­sions for our peo­ple so of course Investors are excit­ed about com­ing to Jamaica to invest.
Imagine if we tru­ly under­stood the val­ue of Jamaica and took steps to keep it pristine?


Added to the fact that we do not demand ful­ly what we should for our work­ers, we have unwit­ting­ly reduced the lever­age we have to bar­gain, because of the high crime numbers.
This is an issue I speak of like a bro­ken record.
Over the years because of the bur­geon­ing crime prob­lem nations have issued trav­el advi­so­ry to their nation­als who want to trav­el to Jamaica.
For too long we have scoffed at this fact, argu­ing that this hap­pens to oth­er coun­tries and we need look no fur­ther than the increas­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors grac­ing our shores each year.
You know the spiel ” crime de ebri weh.”

Craft items dis­played for sale in Kingston

I humbly sub­mit that for the most part that’s all many of the tourists are doing, they are mere­ly grac­ing our shores.
When they do decide to stay they are shep­herd­ed into all inclu­sive resorts, fun­nel­ing what­ev­er monies they do spend into few­er and few­er hands.
Just ask the craft ven­dors or the peo­ple who have the quaint lit­tle restau­rants across the Island just how much they are mak­ing from the tourist arrivals.
Even our own nation­als return­ing to our coun­try are turn­ing more and more to all inclu­sive resorts for the dura­tion of their stay out of con­cern for their safety.
Those are unde­ni­able facts.

inside a Kingston craft market

People are afraid to tell their rel­a­tives when they are vis­it­ing, even when they do trust their rel­a­tives , they are afraid their rel­a­tives will unwit­ting­ly tell oth­ers they are vis­it­ing the Island plac­ing them in danger.
When they return home they now devise a series of mea­sures to pro­tect themselves.
Not telling their rel­a­tives when they are com­ing to vis­it. Not telling where they are stay­ing. Not telling when they are leav­ing . Not hang­ing out.
Dressing down as much as pos­si­ble . Wearing shorts and exer­cise wear to show they have no mon­ey on their per­sons. Not wear­ing jew­el­ry. Not flash­ing cash.Not rent­ing cars. Hiding their expen­sive cell phones.

The long held belief that as long as you stay away from cer­tain areas you are safe no longer hold true.
As Jamaicans we all know what those cer­tain areas were. Rema .Tivoli. Jungle. Sufferers Heights. Back-Bush. Flankers. Rivoli. Red Square. Thawes Pen. The list goes on and on.
As Police offi­cers we fought to con­tain crime as best we could . Cutting off the ten­ta­cles, but we knew that giv­en time with the type of poli­cies our lead­ers sub­scribed to and the size of our coun­try , it was just a mat­ter of time until we ran out of places where peo­ple could feel safe.
That time is here, one does­n’t have to stay away from the gar­ri­son the gar­ri­son has come to the every-man.
The ten­ta­cles of crime was des­tined to catch up with all of the coun­try and giv­en enough time will even­tu­al­ly suf­fo­cate the lifeblood from it.
Law enforce­ment con­tin­ued to be reac­tive , a wack a mole type thing, orches­trat­ed by the Island’s polit­i­cal lead­ers cre­at­ing the present sit­u­a­tion which obtains today

Imagine if the Island’s lead­er­ship ful­ly under­stood how impor­tant it is to stamp out crime, or cared to, as against pay­ing lip ser­vice to crime with the hope of hold­ing on to polit­i­cal power?