UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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Rico is closing 179 public schools in a move expected to save more than $7
million amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus to the U.S.
mainland in the past decade, officials said Friday.
than 27,000 students will be moved elsewhere when their schools close at
the end of May, said newly appointed Education Secretary Julia Keleher.
have a fiscal crisis and few resources and we've spent 10 years handing
out nearly $3 billion in a system that hardly has any books," she
said. "We cannot keep doing what we're doing because we don't have
news about the school closures raised concerns it could speed up the
ongoing exodus from Puerto Rico. Nearly 450,000 people over the last
decade have already left for Florida and other parts of the U.S. mainland
to flee the worsening economic crisis.
It is expected in part lead to millions of dollars in savings a year
for an education department that represent nearly 30 percent of Puerto
Rico's $9 billion budget. Officials shuttered 150 schools over the span of
five years from 2010 to 2015.
Puerto Rico currently has a total of 1,292 public schools that serve
365,000 students. The island has seen its school enrollment drop 42
percent in the past three decades, and an additional 22 percent drop is
expected in upcoming years, according to a report that the Boston
Consulting Group submitted to the previous administration to help
restructure Puerto Rico's education system.
Much of the drop was the result of parents moving to the mainland U.S.
in search of jobs and a more affordable life, as well as thousands of
teachers being recruited from the island for their bilingual skills. The
island's low birth rate also is expected to keep driving down enrollment.
Overall, Puerto Rico has $73 billion in public debt accumulated in part
by previous administrations borrowing money to cover budget deficits. By
comparison, the U.S. city of Detroit had less than $20 billion in debts
when it filed for bankruptcy in 2013, which was the biggest U.S. municipal
wins Bahamas general elections
opposition Free National Movement (FNM) led by Dr. Hubert Minnis are the
unofficial winners of the 2017 Bahamas election.
The FNM crushed the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Prime Minister Perry Christie in an election that saw the Bahamas following the trend that’s occurred at polls in the English-speaking Caribbean recently where voters have ousted the incumbents in Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Guyana, Montserrat and nearby Turks and Caicos. The FNM won 34 seats Tribune reports indicated, including the seat of Christie, compared to 5 for the PLP despite issues with ballots during the election Wednesday that caused voting to be temporarily suspended and hours extended at some polling stations. The other parties won no seats.
congressman seeks to tax remitances to the Caribbean
under Trump’s anti-immigrant influence, Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers
on April 21st, introduced a bill in the US Congress that would
impose a 2 percent fee on all remittances headed to Latin America
and the Caribbean. HR 1813, or the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017, is
geared to jumpstart the funding of the much touted Donald Trump Border
Wall. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
Homeland Security, and Investigations even as money transfer companies
worry about the implications.
or money transfers to the Caribbean and Latin America continued to see the
most rapid growth rate according to latest figures from 2015 data analyzed
by the World Bank. Officially-recorded remittance flows to the Latin
America and the Caribbean region increased by 4.8 percent to $66.6 billion
from Caribbean govts. sinking UWI
governments owe the University of the West Indies (UWI) more than US$100
million and, as a result, the regional tertiary institution says it is
“very concerned” about the situation.
condemns Jamaica’s GSAT
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has made a formal recommendation to
Government to abandon the much-criticised Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT),
which it said is failing to adequately prepare students to function in a
technologically driven world. Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT)
is Jamaica 's national high school entrance examination. It is usually
taken in March.
with the results are usually released in June. The GSAT replaced the UK 's
Common Entrance Examination i
Country Representative Therese Turner-Jones said what is being taught
about the work world in Jamaica is not where it is headed. She said
Jamaica and the Caribbean are behind in an era where artificial
intelligence, and manufacturing, which does not involve human beings and
agriculture that can be done in buildings, are taking place.
a huge gap in our knowledge, so it has to start really early. Get rid of
GSAT. Teach science, language skills and math,” she urged, while
recommending that Government adapt the Programme for International Student
is an IDB programme which evaluates, every three years, what 15-year-old
students know and can do in science, reading, and mathematics.
that exam and test our kids at age 15, not at 11 when most kids are barely
out of [diapers]. Test them at that point so that they can basically do an
international comparison across the rest of the world. It's not okay to
say we are better than Trinidad and Tobago. So what? We want to be better
than Finland which gets the best results in STEM (science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics). So that's where we want to be and that's
where we have to take the mindset in education,” Turner-Jones said.
added, too, that teaching methods and how teachers are trained will also
have to evolve, noting that students are being taught in a “very archaic
shouldn't be teaching kids multiple timetables. We have calculators to do
that; we have algorithms to solve problems. There are other things we
ought to be doing to make sure that the brains of our kids are developed
to the maximum potential.”
of the National College for Educational Leadership Rosemary
Campbell-Stephens agreed, saying that GSAT has outlived its usefulness.
bond rating downgraded by Moody’s
Trinidad and Tobago has
been slapped with consecutive downgrades by Moody’s Investors Service.
It revised its previous Baa3
rating to Ba1, a rating deemed by investors as “junk” status. The
New-York based rating agency has however revised the country’s outlook
from negative to stable.
The downgrade was driven by three main factors, including ineffective
economic policies; increased borrowing, which has resulted in sustainable
debt levels; and a significant decline in oil production.
According to Moody’s, with the fall in oil and gas prices,
energy-related government revenues fell to only one per cent of GDP in the
2016 fiscal year, from eight of GDP in the previous fiscal year. Noting
that current revenues declined 28% over 2015-16, the agency highlighted
some of the economic measures introduced by the Keith Rowley
administration, but stressed that they were insufficient to ease the
economy’s dependence on the energy sector.
“In response to the fall in revenues, the government reduced gasoline
subsidies and current transfers. Still, these measures have not changed a
rigid expenditure structure, in which wages, subsidies and transfers
account for 70% of total government spending. Furthermore, total
expenditures will continue to increase this year amid higher debt
servicing costs and larger capital expenditures. The rating agency also
raised concern about Trinidad and Tobago’s declining oil production and
limited investment prospects, saying that it had caused deterioration in
the country’s medium-term growth prospects.
Noting that oil production levels had declined even before a recent
drop in energy prices, the rating agency projected minimal growth,
stressing that urgent investment was needed to revive the critical sector.
flood damage estimated at nearly J$ half-billion
to the island's road network and other infrastructure from recent heavy
rains has been put at close to half-a-billion dollars, according to a
preliminary report presented by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie
in the House of Representatives, yesterday.According
to McKenzie, the National Works Agency assessed damage to the main road
network across 10 parishes at J$352 million, with Clarendon, St Catherine
and St Elizabeth having the most damage.
said technical teams from his ministry and local authorities have also
determined that an additional $139.8 million will be needed to fix other
infrastructural damage in St Thomas, Clarendon, and St Elizabeth.
again poor drainage was blamed on the flooding from the heavy rains which
forced 49 people to abandon their homes and seek shelter with friends and
relatives. However, McKenzie said the flooding was not necessarily a
result of blocked drains.
says Jamaica bauxite under-taxed
estimated US$18 million ($ 2.3
billion) in revenues annually has been lost with the government's decision
to put in place new taxation arrangements for bauxite, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates. In its First Review under the
Standby Arrangement for Jamaica, the IMF says the decision to abandon the
levy for profit-sharing arrangements is regressive.
recent decision to provide discretionary waivers by further widening
leftover exemptions on the bauxite levy created a revenue loss of over 0.1
per cent of GDP per year, leaving the bauxite sector undertaxed, and
potentially undermining the hard-earned gains from the elimination of a
range of tax incentives in 2014,” the Fund states in its review.
noted that local authorities explained that the recent changes are part of
a tax regime overhaul for extractive industries where the sector will
shift towards profit taxation in the medium term.
IMF stressed that Jamaica should continue “striving for a broad-based
tax system with transparent and equal rules, while avoiding discretionary
waivers for particular sectors or industries”.
in 1974, the levy was set at seven per cent of the selling price of
aluminum ingot, instead of the previous method of computing the tax based
on profit negotiated between the government and the bauxite companies.
a result, the tax rate increased 480 per cent between 1973 and 1975, from
$2.50 to $14.51 per ton. Consequently, taxes on the sector increased to 37
per cent of government revenue.
superhighway racks up unpayable debt
IT could take at least another 20 years before developers of the
north-south link of Highway 2000 starts making a profit as they are
spending an estimated US$30 million annually on debt servicing, almost
twice its revenues of US$18 million, a House committee was told
yesterday.Managing director of the National Road Operating and
Constructing Company (NROCC) Ivan Anderson outlined the losses the
developer, Jamaica North South Highway Company (JNSHC), was making at
yesterday's meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations
Committee (PAAC) at Gordon House.
“The debt service alone is significantly more than the revenues being
generated, and that's why the project sought to provide some additional
land development incentive for the developer. We don't estimate that in
the next 20 years the developer will make any profit at all. If you take
the US$18 million and US$30 million of debt servicing, and US$15 million
operating cost, you're in a no-win situation for a very long time,”
Anderson stated. China Harbour Engineering (CHEC), JNSHC's parent company,
constructed the highway — which significantly cut the travel time to the
north coast — at a cost of US$730 million.
At the same time, Anderson revealed that NROCC has racked up US$439
million in debt since the start of Highway 2000 project in October 2003.
He said that since 2010 the Government has been paying US$40 million per
annum from the Consolidated Fund to reduce that liability.
the meantime, construction is to start by the end of this fiscal year on
the remaining 28 kilometres linking May Pen, Clarendon, to Williamsfield,
Manchester, for the east-west section of the highway. That project is
being financed by a US$188-million loan from the China Exim Bank. Public
consultations on this segment are to begin next week, Anderson informed
the House committee.
JackWarner countersues CONCACAF for US$40m
former football supremo, Jack Warner, has launched a US$40 million
countersuit against continental governing body, CONCACAF, and FIFA Council
member Sunil Gulati, for “persistent defamation of character.”In
response to a US$20 million lawsuit filed against him last week by
CONCACAF in a US Federal Court, the 74-year-old said he had no choice but
to instruct his lawyers to initiate legal proceedings.
argued in a statement that the most recent corruption allegations made
against him were “repetitive and ancient”, and said he would fight to
protect his name and that of his family “to the very end.”
have been slaughtered for the past six years and have remained silent,
ignoring my legal options to respond to the atrocities that have been
perpetrated against me by men of the lower ilk,” Warner said. “And so
the time has come for me to respond and hence the lawsuit against CONCACAF
and Gulati in his personal capacity.”
last week, CONCACAF moved to recover millions of dollars the organization
claimed had been obtained by Warner and former general secretary, American
Chuck Blazer through corruption.
lawsuit comes against the backdrop of ongoing efforts by the United States
Department of Justice to have Warner extradited from his native Trinidad
and Tobago to also face charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money
Warner said the most recent lawsuit was simply more trumped up charges
stemming from old grouses, and was nothing but a means of distracting from
the under-achievements of the organisation in recent times.
led CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union for 21 years and became also
became a powerful FIFA vice-president before resigning both posts amidst
the torrid cash-for-votes scandal in 2011.