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Sunday Brew – April 28,2019

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The Jamaica dollar must be protected

 

No serious economy can grow with an exchange rate that behaves like a table tennis ball — pinging and ponging all over the place.

The Jamaica economy is one that is going through a ping-pong game. Up to late last week, the Jamaica dollar was trading in the region of J$135 to US$1. A few weeks ago, the rate was down to $126 to US$1.

Normally, when there are such upward movements, the Bank of Jamaica intervenes by selling US dollars in the market, but I have noticed that in recent days the intervention by the Central Bank has been far lower than normal. Why is that so?

I often hear that the Jamaica dollar is under-valued … utterances from some of those who call themselves top notch economists … the same ones who don’t seem to have anything called common sense. How could the Jamaica dollar be under-valued?

Our technocrats know well enough that any time the Jamaica dollar devalues against the US dollar in particular, every area of the society is affected. The cost of living goes up, the national debt rises … everything goes sky high, sometimes even when they are not related to the dollar movements.

There is one word to describe why the Jamaica dollar devalues so frequently against its US counterpart: Greed. It’s that greed on the part of the Jamaican merchants who, in their quest to satisfy their own thirst to cement their capitalist position, will put the lives of others at great risk in a bid to gobble up the holy greenback.

When that happens it brings along weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth by the poorer class, who never ever benefit when the dollar rarely goes down.

Barbados has, for decades, managed to keep its currency at B$2 to US$1; the Eastern Caribbean dollar has remained firm in the region of EC$2.70 to US$1. Trinidad & Tobago had things at TT$6 to US$1 the last time I was there. So what the hell is wrong in Jamaica?

Eddie Seaga was criticised for allegedly manipulating the dollar between 1980 and 1989. As Prime Minister and Finance Minister he kept it in the region of J$5 to US$1 for several years. Now look at where we are. It’s a shame.

Come on Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, we need to get the value of the Jamaica dollar up. If this crawling peg devaluation continues, it will only begin to gnaw away at many of the gains that the economy has made in the last decade. The Jamaica dollar is an embarrassment at $135 to US$1. It should not even have passed the J$100 to US$1 mark.

Let us save our country and our people from this dollar meal that is obviously dangerous to our collective health.

 

Broadcasters, commentators and their use of certain words

 

I am not presenting myself as an English guru. Far from it! But I continue to be turned off by some in the media, the electronic division in particular, who continue to use words way out of context and outside of their meaning.

I always like when I am corrected by those in the know and I hope that the radio and television people in particular will put aside their egos and come to the realisation that some things just don’t fit into the scheme of things.

Reference is often made, for example, to footballers who were born or live in England who have an interest in representing Jamaica, or are doing that now, as ‘English-based’ individuals. There is no such thing as an English-based player. The player is based in England or somewhere in the United Kingdom, so he is an England-based or United Kingdom-based player.

It is also quite okay for such a player to be called an ‘English-born’ player, because of the fact that he was born an Englishman (or baby), but no way can he be English-based.

The other word used far too often is ‘stanza’, which commentators and broadcasters inject in their verbal presentations to describe the first half or second half of a match — usually in football. ‘John Brown scored a goal in the second stanza to give his team victory over the home team’. Wrong again. The word stanza relates to poetry. The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes the word as ‘a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem’.

I don’t know, therefore, how that could be confused with a first or second half of a football match, or better yet, a quarter in a netball match, in which I have also heard the reference.

Let’s see if this Jamaica-based scribe can join the action in the first or second half.

 

A decent West Indies World Cup squad

 

 

The 15-man West Indies cricket squad to the 50-over World Cup in England and Wales announced last Wednesday represents, by and large, a decent offering by the Caribbean team’s selectors.

The names of spinner Sunil Narine and batsman Marlon Samuels were not included, due to injury I’m told, and apparently Kieron Pollard, the big-hitting Trinidadian, and his countryman Dwayne Bravo were not considered.

But there is real talent and ability in the squad, with fast bowlers Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell and captain Jason Holder representing, potentially, the best quick attack in the international mix.

All-rounder Andre Russell will be looked at for his big-hitting, rather than his fast-bowling capability, but he too can be penetrative with the ball even if half fit.

Power-hitters Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis at the top of the batting order could destabilise opposing attacks should they get off, while batsmen Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran can stand in any company. It would have been better to have had another specialist batsman, where Samuels would come in, but there can’t always be ideal situations.

Fabian Allen, the Jamaican all-rounder, must use the opportunity to convince all and sundry that it was not because of Narine’s absence that he made the cut; while the luck streak of Barbadians Carlos Brathwaite and Ashley Nurse continues.

There is hope though.

 

Farewell to a big brother

 

Saturday, April 20 marked the final time I would see my big brother Donovan, whom we all referred to as ‘Danny’. He had departed the land of the living on March 14 at age 60, following a heart attack — a form of death which has become so common among Jamaican men.

His funeral service in St Mary brought out some fine people whose lives he touched in a meaningful way and who provided emotional support for the bereaved family that was unbelievable.

Danny was a full of life individual. A quintessential comedian too, he was always one who wanted the best for people, many of whom he did not know personally.

His kindness, spiritual maturity, love for real Jamaican music and culinary delights will always be remembered. He had a special place in his heart for the family structure and always wanted to ensure that every member was adequately cared for and looked after.

The loss opened my eyes to some of the new attachments involved in the whole funeral exercise, top among them being the preparation of the vault… grave digging as it is more commonly termed.

I’m too far behind, perhaps, in believing that what obtained during the 1970s and 1980s were still in vogue. Now, new ways of doing things are in place. How naïve could I have been!

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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