Electricity biggest Jamaica negative to production

(Jamaica Observer)  Business leaders, in spite of problems faced by crime and Government bureaucracy, on Monday knocked the delivery and cost of energy as having the greatest negative impact on production in Jamaica.

“Electricity is the single most severe hindrance to manufacturing in this country,” said William Mahfood, principal of Wisynco — manufacturers of a range of drinks, including Wata, and distributors of the Coca Cola brand.

He added that the problem was not only in the high cost of energy, but also in the delivery of service.

Mahfood said that his company lost 80 hours of production last year due to power outages, forcing him to invest U$1 million in the purchase of a standby unit.

“This is ridiculous, for a manufacturer to take money that could be used to increase its capacity to put in a standby unit for lost time,” Mahfood said.

Mahfood and other members of the business and financial community were guests at the Observer’s weekly Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters in Kingston.

Crime, energy cost, high interest rates and bureaucracy continue to hamper production as local businesses struggle to stay afloat, in spite of signals of a recovery in the economy, the business leaders said.

At the same time, high interest rates charged by commercial banks continue to worry the entrepreneurs, despite the successful Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) initiative some months ago.

While welcoming the JDX and its effects in reducing rates, the business leaders argued that some commercial banks were slow in responding and single-digit rates were needed to make the country globally competitive.

Financial analyst Karen Fitz-Ritson cited Guyana, where she said the lending rate to businesses was 6.7 per cent, while Barbados and Trinidad had rates of seven per cent.

Chris Williams, principal of Proven, a new investment house, argued that Government had to “get its books in order” and allow the private sector to operate.

“The primary area of contention was the interest cost and that was addressed to a large extent through the JDX,” Williams said. “Secondly, the need to perfect the ability of the country to operate was addressed through the IMF, providing us with balance of payment support,” he added.

Williams contended that these two areas had laid a framework for improved performance of the business sector.

In the meantime, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) Omar Azan said that bureaucracy was still stifling businesses, especially where it pertained to the issuing of waivers for the importation of raw material and equipment.

Azan said that equipment recently imported by at least two manufacturers have sat on the wharf for almost six weeks awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Finance.


Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico, heads for Turks and Caicos

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico,  (Reuters) – Hurricane Maria destroyed buildings and knocked out power across Puerto Rico before flooding parts of the Dominican Republic and then regaining some of its strength as it approached the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas last night.

Mexico focuses search for quake survivors on 10 buildings; 273 dead

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Rescuers swarmed over rubble with shovels and picks yesterday in a frantic search for survivors two days after Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in a generation, focusing on 10 collapsed buildings where people may still be alive.

Mexico quake toll tops 230

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Mexican rescuers yesterday laboured for a second night amid the rubble to save possible survivors of the country’s most lethal earthquake in a generation, including a girl trapped under a school in Mexico City, as the death toll exceeded 230.

Indigenous protesters seize oil wells in Peruvian Amazon -chief

LIMA,  (Reuters) – Villagers in the Peruvian Amazon have shut down at least 50 oil wells operated by Frontera Energy Corp to protest talks over a new contract even as past pollution lingers, the leader of an indigenous federation said yesterday.

Granny was suffocated, churchyard death for ‘killer’

(Trinidad Express) Grandmother Haniffa Bedassie operated a mini mart in her Chaguanas community for over two decades without ever being robbed, until yesterday.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now