It took me a while to absorb the contents and ramifications of this article in today’s Sunday Gleaner. I just could not fathom the maintenance cost of J$1 million per day on yet another government WHITE ELEPHANT, the Montego Bay Convention Centre (MBCC), to be paid for by yours truly, the poor Jamaican taxpayer.
We should have seen this coming after the Gleaner’s feature on the the facility’s viability last May. I am not spewing negativity in this article. I am looking at the facts as I know them to be, objectively.
I simply cannot understand the reasoning behind the construction of the MBCC. How did the government and ‘stakeholders’ come to the conclusion that the US$51.7 million (exchange rate J$94.00-95.00= US$1.00) construction price tag was a good way to spend our (hard earned) money, with the hope of earning US$10 million per year? Who came up with this ridiculous ‘earning potential’ figure and just how much is the MBCC really earning? The facility ain’t hosting ‘nutten’.
Located along the “Elegant Corridor” (whatever that is supposed to imply) in Rose Hall, St. James, the MBCC has had to contend (i.e. compete) with well established conference hotels all along the North Coast (Ritz-Carlton, Wyndham, Half Moon, Holiday Inn Sunspree and the Sunset Jamaica Grande, to name a few). Did the government believe that they could compete with these other large private venues, with established reputations? Did the ‘stakeholders’ believe that the convenience of having one’s room and conference at the same location (like the big hotels in the area) would be less attractive than room and board at one location, with travel to the conference at another venue?
Who do we have making decisions like this? How many more ‘white elephants’ will the Government of Jamaica construct and at what cost to us, the poor Jamaican taxpayer? We already have the Port Antonio Marina (Portland), the Greenfield Multi-Purpose Stadium (Trelawny) and the Ian Fleming Airport (St. Mary), costing us more money than we can count and the government has found the time to spend it all and then some!
If this Gleaner article is accurate regarding the J$30 million monthly expenditure to keep the property open, then I have some suggestions:
Step 1. Bulldoze the complex and leave it in rubble. The cost for maintenance of rubble is J$0.00.
Let us then use said J$30 million on projects and services that ONLY the government can provide:
Step 2. Year 1: Upgrade/renovate/expand one (1) courthouse per parish per month for 12 months. At the end of this period, we would have a much improved (hopefully) functioning infrastructure for Justice in the country.
Step 3. Year 2: Upon completing the courthouses, we shall repeat Step 2 for our security infrastructure, with the upgrading/renovation/repair of two (2) police stations per month.
Step 4. Year 3: Repeat Step 2 for Fire Stations.
Step 5. Years 4 and 5: Repeat Step 2 for Health centres and clinics, hospitals and children’s places of safety.
Step 6. Years 6, 7, 8…: Repeat Step 2 for government schools to provide, desks, chairs, classrooms, electricity and water. We need flushing toilets to replace the current pit latrines and holes in the ground in outhouse shacks at many rural schools.
You get where I am going with this.
I really did shake my head and ponder ‘W-T-eff?’ when I read the article. It is just so mind boggling that the government keeps on doing the same nonsensical things over and over and over. But you see, it’s not their money. It is our money.
There is a big difference between the way we spend our own money versus money given to us. We tend to spend our money on things for ourselves or others judiciously. However, when it comes to spending other people’s money we are very much, less judicious, especially when there is more to come without you having to work for it. That’s the way government spends our money, or borrowed money (hence our J$1.7 trillion debt).
Where is the morality in the actions of government unilaterally using force to take our money in taxes, to then waste it on these projects? Of course those who really benefit are the wealthy elites in society who obtain construction, security and consultancy ‘contracts’ from the state for said projects.
We really need to look at the fundamental issue…think about it….Why is government in the conference hosting business? The Jamaica Conference Centre (in Kingston) has been a resounding success, hasn’t it? Alas…another white elephant is in the offing with the planned logistics hub, check out this link.
I guess Milton Friedman was right when he said…. “Governments Never Learn. Only People Learn”…..But then again, Jamaicans never learn.
Kavon Fiennes is creator of the RightFromYaad blog. He is a 30-something year old ‘Black’, sometimes ‘Brown’, Jamaican. He is a former socialist, nationalist and Democrat, turned Libertarian and semi-conservative since his mid 20′s. He still holds lingering left-wing views on the way society ought to treat the destitute and elderly.