SUGAR AND SALT

Today’s Gleaner and for a few days prior were treated with sweet responses to the taxation of sugar, and salty responses from two versatile Government Ministers.Kellier and Hylton.
My long lost associate, Las Chin, and other members of the JMA were the protagonists joined by the Ministers of Industry and Commerce, pressing for more refined sugar taxes as best as they could , meaning more taxes to realize; and at the same time giving the Government a free hand on how to dispose of it.
What is wrong with this scenario? We need the production not the taxes; We need the impetus not the controversy: Once we sell the sugar, on each crop, there will be more taxes for the Government to use, ( for whatever contrived reason.}
What has happened to the Jamaican refineries? Or have they been deserted? Has the sugar changed its flavour? Do we not refine sugar any longer? Apparently we don’t, we import refined sugar, and probably trade it, or use it ln place of the unrefined sugar, or somehow dispose of it.
With refined sugar offering little beyond empty calories, many people are seeking healthier ways to sweeten their menu. Sugar in the Raw, a brand of turbinado sugar, is one option that — per its name — might seem like a natural and nutritious alternative. Furthermore, the differences between refined Sugar and Sugar in the Raw are minor, and their effects on your health are largely the same.
This year’s crop expected growth in all locally manufactured sugar-is somewhat disappointing by 15 tonnes, as 154,000 was the anticipated tonnage. The JCPS claims that “last year’s drought and this year’s rainfall has had an unfavourable effect on the sugar”. The last time drought and sun failed to grow a satisfactory product, was when the Lord asked Adam to leave Paradise. Three of the largest factories pro-duced their highest ever production, with Appleton at 33,000 tons, Worthy Park at 27,000 tons and Golden Grove 19,300 tons.
Other factories fell short of their targets significantly, Golden Grove 3,000 tons is mentionable, Pan Carib/ Money-musk, Long Pond Est-states by a marginal figure.
In most of their journey from field to table, refined Sugar and Sugar in the Raw undergo similar processing methods. Both sweeteners begin as sugar cane, which is first harvested and then crushed to separate the cane juice from the fibres of the plant. To strain out com the moisture and dark molasses, the juice is purified through several stages of filtration, evaporation, boiling and centrifuging.
The resulting sugar crystals are considered turbinado or “raw” sugar — the form sold as Sugar in the Raw. To transform raw sugar into refined table sugar, the product undergoes additional washing, filtering, processing and drying to remove impurities and strip away any remaining molasses colour or taste; but they look the same. Is there some deception going on at this point? It seems that the price of refined sugar to manufacturers is going down, and is being resold to groceries and retailers at a significant increase in margin.
So it would be good business to substitute imported refined sugar; Is this then the reason for the disagreement or distrust? There is a financial advantage to any drink manufacturer, refusing the taxed sugar, which works out cheaper In the confusion. Las Chin’s position is not clear; In my interpretation Las and all genuine manufacturers of sugar based beverages and products want the duty free sugar product, the raw or unrefined sugar. Frankly, most factories are now organized to refine their own sugar, and should do so, and encourage Government to create incentives.
Government just wants more taxes, so they should look elsewhere, probably to those who are selling unrefined sugar at more than meets the eye.

(631 words)
Ramesh Sujanani©

SCHOOL ZONES IN JAMAICA

SCHOOL ZONES
There has been much recent confrontation on the location of secondary schools and the results they achieve. The Minister of Education believes that they should be located near their closest foundation primary school, or residence. Parents believe they should be near an institution that promises the best in education, and/or athletics, to illustrate the character of the student. This is not the first of these efforts in this country, nor in many other countries. Needless to say a lot of thought, money and resources have to be brought into play.
A recent writer raised the point that some of the schools are in undisciplined social areas where the student might receive a stab in the back; as opposed to a slap in the back for praise. The writer exposes disparities and discrimination in schools, a product of social inequality; then points out that such behaviour is a product of GSAT examiners. Why should this interpretation be considered complicit? This system has worked for years and has seen the educational filter improve. Though It has been changed many times to accent various subjects, and to improve others, how are we to replace it? With another standardised set of tests and exams until we reach Z-SAT? As each year lengthens to create a new year, the world changes, educational levels also change, and standards like G-Sat have to be modified. I strongly recommend we do not throw it out, but find out why it is insufficient, and fix it; less trouble, lest cost.
No matter, it has taken the Minister through, and taken me through, and many others, because it represents a ‘fence’’ or a filter of some sort, which restrains slower students, correctly or incorrectly, and makes adjustments.
Authors united data from two states, Louisiana and Massachusetts — both of which had fully adopted the new teacher evaluation standards — in order to assess the distribution of effective teachers across schools of varying populations. The results show that Louisiana students in schools with high minority enrolment are more than twice as likely to have an ineffective teacher as students in schools with low minority enrolment. When measured against economic status alone, poor school districts in this state are more than three times as likely to staff ineffective teachers.
Although Massachusetts has a lower percentage of ineffective teachers, the distribution is similar. Students in high minority or low-income schools in the Bay State are significantly more likely to be placed with teachers who are evaluated at a sub-standard-rating, and it seems in Jamaica consequently the affluence and amenities in a school will likely encourage students to succeed.
Somehow in all of this we are missing the most important ingredient: The student. Most children in my view are a product of their environment, and their desire to succeed is mostly caused by the will and influence of a parent or guardian, or teacher. Somewhere in all the dissatisfied minority and underprivileged are the sparks of fire that cause a single child to become more aggressive at learning, more determined to achieve perfection, more humble to accept victory.
There is a humble teacher, of my acquaintance, who made it through the best private school, with much effort, with some of the most learned teaching team, he tackled the sixth form studies and became the Jamaica Scholar for that year, our own Ronnie Thwaite’s. now Minister Of Education.
Where do we go from here? We need to recognize the potential stars that occur, how to encourage and make them excel, and educate them to the finest standard the world has to offer.
(599 words)
Ramesh Sujanani©

ENERGY AND POWER

ENERGY & POWER: LET’S GAS AND GO.
Jamaican Industrial production is starving for more energy, at the right cost. Otherwise, it will not be competitive with imported substitutes nor with exports. The time has come to put in extra power plants, and adjustments, with improved operational function and efficient fuel. No further delay should be suffered, as an increase in power output is needed by summer 2015 (which is now)
It seems that both JPS, the major power Company, and the Government acting through ESET are investing in gas fired plants, and a coal generated power facility; together to compensate for the missing 400 Mega-Watts of power. But there are discrepancies which need resolution.
First, there are varied and conflicting views on what fuels to use, how to acquire the power plants, what kind of plants they may be. It is a consideration that they would be new, or older, but rebuilt. Before that decision is made, the question is what kind of fuel, and where this might be sourced. The apparent conflict seems to be between JPS, the country’s major power supplier, and a new energy board called ESET. The chairman of ESET, is Dr. Vin Lawrence, a qualified engineer, who may be presenting an alternative proposal.
In a recent financial Gleaner, the headline asks 26/09/2014, “’Gas or LNG”? This is a somewhat spurious question. LNG is Liquefied Natural Gas, which is the Gas of preference by the JPS. LNG is 60-80% methane gas plus some ethane, propane, and other gases in a sequence, as well as in-organic which means sulphur. Carbon, and other gaseous contaminants. The major disadvantage is that LNG has to be packaged and delivered super-cool (cryogenic).
The main alternative to LNG is LPG which means Liquefied Propane Gas, ( or liquefied petroleum gas); the prices are close to each other: The major variable is price availability and transportation costs; It would be advantageous for the plants to be near the supply, and we have to consider where our supplies come from that the prices are most competitive. It is possible that CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), in place of LNG, which is the NG may be stored in a high pressure vehicle, and dispensed from some carrier or vehicle, which is now being considered.
But the point remains, without selection of the proper fuel, no decision can be made on plant and related matters.
The JPS is insistent on the use of CNG to replace and upgrade its own processes, and have contracted the supply to a US company which obtains supplies from the Middle East, but for some reason, is refusing to move on with the project; even though the conversion of the Bogue Island Generating facility was set to go, and agreed by the concerned parties. The consortium, FTI, wishes to complete its engineering plans and proceed with Implementation, but JPS will not finalise a go ahead, which involves major engineering plans and costs.
Then ESET under Dr. Lawrence, mentions the first project at Bogue, and specifies “Propane”, which I am not sure whether he meant “LPG” or CNP
I am concerned that delay in this project will be harmful to our economy; and the costs associated will overrun. I am now hearing a revised total cost of $850 million which now includes other projects, (the conversion of fuel for public buses.)
Let us go ahead; the savings in energy, I predict will exceed half a Trillion dollars, so the cost is still valid..

©Ramesh Sujanani (584 words)