pnp-gen-sec-paul-burke.jpgFormer General Secretary of the opposition People's National Party (PNP), Paul Burke has disclosed that he was offered US$1 million (J$130 million) to successfully broker a deal between Venezuela and a consortium, of which he is a part, for the acquisition of the 49 per cent stake in Petrojam that is held by that country.

The Jamaican government holds the other 51 per cent stake in the Marcus Garvey Drive-based oil refinery.

Burke made the admission in an "amended letter" to Prime Minister Andrew Holness dated January 19 and which has been made public.

"In the interest of disclosure and transparency in this public matter, I have received no up-front payments, incentives or allowances of any sort, but stand to be paid US$1 million if I can successfully broker this deal. In this regard, I have an agreement to pay the attorney acting on my behalf in Venezuela, a success fee of US$400,000. I therefore and unapologetically, have a vested interest in this matter," Burke said in his letter.

The company on whose behalf Burke was reportedly working is listed as Cheriton Trading and Investments, with registered offices at 6 Cheriton Road, Kingston 2.

Burke and his consortium have offered to pay the Venezuelans US$55 million (J$7.1 billion) for their 49 per cent stake, while according to former PNP General Secretary Colin Campbell, another Jamaican company had offered the Venezuelans US$100 million for the shares. Campbell, in a column in a local newspaper, said it was noteworthy that the Jamaican government's offer of US$50 million to the Venezuelans, "strikingly resembles" the US$55 million that was offered by a local company.

Burke's amended letter to Holness, was also sent in the prime minister's capacity as energy minister. But, while stating his intention to clear up any misunderstanding in the letter, Burke appears to have deepened the controversy.

In his letter, he tells Holness that he cannot, at this time, make public the names of the other members of the consortium. He also said the consortium was interested in acquiring Petrojam from as far back as the first quarter of 2018 after members were told that the refinery was up for sale and that it would likely be snapped up by the Chinese.

According to Burke, he was "happily prepared to allow cyber experts from the OPM (Office of the Prime Minister), to have access to specific emails and contents, so as to verify and establish the authenticity for, among other things, dates and when members of the consortium first expressed an interest in acquiring Petrojam.

As to the Chinese entity to which Burke said the Jamaican government was interested in divesting its Petrojam shares, Burke said he will not mention the company's name. But the former general secretary said consortium members were of the view that "Jamaicans could and should own a major stake in this strategic entity."

"Let me also declare, that if the Government of Jamaica is not interested in purchasing these (Venezuelan) shares, this consortium of investors, at an appropriate time, will demonstrate proof and source of funds. The Jamaican public will then be able to judge, who is sincere and who are 'poker bluffing'," said Burke.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately, because this matter was never discussed on any of my phones, police intelligence would not have been able to pick up any information relating to this issue," Burke added.

He said the first offer was made in early November, 2018 and a final and revised offer was actually made on the November 21, sent to an attorney in Venezuela and dispatched to the Venezuelan Embassy on November 26. He also made public the offer letter written by him in his capacity as CEO of Cheriton.

He indicated that the letter was copied to Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, PNP spokesman on energy, Phillip Paulwell and PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson as well as relevant permanent secretaries.

Burke described Cheriton as being part of a consortium of investors with an "idyllic mix of talent and sufficiency of financial resources...".

He said the purpose of the letter was to "express the consortium's extreme interest in acquiring the republic's (Venezuela's) equity ownership in Petrojam."

Lawyer missing since January 5

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police-federation-logo.jpgSixty-five-year-old Williams Hines, otherwise called 'Baldie', an attorney-at-law of Greenside, Falmouth in Trelawny and Mona in St Andrew, has been missing since Sunday, January 6.

Hines is of dark complexion, slim built and is about 170 centimetres (five feet seven inches) tall.

Reports from the Falmouth police are that about 11:00 a.m., Hines was last seen at home in Trelawny.

He has not been heard from since.

His mode of dress at the time he went missing is unknown.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Williams Hines is being asked to contact the Falmouth police at 876-954-3271, the police 119 emergency number, or the nearest police station.

Fish released in gullies to fight dengue

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dengue.jpgWith the recent increase in cases of dengue-related illnesses and deaths in Jamaica, residents of Old Harbour in St. Catherine are one step closer to a dengue free environment.

This as some 1800 Tilapia fish, provided by the Ministry of Fisheries, were deposited into gullies in the community recently.

Noting that a sensitization meeting was also held in the community last Friday, where 24 bottles of mosquito repellent were distributed, Community and Public Relations Specialist at Jamaica Energy Partners, JEP, Mellisa Newman says the move is one step to successful mosquito eradication.

She adds that the fish will significantly reduce the number of larvae that exist in water settlements, such as gullies.

Noting the possible health effects associated with mosquito-borne diseases Newman says she hopes other organizations will play their part in creating a mosquito free environment.

She says a larvae count will be conducted in the upcoming weeks to assess the effectiveness of this environmentally friendly approach of reducing mosquito reproduction.

Good news as Jamaican appointed to Canadian Senate

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The Government and representatives from several organisations are celebrating the appointment of Jamaican born, Dr. Rosemary Moodie to the Canadian senate. Dr. Moodie who has distinguished herself in healthcare and community service, both in Jamaica, and her adopted homeland, was recently recommended by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to be an independent member of the upper house of their parliament.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, senator Kamina Johnson Smith, the appointment is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the partnership between Jamaica and Canada, and Dr. Moodie has been exemplary with her involvement in reducing social inequalities and health disparities, locally and internationally.

Senator Johnson Smith was among government officials, sector leaders and diplomats who gathered recently at the official residence of Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, in St. Andrew, to honour the Jamaican for her latest achievement.

In 2017, she was conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by the government of Jamaica.

Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson says the move is a source of very great pride to us, that one more native has excelled to an esteemed international body.

In making the announcement in December, to appoint Dr. Moodie to the senate, Prime Minister Trudeau says she and the other three new independent senators bring with them wealth of knowledge and experience, that will greatly benefit parliament, and all of Canada.

grace-hamilton-on-instagram-please-help-me-wish-my-little-princess.jpgPlease help me wish my little princess, Nicholatoy happy birthday πŸŽˆπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽπŸŽ‚. Here's a reason why I flight so hard to give you happy days like this πŸ™πŸΎ I love you my cupcake 🧁 I promise to be right by your side every step of the way. I'm so grateful that I was able to grant the pool party you requested, even tho mi nearly drown ina the dunk tank 🀣 thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate this special moment with us πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’• #Daughter #Mommymode #BlackwigmeansGrace

Grace Hamilton on Instagram: "Please help me wish my little princess, Nicholatoy happy birthday πŸŽˆπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽπŸŽ‚. Here's a reason why I flight so hard to give you happy days like..."

A year-long calendar of activities has been announced to celebrate the 40th anniversary of VP Records. The year will see a variety of music and cultural events, products, historical exhibits and experiences, in Jamaica, across the US, Toronto, Canada and London, England.

"VP is integral to the history of reggae and dancehall music. We take this responsibility seriously and we are using our 40th anniversary to celebrate the music's rich heritage as we steward the genre into the future," said company President Randy Chin. "A major focus for the anniversary is highlighting the company's commitment to the development, promotion, and globalisation of Jamaican music."

The company kicks off its anniversary celebrations with a return to its homeland of Jamaica in January for Strictly The Best - LIVE Montego Bay on January 30, continuing into the summer with a historical exhibit titled A Reggae Music Journey at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The exhibition will move to Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport in June through to the end of the year.

Stateside, VP will launch The Reggae Trail, an interactive digital experience that features a map of historical locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City central to the growth of the Jamaican music industry and VP Records.

In April there will be Record Store Day to commemorate the annual celebration of vinyl culture. Four newly issued vinyl exclusives are expected to be released. VP Records will present a live sound system showcase at its retail outlets in New York and Florida. There will also be at least three major live concerts in the New York City area this summer, including the 9th staging of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens on Sunday, July 21.

A box set drawn from the vast catalogue of hits and rarities from VP Records is also being considered.

VP Records has been at the heart of reggae, dancehall and soca for 40 years sharing the music of Dennis Brown, Barrington Levy, Freddie McGregor, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Tarrus Riley, and a host of others.

buju-banton-photo-11.jpgBoom Energy Drink is the title sponsor for the first concert of Buju Banton's Long Walk to Freedom Tour, scheduled for National Stadium in St Andrew on March 16, 2019. William Mahfood, Wisynco Group chairman, explained his company's association with the event.

"When we look at the importance of reggae music in the Jamaican culture, there have been a few artistes over the course of our history of music who have had a material impact, and in so many ways. The reggae icon Buju Banton is definitely one of those artistes. In our first meeting upon his arrival, we shared similar passions for improving the lives of our Jamaican people, our culture, and reggae music. I knew immediately that it was important as a Jamaican company that sells predominately Jamaican products, that we had a vital role to play to help elevate his platform -- to unlock the true opportunity, to inspire Jamaican youth," said Mahfood.

"Wisynco has a set of core values that speak to CHIRP. This stands for compassion, humility, integrity, respect, and passion. As a company, it's through our belief in compassion and reciprocity, centred on core Christian principles, which inspire us to lead by example and encourage others to have compassion for our fellow Jamaican people."

The evening will also be supported through an associate sponsorship with the Tru-Juice and WATA brands.

"As the number one energy drink in Jamaica, BOOM knows what it takes to be the best. We are committed to providing the highest-quality products and experiences that are accessible to all Jamaicans, no matter their status. This is perfectly aligned with how we view Buju's music and stage presence, second to none, we know that this will be delivered to all of his fans on the night of March 16," said Tamara Ward, senior marketing and PR manager.

Patrons can participate in ticket giveaways on BOOM's IG, Twitter, and Facebook pages until February 8.


gully-bop-and-shauna-chin-kissing.jpgUnconfirmed reports are that Gully Bop is upset at Chyn for stealing his lines and is reportedly considering to file a lawsuit against the woman who was supposedly his ex-fiancee.

According to sources, the "Wuk Affa Mi" deejay is not here for it with Chyn, who is using "From The Money To The Gully" line for her debut album.

Shauna Chyn who is currently buzzing on the local scene with her new singles, announced earlier this week that she will be dropping an EP later this year with the tagline which was coined by Bop shortly after his rise to stardom.

"Right now this is an insult to injury for Gully Bop if you ask me", sources are reported as saying. "There is a lot of things they are doing behind the scenes to stop Bop's food and now this is crossing the line. How can you take his tagline and trying to profit from it? He might be taking her to court so we shall see how this plays out" a report states.

Last year Shauna Chyn revealed that her romance with Gully Bop was just for the camera as they weren't actually dating. The "Suicide" singer claimed it was only a publicity stunt designed by his management team.

According to Chyn, the plan which was structured as a 'nothing to something' success story was going great until the "Body Specialist" deejay wanted more out of the arrangement. She claims that Bop began to have real feelings for her and forgot it was all a show.

Shauna added that she wasn't going to speak out on their business deal however she's tired of her name getting involved with Gully Bop as the negative press is affecting her music career.