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SHARING THE LOVE: Rotary medical mission

Five-minute feature on acts of kindness by local or overseas based non-government individuals and organisations that have benefitted Jamaicans.

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Written and produced by the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service

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News for Week of January 2, 2022
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

Sandals believes in ‘Brand Jamaica’, says tourism minister

Sandals International Resorts’ investment of US$240 million in local projects is proof of the company’s belief and commitment to Jamaica, said Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

He was speaking at the official opening of 84 new rooms and suites at the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, St. James on December 23. Mr. Bartlett, in referring to Sandals as an international brand that commands respect right across the globe, said few entities have done more for Jamaica, and by extension the Caribbean, in tourism than “the legacy of its great founder, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

“While some…would rather take a wait and see approach during this worldwide global pandemic, Sandals is taking the bold approach in reaffirming its belief in brand Jamaica and the future of the tourism sector,” Mr. Bartlett noted.

“It is an unwavering commitment that spans several decades and which we can see here, will continue in the foreseeable future. We salute them for their belief in what we [the government] have been doing to bring tourism back and protecting lives and livelihoods.”

Minister Bartlett assured the Sandals team that its “belief and commitment” in the local tourism industry will return “rich dividends”. He added that not only is Jamaica a first choice destination, but that the sector is coming back at a pace that few would have expected “just 21 months ago”.


Work to resume on Push-Start Foundation-supported Chapelton Community Hospital

The second phase of the Push-Start Foundation-supported Chapelton Community Hospital project in Clarendon is to begin this month.

A contract, valuing $112 million for phase two of the upgrading and expansion project, was signed on December 21 between the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), and Cenitech Engineering Company.

Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon Robert Morgan said that residents are eager for the reopening of the facility. He said that the facility is an “essential aspect of the community,” and the upgrading will “add significant benefits to the community”.

Regional Director with the SRHA Michael Bent stated that by the middle of next year the hospital should be recommissioned into service, noting that the residents have been waiting for the work to be completed. “It will be a magnificent building when it is completed,” he said.

Phase one of the upgrading work was financed by Jamaican born United States-based businesswoman Beverly Nichols, who donated US$1 million for the project through her Push-Start Foundation. Phase two is funded by the Government of Jamaica through the National Health Fund and the CHASE Fund.


Exploration continues for copper, zinc, gold, says mining minister

Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague said exploration work being done by Geophysx Jamaica Limited, is showing positive indications. 

The company, licensed by the Ministry and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), is exploring for copper, zinc, gold and other minerals. Geophysx is a mineral exploration group that operates with modern, yet economically, ecologically and sociologically sustainable techniques.

The Minister, who was addressing a press conference to update the country on the next phase of surveys by the company, said the work has shown that “there is something else”.

“We are moving to confirmation and it will expand employment for our people, and we will earn foreign exchange for the country. There are exciting times ahead for mining, once we complete phase three of the Geophysx,” the Minister said.

Minister Montague added that he is anticipating that there will be some commercial finds, and based on “the results that we have in hand, we are very hopeful that we are going to find some things. We are going to push this and ensure that the environmental standards are maintained and kept”, he said.


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Squatting talks back on the national agenda this month

The second draft of the National Squatter Management Policy is to be submitted to Cabinet by the end of this month, along with the implementation plan and budget.

This is according to data provided by a Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change document that noted that consultations were held with the housing ministry; Ministries, Departments and Agencies; municipal corporations and planning authorities; landowners (private and public); representatives of squatter settlements; and legal and service providers.

The Squatter Management Policy and implementation plan will provide a strategic direction for addressing squatting with the aim of cauterising the practice and fostering orderly development of land resources.

This policy will provide the enabling framework within which the government can realise its wider goal of access to affordable, safe and legal housing solutions for all Jamaicans.

To inform the Squatter Management Policy, a total of 30,097 surveys were completed in eight parishes under the National Survey of Squatter Settlements to date. Surveys were conducted in Clarendon, Manchester, St. Ann, St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, Hanover, Portland and St. Mary.

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Pensioners to get NIS payments monthly instead of fortnightly

Beginning this month, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will start to transition pension payments from fortnightly to monthly, for National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners, who use the pension order books.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Collette Roberts Risden explained that historically, NIS pensioners would get their payment via vouchers in pension order books totalling up to 13 vouchers fortnightly, over six months. However, since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they have been allowed to collect two or three payments in one.

“With this new thrust, we are moving to pay our pensioners 12 vouchers, one for each month instead. This would be in keeping with what has been happening over the past one year and nine months, with the early encashment of pension vouchers,” Mrs. Roberts Risden said.

The phased implementation, beginning January, will be done depending on the payment cycle.

There are six payment cycles reflected by a letter at the end of the pension number assigned to each pensioner.

Pensioners who are to receive their new pension order books in January 2022 will receive the first set of six-voucher pension order books.

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