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News Week: JANUARY 02, 2022

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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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News Week: JANUARY 09, 2022

Jamaican overseas gives to Black River Hospital

The Black River Hospital in St. Elizabeth has received nine wheelchairs, two walkers and two crutches, valued at J$400,000, to boost its patient care.

The items came from owner of Hardware & Plumbing Supply Ltd. who is also a native of St. Elizabeth, Howard Bailey.

CEO for the hospital, Diana Brown-Miller expressed gratitude to Mr. Bailey for the donation that will help the hospital with increased patient care during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

“The hospital registers its profound gratitude for this donation and looks forward to the continuous support from our partners and well-wishers,” she said.

Mr. Bailey, who now resides overseas, noted that he has always wanted to give back to his community and chose healthcare because of the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“Because of the challenges of COVID-19, healthcare needs all the support it can get and I am happy I am able to assist and be of service to the hospital and the community”, he added.

Please, take the COVID-19 vaccine, health minister urges

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton is again imploring Jamaicans to get vaccinated, especially in light of the fourth wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19), from which the more contagious Omicron variant has emerged.

He reminded the public that mainly unvaccinated persons are being hospitalised with severe illness or dying from the virus.

“We need to continue to emphasise to Jamaicans that the persons who are most affected by COVID-19, irrespective of the strain… are persons who are not vaccinated, and it is a sobering message to those who are not that you are in increased danger and you should make every effort to get vaccinated,” he warned.

Dr. Tufton noted that as predicted, the fourth wave of the pandemic is now being experienced in Jamaica, evidenced by the increase in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks.

“In the last 24 hours, Jamaica hit an undesirable record of 1,128 new COVID-19 infections since the first case was discovered close to two years ago. It’s the most in any given day in keeping with the fourth wave,” he said.

The Minister stressed that the elderly, in particular, and those who are immunocompromised and/or who are living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes and hypertension, are being encouraged to get vaccinated.

Shelters under construction for Westmoreland’s poorest

Westmoreland is getting an additional six social housing solutions to benefit the less fortunate in the parish.

These will be in addition to a house being constructed for a family in the Sheffield division in the parish, and another that is slated to be built in the Cornwall Mountain division, said Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.

“The criteria that makes one eligible for these [housing] solutions are that they must be a registered poor, and that the investigation and the determination will be made by the Inspector of Poor [for the parish],” he said.

On a subsequent visit to the house being constructed in the Sheffield division, the Minister said that he hopes the new unit will herald a new beginning for the family.

“I am looking at the commencement of a change in the fortune of a family. There are hundreds of Jamaicans just like this family in a similar situation. We will never have all the resources that are required to offer the assistance, but at least we are making a start,” he said.

The two-bedroom house will have its own water harvesting system and will be fully furnished when handed over to the family.

Rock Hall gets printer from Usain Bolt Foundation

Rock Hall Primary School in rural St. Andrew has benefited from a donation of cartridge-free printer and printing paper by the Usain Bolt Foundation, which will better enable the institution to meet the learning needs of students during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams said that while the Ministry is facilitating a blended learning approach through online and audio-visual classes and learning kits, most schools are required to produce printed materials for each student.

“I know that schools use a lot of paper [to produce] printed worksheets for [students] to work on and I’m sure [the] school will benefit from this donation,” she said.

Member of Parliament for St. Andrew West Rural Juliet Cuthbert Flynn said that she is pleased with the resumption of face-to-face classes. “I know it has been very difficult for all of you while being at home and trying to navigate the tablets or your computers to do Zoom classes. So, I’m sure coming to school for two or three days a week is great, [because you’re] out of the house,” she noted.

Acting Principal of Rock Hall Primary School, Keisha Mehabear, expressed gratitude for the donation.

The Usain Bolt Foundation is donating 100 printers and 20 projectors to primary schools across the island.

Better accountability under NIDS, says Prime Minister

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the national identification system (NIDS) will be fully operational this year.

“I’m hoping that by the end of the year, we will have a significant portion, if not the majority of the population properly identified in the national identification system,” Mr. Holness said.

He was speaking during a tour of the NIDS card centre at the Post and Telecommunication Department on South Camp Road in Kingston, on January 4.

The facility will be responsible for producing the identification (ID) cards issued under NIDS. It includes the production centre, vault area and enrolment site.

Prime Minister Holness, in outlining the importance of NIDS, noted that when a service is provided, the Government must be able to identify the beneficiaries and “be able to account to you the citizens, as to how your funds are spent”.

“So there is, even now, a greater need to be able to identify who benefits when public resources are spent. But, more than that, we need to be able to identify our citizens so we can properly plan. One of the big problems we have always faced, as a government, is that some get, and others don’t,” he said.

“One of the reasons why you have that problem is that we just don’t account for everyone. So, you’re not able to plan for everyone, and what we’re doing, in our 60th year [of Independence] with the establishment of the NIDS, is to ensure that every single Jamaican can be included, accounted for, and properly served,” Mr. Holness added.

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News Week: JANUARY 16, 2021

PROVEN Wealth Portfolio Advisors hand over supplies to the Cornwall Regional Hospital. From left: Howard Dyer, Senior Portfolio Advisor; Jermaine Harvey, Portfolio Advisor from PROVEN Wealth; Shauntte Brown Smith, CEO, Assistant; Charmaine Beckford, CEO of the Cornwall Regional; and Dane Neil, the Managing Director of Neil’s Bulk Chemicals.

PROVEN Wealth donates to two regional hospitals

Although national vaccination efforts have begun, the healthcare sector is still being stressed because of the inherent demand generated by COVID-19 and the various strains of the virus.

In the previous months, we have seen a significant increase in the hospitalization of COVID-19 patients, which resulted in a higher demand for medical supplies. The team at PROVEN recognizes the critical importance for these items and provided support to Cornwall Regional and Mandeville Regional hospitals by way of donation in kind. These items included masks, cleaning agents, hand towel and other essential items.

On receipt of these donations, both CEOs expressed their gratitude to the PROVEN Wealth Team. “The Cornwall Regional Hospital is extremely grateful for the donation which will help us to continue to maintain good infection control standards which is critical at this time. Thank you PROVEN,” said Charmaine Beckford, CEO of Cornwall Regional Hospital.

“This could have not come at a better time, especially given the overcrowded nature of the hospital due to the virus,” said Alwyn Miller, CEO of Mandeville Regional Hospital.

This COVID-19 response aligns with PROVEN Wealth’s social mandate in contributing to community development through meaningfully supporting the health needs. This is just one of the numerous ways in which PROVEN Wealth, and its members, give back.

Said Paul Ebanks, the Mandeville Branch Manager, “Upon receiving the call from Mr. Miller, regarding the needs of the hospital. We coordinated with regional supplier Neil’s Bulk Chemicals to provide some of the much-needed supplies. We understood the need and I am proud to be a part of an organization that stands ready to assist when possible. I would implore all companies in corporate Jamaica to pitch in as much as they can to alleviate the strain on the hospitals and our health system as we continue to navigate this pandemic.”

We will respect your rights, JDF boss tells residents

Chief of Defence Staff Lt. General Rocky Meade is assuring residents of Parade Gardens in Central Kingston, where a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) has been declared, that their rights will be safeguarded as the security forces conduct their duties in the area.

“While we acknowledge that persons may be concerned about the implications of the internal security operations as they go about their day-to-day business, we want to assure citizens that both Jamaica Defence (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) [personnel] have been adequately trained and oriented to ensure the protection of the human rights of all Jamaicans,” he said.

General Meade informed that the ZOSO will give the security forces temporary additional powers of search, arrest and detention.

“We believe this is necessary in order to give the security forces the space necessary to carry out the operational tasks that will be required to help bring a sense of normalcy to the community,” he said.

Traffic ticketing system will improve public order, safety

Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang is confident the electronic Traffic Ticket Management System (TTMS) will be a positive addition towards the transformation and modernization of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in carrying out its mandate to ensure public order and safety.


Minister Chang, along with newly appointed State Minister in the Ministry of National Security Zavia Mayne, Permanent Secretary Courtney Williams, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, as well as the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica president Keith Duncan, and representatives from the National Road Safety Unit, observed the system earlier this month.

“The idea for an electronic Traffic Ticket Management System was first mooted in 1988 and although it has taken some time to be fully operational, we believe this development will prove a success and another positive addition in the arsenal of the police in the execution of their duties,” said Minister Chang.

Prime Minister Holness hails big port investment

A US$60 million redevelopment of Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) is a significant boost for the productive sector and the economy, said Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The investment will cover three major infrastructural development projects, and the prime minister said that KWL has done well in reinventing and re-establishing itself as one of the most competitive and successful mixed-used ports that has created significant employment opportunities.

Prime Minister Holness underscored that these investment is a signal that the Jamaican economy is getting back on track.

Education Ministry plugging the ‘digital divide’

The Ministry of Education, through e-Learning Jamaica Limited, will be procuring 42,311 devices for lower primary and secondary students.

Portfolio Minister Fayval Williams said that eLearning Jamaica has already acquired 11,500 tablets and is preparing to start the distribution to lower secondary-school students in the rural schools across the island.

“This will help to significantly reduce the digital divide. To date, we have distributed approximately 130,000 tablets and laptops to our teachers and students with a special focus on students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH),” she said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry continues to provide audiovisual lessons via the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) and the Ministry’s two new TV channels through the eHomeSchool Network.

One channel focuses on offering live and recorded lessons for the primary level and the other is focused on secondary-school students.

Apply now for grants to fund community projects

Twenty million dollars in grant funding will go to community-based organisations and committees, under the Social Development Commission (SDC) Grant Call for Proposals.

This is the SDC’s second call for proposals for fiscal year 2021/2022, with the funding available in four categories of grants.

Public Relations Manager at the SDC Mandel McKulsky said that application forms can be found on the SDC’s website at Criteria for eligibility are also on the SDC’s website, and applicants can contact their respective parish offices for support in completing the various forms.

McKulsky said that 164 grants were issued from the agency’s first grant call for proposals for the fiscal year and the SDC stands ready to issue even more.

Holland Primary targets reading skills as classes resume

Principal of Holland Primary School in St. Elizabeth Simone Doctor said focus is being placed on improving the reading levels among the critical grades as face-to-face classes resume in schools across Jamaica.

Her team is already been devising strategies to improve students’ reading across all the grades. Mrs. Doctor said that special emphasis will be placed on some grade four students.

“They would have left the face-to-face setting at grade two when they needed that teaching. So, we are recognising that there are several slow students [and] what we are doing now is have them go through a trial,” the principal noted.

She explained that on Tuesdays the grade-four students will be separated based on their reading ability, where special reading lessons will be taught to bring them back up to speed.

“It is not throughout the whole period that they will be separated [and] we have already brought that to the parents that we are trying that for now, because some of them will need some intervention that others won’t need,” said Mrs. Doctor.

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News Week: JANUARY 23, 2021

COVID-19 in 75 per cent of communities

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, is reporting that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is now in 75 per cent of communities across the island, with 828 hospital admissions.

She said that over the past two weeks the number of deaths has been climbing and warned that persons should not regard the Omicron variant of the virus as only “mild”, as “it still causes severe illness”.

According to the CMO, the Delta variant might be among the population, and with 95 per cent of persons on COVID beds unvaccinated, there is a need for an increase in the rate of vaccination.

“This certainly means that persons need to get vaccinated, because vaccination will prevent severe illness, decreases hospitalizations, and will decrease the number of persons with poor outcomes,” she said.

‘I look forward to benefiting from her wise counsel,’ says PM Holness as first female takes top post in JDF

The first female to head the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Rear Admiral Antonette  Wemyss Gorman, has assumed office as Chief of Defence Staff.

Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen presented her with the Instrument of Appointment during a ceremony at King’s House, which also saw her subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office.

Admiral Wemyss Gorman succeeds Lieutenant General Rocky Meade who retires from the JDF after serving for 38 years, the last five as Chief of Staff.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Juliet Holness; and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang, headed the government and other officials attending the ceremony.

Mr. Holness, in congratulating Admiral Wemyss Gorman, said her selection through a competitive process by the Defence Board was based on that body’s conclusion that she has the requisite leadership skills, experience, commitment, and strategic vision “to lead the men and women of the JDF and drive them to achieve even greater levels of success”.

In highlighting notable achievements of Admiral Wemyss Gorman’s 29-year military career, Mr. Holness said her tenure in the Coast Guard allows her to treat significantly with issues relating to maritime security and the blue economy.

Added the Prime Minister, “She will, therefore, bring a unique perspective to our discussions and efforts to strengthen our borders and prevent illicit inflows, protect the lives and livelihoods of our coastal communities, and ensure Jamaica can derive sustainable benefits from our maritime resources. I look forward to benefiting from her wise counsel on matters relating to defence and security.”

Chukka Caribbean, Appleton Estate celebrate partnership

Chukka Caribbean Adventures and Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum are celebrating their new partnership, aimed at bolstering the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience.

Master blender, Joy Spence, for whom the facility is named, took attendees through the history of Appleton from its inception in 1749 to its status as a reputable brand today, and which continues to be a major force in the worldwide spirit industry.

Ms. Spence, who is celebrating 40 years at Appleton, with 24 as master blender, said that Appleton rum, with its rich history and global appeal, continues to be an integral part of brand Jamaica.

The master blender said she is passionate about the Appleton brand and creating various mixes and blends that everyone can enjoy.

For his part, Chief Strategist/Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, hailed Ms. Spence, as “a national treasure”. He noted that the Appleton brand is easily one of the best in the international spirit industry, and is a “first-class brand, which remains an integral part of our tourism product”.

Mr. Seiveright also welcomed the partnership between Appleton Rum and Chukka Caribbean Adventures, which went into operation on December 1.

“I am confident that the JSAERE tour will remain a must-see and will be having a major impact on south-coast tourism,” he said.

The arrangement will see Chukka handling all sales, marketing, ticketing, and invoicing for the tour, and the full customer experience from point of departure to arrival.

Appleton will continue to maintain full control of the operations and maintenance of the facility to include delivery of the tour experience, retail, and food and beverage.

It is expected that Chukka will use its relationship with the cruise lines and the destination management companies to bring visitors to the south coast.

European Union funds security agenda

The Government of Jamaica-European Union Partnership to Support Citizen Security in Jamaica has been formally launched. The initiative seeks to contribute to the improvement of the security environment and the promotion of social inclusion in communities.

Under the programme, the European Union will provide Jamaica with J$3.5 billion over four years through budgetary support.

Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang said that citizen security is the most fundamental objective of national security in Jamaica today.

“It presents the most comprehensive approach to guaranteeing the delicate balance between the security of persons and their democratic coexistence. It is regarded as the concept that best lends itself to addressing the problems of crime and violence from a human rights perspective,” he said.

The funds are being directed mainly to the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in order to have measurable results as it relates to reduced criminal activity and enhancing opportunities for the residents to engage in self-improvement and empowerment initiatives.

Japan gives money to rural school for two buses

Lacovia High School in St. Elizabeth has received a grant to purchase two school buses for the improvement of the transportation system in school communities.

The grant was approved under the Ministry of Education and Youth Expanded Pilot School Bus Programme and the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project of the Government of Japan. The total value is US$135,014.

Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Masaya Fujiwara, said the buses will be purchased from Toyota Jamaica. He noted that during “pre-COVID times, approximately 30 per cent of students face delay in arriving at school on time, daily”.

“In this regard, the people and the Government of Japan saw the need to provide funding to alleviate the transportation woes being faced by the current student population of over 1,200 students,” Mr. Fujiwara said.

Chairwoman of Lacovia High School, Lola Marshall-Williams, said the school is grateful for the assistance. “I assure you that this is a very generous gift and with the participation of the Ministry, we will utilise these buses to enrich the lives of the entire Lacovia school family,” she said.

NWC accelerates tech to serve customers better

As Jamaicans continue to embrace technology and the thrust continues for real-time information in the virtual space, the National Water Commission (NWC) has proactively been transforming its services as part of an overall drive to be a more customer-centric organisation.

To this end, the NWC will launch its Customer Web Access (CWA) Portal in February 2022. This portal, which will be hosted on the company’s website, will provide a “self-service desk” for customers who want to get information about their accounts in real time.

Customers will be able to access a summary of their account details, including billing, consumption and payment history for up to 13 months, and access the NWC’s iPay portal to make payments. Additionally, those customers who would like to initiate requests for payment arrangements and updates to their contact information (namely mailing addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers) can do so via the CWA Portal. It will also facilitate customers with multiple properties to be serviced under one login profile.

As part of the requirement to access the CWA Portal, customers must ensure that their Taxpayer Registration Numbers (TRN) and a government-issued ID are registered with the NWC.

Customers are, therefore, encouraged to submit a scanned copy of their TRN cards and a government-issued ID to or visit one of the NWC’s commercial offices with these documents to update their account information. Persons who do not have a physical TRN card may submit a certified letter from the Tax Administration Jamaica bearing their TRN information.

Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are encouraged to use the various portals provided by the NWC to pay bills and have their queries addressed as we strive to adhere to the Disaster Risk Management protocols stipulated by the Government.

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News Week: JANUARY 30, 2021

Jamaica will defeat crime, vows security minister

Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang said the Government is determined to defeat crime and disrupt the activities of well-resourced persons who are bent on causing mayhem in communities.

He noted that the society is being challenged by persons, who abide by no rules and will do anything for their own success; but stressed that the State will win the battle against crime and encouraged citizens to stand united against the scourge.

“We are going to win because we are committed to our principles, we trust in God, and we have faith in the Jamaican people. We have the men and women out there, and we will overcome those challenges,” he added.

Dr. Chang urged the security forces to build trust with citizens, “so that we can achieve unity under Christ, and achieve the success that we all [strive] for, to ensure that there is public safety and good order for all of Jamaica”.

COVID-19 measures to go shortly, says PM Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said over the coming months the Government will be looking to remove more of the measures that have been instituted to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.

“Barring any extreme change in circumstances, our approach will be to gradually scale back restrictive measures once we get out of the fourth wave that we are now experiencing. We will not keep the measures longer than is necessary,” promised the prime minister.

Mr. Holness said the national approach adopted to counter the COVID-19 pandemic of saving lives and livelihoods “has served us well”. He noted that almost two years into the pandemic, “we have both the knowledge and means to protect ourselves”.

The Prime Minister maintained that citizens have access to adequate reliable information and resources “to assess [their] own health and risks as well as their handwashing and sanitizing, and physical distancing.

Agri training continues for youth farmer

More young Jamaicans are being trained and certified as youth famers through the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, in partnership with HEART/NSTA Trust.

Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake, said the programme was developed to meet the growing demand for certification by youth farmers.

“The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has always been certifying our youth farmers,” he emphasized. “A lot of them have been certified under our mastery level programme.”

The certification is based on the knowledge that youth farmers have already acquired from working in the field. Dr. Blake said that 323 youth farmers are currently being assessed to receive certification under the programme.

Dr. Blake added, “The Youth Farmer Certification Programme is based on training on a whole and prior learning assessment, and it takes into consideration that these youngsters have been practically doing a particular activity over time and they have participated in various training by the 4-H Clubs and other agencies.”

Foreign ministry has big plans for Jamaica’s 60th year

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is celebrating Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of Independence with a slew of activities throughout this year.

Dubbed ‘Reigniting a Nation: Global Excellence, Our Mission’, the celebration will also recognize the establishment of the Foreign Ministry in 1962.

“Our intention is to use existing and new opportunities throughout the year to showcase the work undertaken by the Ministry… and the impact it has had on national development,” said Portfolio Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith.

Activities to be included in the anniversary celebrations are the annual Diplomatic Week and the Jamaica 60 biennial diaspora conference.

Senator Johnson Smith said that the Ministry will support national events, which may include State and official visits to Jamaica and from Jamaica to other countries.

The Ministry will also join the national Independence activities in August as well as mark Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of membership to the United Nations.

“We will work directly with the diaspora in its plans to celebrate within the respective jurisdictions as well as the national activities, which will unfold in Jamaica,” Senator Johnson Smith added.

Pearnel Charles Jr. focuses on food security

Jamaica’s food security is a top priority for the Government, according to Pearnel Charles Jr., the Minister of Agriculture.

He noted that there is global demand for Jamaican produce, adding that the Government is seeking to increase local production of several crops, particularly onion. He informed that the Ministry has set a target of increasing onion production from 20 per cent to 70 per cent to meet local demand.

He noted that onion production is just one of several crops targeted for increased production, to satisfy local and global demand. He said, “There are several – ginger, potato and others that we will be focusing on because right now, our import bill is too high. We want to make sure that through our parish managers and our extinction services, that we at least bring it up so that we can feed our country. First order is that Jamaica be able to feed itself, feed its tourists, and then go out and stretch across the world.”

Noting that agriculture is a critical component of the country’s economic recovery, Mr. Charles Jr. urged all Jamaicans to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the sector.

“Get involved. As we reset our economy, and we move to get economic recovery booming, farming and fisheries are presenting opportunities to you,” said the minister.

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