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News for Week of July 25, 2021
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

50,000 hotel workers back on the job!

Jamaica’s tourism industry has brought back more than 50,000 workers in the last six months, showing its capacity for resilience and its ability to bounce back from crises.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that visitors are also returning to Jamaica. He said, “In the last seven months, we have brought in nearly 700,000 visitors (stopovers) and, by the end of August, we are projected to reach a million visitors and passengers coming into Jamaica, which will bring somewhere in the region of US$1.5 billion into the local economy. No other industry could do that in seven months; the tourism industry has.”

Discussing building capacity for local suppliers, Minister Bartlett said, “As we recover, we need to recover together and recover stronger. We need to recoup much of the losses we had before the pandemic because before the pandemic we had a leakage situation of US dollars from the industry of some 60 cents. We had reached the level of 40 cents retention.” 

The tourism minister said Jamaica must move beyond 40 cents to a 50 cents retention rate, noting that, “the pandemic has given us this opportunity because we are starting from ground zero so we can recover together.”

Carib Cement committed to corporate social responsibility.

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Science will drive planning, says urban renewal minister

The Government’s capacity to make better planning and development decisions will be improved with the launch of the National Spatial Planning Information Technology platform. It will provide reliable, accurate and updated data on distribution of people and activities.

The platform, which was conceptualised and developed as part of the Government’s efforts to incorporate technology into planning and development as well as its business processes, was officially launched by Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr. earlier this month.

Minister Charles Jr. said the platform will ensure optimal use of the country’s natural land and marine resources and will help to roll out the National Spatial Plan as effectively as possible.

The spatial plan outlines the governance framework for optimal and effective use and management of Jamaica’s natural resources for sustainable development.

“We are trying to change how we operate, how we think and, therefore, our outcomes…,” said the minister. “This is the launch of a platform which is a part of the integral thrust for government to use science and technology, information and data to inform our decisions.”
 

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Green embraces insurance for farmers

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green has welcomed the insurance product, GraceKennedy (GK) Weather Protect, which will provide coverage for farmers and fisherfolk impacted by adverse weather events.

The policy is being provided through GK Insurance and will protect the businesses of farmers and fishers against heavy rain, wind and drought.

The minister said that this new product “could not have come at a better time”, given the fact that the hurricane season has begun. He pointed out that the impact of severe weather conditions has been a major challenge for the agricultural sector, noting that between 2004 and 2017, the sector suffered $196 billion in losses from weather-related events.

Mr. Green said that in October last year there was a significant period of sustained rains that caused more than $2.5 billion in damage to crops across Jamaica, and affected 14,000 farmers.

“They (farmers) had to depend on the Government to find the resources to give them to start their agricultural enterprise again,” said the minister. “While we were able to pull together over $600 million to get our farmers up and running, one of the realities is that a lot of the farmers had to wait for significant periods to get that support from the Government… [due to several factors].”

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Jamalco Scholarships
Jamalco Scholarships

Cherrise Martin, student at the University of Technology, accepts her scholarship confirmation letter from Managing Director of Jamalco Austin Mooney. Jamalco has awarded some J$13 million in scholarships, bursaries and assistance with back-to-school items to early childhood, primary, high school and tertiary level students in Clarendon and Manchester.

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Back-To-School
Back-To-School

From left: Danielle Coward, tTech Limited human resource coordinator; Samantha Jones, sales and marketing associate; and Gillian Murray, marketing manager at a back-to-school donation drive at the Yallahs High School in St Thomas.

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Pineapples
Pineapples

A representative from the Annotto Bay Fire Station shows off her freshly picked JP St Mary’s pineapple alongside JP St Mary’s Assistant Depot Manager Simone Saunderson during a handover of care packages with the vitamin C-rich fruit to the Fire Brigade. The donation by JP St Mary’s is part of an overall initiative to encourage essential workers to eat healthy foods to boost their immune systems.

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Jamalco Scholarships
Jamalco Scholarships

Cherrise Martin, student at the University of Technology, accepts her scholarship confirmation letter from Managing Director of Jamalco Austin Mooney. Jamalco has awarded some J$13 million in scholarships, bursaries and assistance with back-to-school items to early childhood, primary, high school and tertiary level students in Clarendon and Manchester.

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Call centres inject jobs, cash

The number of jobs in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector increased by 15 per cent over the past year, with 44,000 people employed in the sector as of June 30, 2021.

This compares to the corresponding period in 2020, which saw 38,400 persons being employed. Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Aubyn Hill said this increase in jobs happened despite the economy shrinking by over 10 per cent during the same period.

“I am extremely pleased to tell Jamaicans that in the year to June 30, 2021, the BPO Services sector brought in US$780 million to the Jamaican economy. That’s no small sneeze (during) a time when our economy was shrinking,” he said.

Health facilities to spend less on energy

The Government is projected to save an estimated $54 million annually from the installation of solar energy and energy efficiency systems at six public health facilities across Jamaica.

These are National Chest Hospital, Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre and Bellevue Hospital in St. Andrew; Black River Hospital, St. Elizabeth; May Pen Hospital, Clarendon; and the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland.

The installation was done under the Deployment of Renewable Energy and Improvement of Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector project, which was officially handed over to the Government of Jamaica in June. The project started in 2016 and was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi-Country Office over five years through a US$1,254,687 grant from the Global Environment Facility.

It sought to advance a low-carbon development path and reduce Jamaica’s public-sector energy bill through the introduction of renewable energy and improvement in energy efficiency in the health sector.

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Jamaica strengthens its traffic ticketing system

As part of efforts to bolster efficiency and effectiveness in the enforcement of the road traffic rules while restoring public order, the Government is implementing a new traffic ticket management system.

The system is a centralised web-based platform, designed to improve traffic ticket management from the point of issuance to either the payment of fines at tax offices or adjudication in court.

Through the project, smart android devices and portable printers will be used to facilitate the electronic issuance of traffic tickets.

The devices will allow for electronic recording of tickets, eliminating the need for manual data entry, and give police officers the ability to reference driver and vehicle information, including ticket history, outstanding tickets, and warrants.

All traffic tickets issued with the devices will instantly be uploaded to a centralised database, which is accessible by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the traffic courts and all other government agencies that depend on accurate, timely traffic ticket information to fulfil their mandates.

Senior Director, Major Technology Transformation Branch at the Ministry of National Security, Arvel Grant, said the pilot phase of the programme will come to an end during the summer.

30,000 elders to benefit from new pension scheme

It is estimated that more than 30,000 persons will benefit from the Government’s new Social Pension Programme, according to the Project Director for the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education.

The Social Pension Programme targets all Jamaican citizens 75 years and older who are not currently in receipt of a pension, retirement, old-age or disability benefit or income and are not living in a government institutionalised care facility and are generally described as vulnerable.

To register for this benefit, persons may visit the parish offices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security islandwide.  They will be required to complete a social pension application form, accompanied by their Tax Registration Number (TRN), proof of age in the form of a birth certificate or a valid passport.

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