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News for Week of June 13, 2021
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Honour for front-line workers in Jamaica

A special medal to recognise front-line workers of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is to be commissioned by the Government of Jamaica.

Culture, Gender, entertainment and Sport Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, made the disclosure earlier this month while speaking in Parliament. “As we continue to show appreciation, I have been asked by the Minister of Health and Wellness to commission a special medal to recognise the dedicated service of our heroes on the front line in the fight against COVID,” said the minister. “We believe it is fitting that we make this special award to those who have given great service to our nation during this pandemic.”

Added Grange, “I use this opportunity to pay maximum respect to our frontline workers who work so hard to keep us safe and healthy during this pandemic.”

Minister Grange said details for this are being finalised for Cabinet.

She further noted that the funds raised through ‘Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand’, achieved its objective of funding the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for frontline workers, adding that $60 million was collected through the fund-raising effort.

Carib Cement committed to corporate social responsibility.

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High praise for big agriculture investment

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green has hailed operators of the St. Catherine-based Model Agricultural Production Limited, for investing more than US$2.5 million in farming.

During a tour of the farm in Innswood, Mr. Green said the entity is reaping success from a significant investment and high-tech cultivation. “I am very happy that we are here celebrating a success in your productivity levels for your onion,” he said, pointing out that the company has almost one 100 acres of land in the production of onion, scallion, pumpkin, and will shortly put another 50 acres in the growing of sweet potatoes.

“What we are seeing here is part of Government’s policy initiative to ensure that we facilitate agricultural investments. We believe in agriculture, and we know that if one makes serious investments in agriculture, the returns will come,” he pointed out.

The Minister said he is pleased with the knowledge transfer that the company is providing to the farming sector from Israeli technology. “That is what we want to see. It is not just about providing land to be used for agriculture, the critical part is that the land must be used, and we want to see all lands earmarked for farming contracted to investors at the quickest possible time,” said the agriculture minister.

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‘Don’t be fixated on getting employees back into the workplace’

President of the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation Wayne Chen has called for employers to embrace flexible and remote work in order to become more productive and globally competitive, and to design a system to measure employee output when they operate outside of the workplace.

“We have a psychological hang-up in Jamaica about control, so that change in mindset will have to take place before we can get the full benefits of any change in legislation and regulation to flexible working arrangements,” he said.

Mr. Chen noted that although the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced businesses to employ remote work, many still have not embraced the opportunities created by the new normal, and are fixated on getting employees back into the workplace or office.

Their primary concern, he said, is related to the productivity of workers while they operate from home, and is recommending that businesses implement systems to measure output.

“There are progressive companies that quickly embraced remote work, but for every story like that we have the story where the head of a department or a chief executive officer asks for all the workers to come back out as soon as the Government eases the COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr. Chen noted.

“And the answer is that many managers have still not yet put in place a system where they can actually measure output.  We have really wasted, in many instances, a year because without the measurement, they are not confident it (work) is done,” he pointed out.

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Alpha Institute
Alpha Institute

Massy Distribution and the Quaker Cook-off champion, Romario White (2nd left), and Felicia Stephens (centre), brand manager, Massy Distribution, hand over food and personal-care products to the Alpha Institute, to Principal Donaldson (right). Two students of Alpha Institute join in the occasion.

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Red Stripe
Red Stripe

Chelsea Thomas Benoit (centre), brand manager at Red Stripe, congratulates Melissa-Kim Dunkley (left), and host of the Marketing Meet Up, Joel Nomdarkham, after winning the Red Stripe Marketing Meet-Up Pitch Competition. He received a grant valued at $50,000.

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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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Alpha Institute
Alpha Institute

Massy Distribution and the Quaker Cook-off champion, Romario White (2nd left), and Felicia Stephens (centre), brand manager, Massy Distribution, hand over food and personal-care products to the Alpha Institute, to Principal Donaldson (right). Two students of Alpha Institute join in the occasion.

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Central bank head sees signs of growth in economy

Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor Richard Byles says there are signs of improvement in the economy.

He pointed to indicators related to employment and growth, among other areas impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking during the BOJ’s recent digital quarterly briefing, Mr. Byles said the latest data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicated an unemployment rate of 8.9 per cent as at January 2021, up 1.5 percentage points compared to the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

He noted, however, that this represents an improvement, relative to the 10.7 per cent recorded at October 2020.

“When account is taken of the seasonal patterns in employment, these statistics suggest that more than 25,000 jobs were restored between October 2020 and January 2021, following the approximately 40,000 jobs that were added between July and October last year,” the Governor pointed out.

Mr. Byles said the same pattern of improvement continues to be evident in the growth figures.

He said STATIN’s most recent growth data showed that domestic economic activity contracted by 8.3 per cent for the October to December 2020 quarter.

“Using the quarter over quarter change in the seasonally adjusted real gross domestic product (GDP), as reported by STATIN, the out-turn for the December quarter relative to the September quarter reflected a growth of 0.9 per cent,” he explained.

Press on with logistics hub, UK high commissioner to Jamaica urges

British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, has expressed confidence in the country to achieve the goal of becoming a global logistics hub.

Delivering an address at a Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) virtual summit, he cited his experience witnessing the successful implementation and growth of special economic zones in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

The High Commissioner emphasised that Jamaica, too, can experience exponential success. “It is with the benefit of seeing successes on the ground in these fast-growing economies that I have confidence in lending my support to what Jamaica wants to achieve as a logistics and business hub,” said Mr. Ahmad.

Commenting on Jamaica’s international partnership with the United Kingdom (UK), he underscored the UK’s commitment to the process for development. “In recent years, we have committed over $20 billion as part of our development assistance programme. Our strategy is to work in areas that will sustain growth and not lock Jamaica into perpetual dependence. In fact, Jamaica is on the path to sustainable growth,” Mr. Ahmad noted.

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