SHARING THE LOVE: Kitson Town Free Healthcare

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 June 26, 2022
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

Bartlett pitches unity to strengthen Caribbean tourism

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett argues that a single-visa regime among CARICOM member countries should be the next critical consideration in rationalizing entry protocols in the region.

“[This is] for touristic purposes and can be provided for visitors coming into your space for 30 days or three days… a simple platform that allows everybody and anybody to apply for a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries,” suggested the minister.

Mr. Bartlett said the region needs to adopt a new approach to air transportation and develop new ideas about collaboration, using the support of today’s technology.

“Multi-destination tourism is part of the principle of co-petition, where we can offer to visitors coming into our space, multiple experiences across borders. So, when you buy Jamaica, you can get Barbados and you can get St. Lucia and you can get Turks and Caicos,” he added.

The Minister said the aim of the Ministry is to establish Jamaica as an aviation hub, “so that big planes coming from the far-flung areas can bring large numbers into our airports and they are distributed by airlines like inter-Caribbean across the Caribbean and elsewhere”.

For this, Mr. Bartlett is suggesting the establishment of preclearance arrangements within the Caribbean, so that arriving visitors in Jamaica are domestic in other countries of the region and vice versa.

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Jamaicans embrace online shopping experience

The Jamaica Productivity Centre is reporting that e-commerce and online shopping are flourishing among Jamaican consumers.

“There was increased productivity in every quarter last year in the wholesale and retail trade industry, with the last two quarters recording increases of 1.1 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively,” said Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda.

Capitalizing on this trend, the Minister said $5 billion has been allocated in this financial year, through the Development Bank of Jamaica, to finance micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), with solutions aimed at increasing e-commerce.

Mr. Samuda informed that this includes the installation of online payment and other e-commerce facilities, cross-border e-commerce and trading and digital food ordering.

In addition, the Minister noted that financial technology (FinTech) is already automating global finances.

“Locally, JAM-DEX is emerging as one of our digital Jamaican currencies, and more banking apps are being initialized and updated for convenient use. FinTech allows for efficient ease of transactions and, more importantly, for more Jamaicans to be incorporated into the formal banking system,” Mr. Samuda said.

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St Mary expects spike in growth options

New opportunities are expected to emerge for the parish of St. Mary following the recent inauguration of scheduled commercial flights into the Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel.

On Thursday, June 16, the airport welcomed an interCaribbean Airways flight from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

The flights are expected to occur once per month with a view to transition to once weekly. This is ahead of November’s planned commencement of flights from American Airlines into the port.

Member of Parliament for Western St. Mary, Robert Montague, said the area’s “excellent service, surrounded by wonderful people and great weather”, is marketable to international travellers and should create new developments in the parish.

“We want the people to come in here, so that all those houses surrounding us will get the Airbnb passengers, all of our shops and restaurants will get the business and our taxi operators will get the business,” he said, while addressing a welcome ceremony for the inaugural interCaribbean flight to the airport.

Mr. Montague noted that the development plan for the airport is to extend the building and construct shops.

As such, he is encouraging St. Mary residents to prepare themselves to take advantage of these structures and “make use of the opportunities that are open to them”.

“Do not be left out of this journey; go to the bank and start to put the money together to take one of the shops,” he urged.

Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary noted that “persons have already started to market their developments based on the proximity to the airport”.

“I can also say that I’ve received numerous calls from persons wanting to buy land in this area. It (the airport) will definitely push up our land value in St. Mary and it will assist us in terms of our general development,” the Mayor said.

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Digital parenting support gets endorsement

A new mobile messaging service dubbed ‘ParentText’ has been launched, providing another layer of support to Jamaican parents in becoming more effective in raising children.

The service, being executed under the United Nations Spotlight Initiative and funded by the European Union (EU), provides tips to parents and caregivers of children up to age 17 via text messages, audio and video clips.

The information is delivered through the popular mobile application, WhatsApp.

Speaking at the official launch at the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Caenwood Auditorium in Kingston, portfolio Minister Fayval Williams, said the service “is a welcome addition to the suite of resources available” to Jamaican parents.

“Research and studies confirm that many parents have to be guided and coached to be able to do a better job,” she pointed out.

She said that through the platform, it is hoped that more parents will “take their responsibilities seriously and become more directly involved in their children’s education and overall care”.

UNICEF Jamaica Representative, Mariko Kagoshima, said the launch of the service locally is in light of research, which indicates that 85 per cent of Jamaican children under 15 years old are being subjected to violent discipline at home.

“Parents need help to learn skills to better understand and deal with the challenges of parenting. These skills can help break the cycle of family violence or prevent it from happening,” she said.

The developers of ParentText Jamaica, which is currently in the pilot phase, are aiming for 1,000 sign-ups across four of the Spotlight Initiative parishes – Kingston and St Andrew, St. Thomas, Clarendon, and Westmoreland.

Persons can access the service by texting the word ‘PARENT’ to 876-838-4897 on WhatsApp.

This initiates an automated response with a series of basic questions that will lead to evidence-base advice and information in areas such as positive reinforcement, relationship building and child behaviour management.

The programme is supported by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Children First Agency, and the National Parenting Support Commission.

Target agri sector for investment, J’cans told

Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is encouraging diaspora members who have land in Jamaica to invest in agriculture and to incorporate technology in the sector to improve yields and remove the sector’s risk profile.

“If that is done in a strategic way, we will be very far ahead,” said Vice President of Marketing, JAMPRO, Gabriel Heron.

Participating in a panel discussion at the recent Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference, he pointed out that there are three main challenges in the sector that are now changing – consistency, capacity and vulnerability.

“Large supermarket chains overseas require consistent fresh produce, and so we must ensure that our farming mechanisms and processes generate consistency,” he suggested.

“We must also ensure that we can implement and create farms that have large economies of scale and improved yields,” said Mr. Heron.

Speaking to vulnerability, he noted that the changes in the weather, hurricanes and praedial larceny are among the challenges facing agriculture.

Mr. Heron argued that implementing agriculture technology (AgTech) will not only remove the risks that have been plaguing the sector but will also improve yields, capacity, and consistency.

Helping the 222 Million

By Yasmine Sherif

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GENEVA – The United Nations recently estimated that the number of crisis-affected children in need of urgent educational support has skyrocketed from 75 million in 2016 to 222 million today. That’s 222 million dreams dashed – and 222 million attacks on our collective humanity.

This worldwide coverage has called attention to a massive challenge that will only grow in scope and seriousness. Nowhere are cooling measures more urgent than in our cities, where streets, buildings, industries, and vehicles could increase temperatures by a catastrophic 4° Celsius by the end of the century, putting the world’s poorest people at highest risk.

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