SHARING THE LOVE: Deaf Optimist Club

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 May 8, 2022
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

Portmore in St Catherine positioned as the Silicon Valley of Jamaica

New state-of-the-art business process outsourcing (BPO) office spaces at the Portmore Informatics Park in St. Catherine are now operational.

Constructed by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), the additional buildings, comprising 157,000 square feet, complement the 50,000 square feet that previously existed, increasing the Authority’s BPO space in Portmore by 300 per cent.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the development is in furtherance of the Government’s priority to support the global services sector “and more importantly, it aligns with our strategic objectives to develop Jamaica’s newest parish and to enable its citizens to thrive”.

“This development also includes the upgrading of the original areas and buildings and overall space created for parking and… the four three-storey buildings have already been leased to four companies and currently have over 2,000 employees in place supporting banking and finance, air travel, electronics retail, healthcare telecommunications, e-commerce, and energy,” the Prime Minister informed.

He noted that Portmore is ideal for BPO developments, as it has the highest concentration of university graduates in Jamaica and is, therefore, ready to tap into the knowledge economy through this industry, adding that Portmore is also “well-positioned to become the Silicon Valley of Jamaica”.

“That is why I have supported and encouraged the Port Authority and other private-sector companies to build these facilities, so that you can start to now really create the knowledge economy in Portmore,” the Prime Minister said.

He argued that while the BPO sector has challenges, “the truth is that it is the fastest growing employment-creation business in Jamaica, and regardless of the complaints, it is putting income in the pockets of over 52,000 Jamaicans; it is creating a basis and a ladder for progress, promotion and prosperity, so I want to give my full endorsement to the BPO sector”.

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All set for Spanish Town Hospital upgrade

Work is set to begin on a major expansion initiative at the Spanish Town Hospital early next year.

“I am pleased to advise that the tender for the Spanish Town Hospital will be in the public domain in May 2022. Based on Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) procurement procedures, it is anticipated that we should have engaged a contractor by the end of the calendar year and work should commence early in 2023,” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

The expansion of the hospital is being facilitated under a US$50 million IDB project.

In November 2021, Dr. Tufton presented the designs for three hospitals and 10 health centres that will be financed under this loan facility.

The investment at Spanish Town Hospital will see the creation of an accident and emergency wing with ambulatory and ambulance bay, triage, and consulting rooms; patient wards and, among other things, lounge, and lunch areas; a radiology department pharmacy and outpatient department; a surgical floor and patient wards; a basement area that includes staff parking, and a sky bridge that links the existing administration and dietary blocks.

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Minister tackles backlog in estate cases

The Administrator-General’s Department (AGD) intends to close a minimum of 600 cases over the next year, with specific focus on backlog cases.

The AGD is charged with protecting the interests of minors, beneficiaries and creditors through the efficient and effective administration and management of assets of those who have died intestate, that is without leaving a will.

Over the last 10 years, the Department closed 5,600 cases, while 3,470 new cases were taken on. This resulted in a net reduction of 2,130 cases. More than 4,000 backlog estates were included in the closures.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said that over the past two years the Department has trained and developed a team of specialist attorneys-at-law who are tasked with administering backlog estates.

During the 2021/2022 period, the AGD transferred assets to beneficiaries and closed 425 estates. There are currently 5,200 cases in administration, of which 3,000 have no minor beneficiaries. “We project to close these cases within the next three to five years,” said the Minister.

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Grant programme to aid household helpers

About 50 female domestic workers are to benefit from small entrepreneurship grants under a partnership between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The first five beneficiaries have received their cheques. The support will enable participants to engage in formal business activities that generate additional income to supplement their livelihood and ultimately reduce their economic vulnerability.

They will also benefit from basic training through the Ministry’s Education and Entrepreneurships Grants Programme.

Permanent Secretary Colette Roberts Risden informed that the grant agreement with the ILO was signed in 2020, just before the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “It is indeed an achievement for us to see this initiative finally get off the ground,” she said.

More than 45,000 female domestic workers in Jamaica are engaged in informal work, and they have been among the hardest hit during the various waves of the pandemic, to date.

Make your ideas earn for you, Jamaicans urged

Jamaicans are being encouraged to turn their creative ideas into innovations that can generate economic activity and contribute to development.

“We are a group of smart creative people [but] if you are not translating your creations into a product or service that someone is paying for, then it doesn’t count as innovation,” said Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Dr. Charah Watson.

“While it is good that we continue to be creative, we want to reach to a point of innovation, which is a critical tool for our national development,” she stressed.

She noted that the SRC is a critical resource centre in the generation of intellectual property (IP) and products that can lead to economic activities.

The Promise of South African Democracy

By Evan Lieberman

BOSTON – At a time when many democracies are under threat, it is important to highlight the success stories. South Africa may not be the first country that comes to mind as a model democracy, but it should be. In the 28 years since apartheid ended in 1994, South Africa has developed a multiracial, pluralistic form of government that includes a multiparty parliament, independent judiciary, free press, robust civil society, and a broad social safety net.

One could easily assume the opposite. International press coverage of South Africa is often dominated by stories of violent crime and government corruption, giving much of the world a warped view of the country. And some local observers have gone so far as to label South Africa a “failed state.” But while South Africa certainly has its problems, the country looks nothing like actual failed states. Moreover, we would do well to remember where the country started almost 30 years ago.

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