SHARING THE LOVE: VTDI institute donates supplies to shelter
Five-minute feature on acts of kindness by local or overseas based non-government individuals and organisations that have benefitted Jamaicans.
Written and produced by the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service
News for Week of May 14, 2023
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.
Jamaicans told to embrace AI to aid efficiency
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill has said that Jamaicans should be prepared to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) as a new phenomenon, which, if properly managed, can be extremely useful.
AI is the ability of a computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly undertaken by humans.
Addressing the media and business stakeholders at the two-day Outsource2Jamaica conference at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in St. James, Senator Hill said that once policies are put in place, ensuring responsible use of the technology, then there should be very little problem in maximising its use throughout society.
“As this new technology comes it will provide challenges, but we’re smart enough to get together to find a way to manage it,” he said. “We must make sure we put controls so that it doesn’t run away from us. But what we’re going to do is make sure we work with it, get smart people to identify it, and the government clearly must be there to make policies.”
Addressing concerns that AI could put some jobs at risk, Senator Hill noted that similar arguments were also put forward with the advent of computers.
“When we got computers, people said they were going to replace people, and what computers did was make sure a lot of young people got smarter,” he pointed out. “Some older people got to use a technology they never knew and the whole economy grew. In fact, the last 30 to 40 years have been driven by the technology sector.”
St Thomas cops act to curb traffic accidents
Jolted by the recent spike in fatal collisions, the St. Thomas police have pledged to ramp up their presence on the main roads in the parish, especially as the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project progresses.
Speaking at the monthly sitting of the St. Thomas Municipal Corporation, Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of operations Oniel Thompson said that the division recorded three fatal collisions with five fatalities in the month of April, as opposed to one fatal collision with one fatality in the corresponding period of April 2022.
Year to date, a total of four fatal collisions with six fatalities have been recorded, compared to two fatal collisions with two fatalities for the 2022 corresponding period.
“What is happening here is that motorists are seizing the opportunity to… use the road which is not [yet] opened to get by quickly,” said Thompson. “The taxi men want to make their money, so as a result, they just speed to and fro, but our intention is to increase our presence on the main road.”
He added that as road work progresses, “a lot of the main road is now being paved and they are capitalising on that, so we are out there, and you can see the police out there”.
Furthermore, the Deputy Superintendent said commuters should hold the police accountable to this commitment, stating that, “if for any reason you drive from here (Morant Bay) to Kingston and you don’t see the police, we’d love for you to call us”.
The St. Thomas leg of the project takes into account the roads from Harbour View to Yallahs Bridge, Yallahs Bridge to Port Antonio, and Morant Bay to Cedar Valley.
More than 8.5 kilometres of the 14-kilometre, four-lane roadway from Harbour View in St. Andrew to Albion in St. Thomas have been completed, and this section of the project is on track to meet the new completion timeline of August this year.
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Prime Minister: Free public Wi-Fi isn't wasteful
About 1,500 residents from three communities in St. Andrew West Central now have greater access to the Internet. This follows the official commissioning into service of safe, secured community WI-FI in Tower Avenue, Cockburn Pen and Penwood.
The three sites, established by the Universal Service Fund (USF), were officially commissioned into service by Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for the area Andrew Holness on Thursday, May 11.
He was joined by the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz; Mayor of Kingston Senator Delroy Williams; Chief Executive Officer, USF, Daniel Dawes, and other stakeholders.
Prime Minister Holness said the Government remains committed to providing Internet access to Jamaicans and making the transition to a digital society. He urged the residents to use the facilities wisely for education and self-improvement.
“On the information highway are vehicles that can uplift us, elevate us, that can take us to places that make us better people, that can help us to fulfil our dreams and aspirations,” said the Prime Minister. “And so, the Government is interested in ensuring that every Jamaican can get access to the information highway, because information that you convert to knowledge that gives you wisdom, is power.”
He went on to declare that “it is not a waste of public resources to give every Jamaican citizen, as much as we can, access to the Internet”.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government is spending millions of dollars to boost public access to Wi-Fi in urban and high-trafficked areas, as well as communities.
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Pay your property tax, urges local government boss
Jamaicans are being encouraged to pay their property taxes to ensure effective and efficient delivery of solid-waste management services.
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), through funding from the Parochial Revenue Fund (property tax), provides the public cleansing services of sweeping and residential collection of solid waste.
“The question of property tax [has become] more and more important. That is why we are encouraging Jamaicans to pay their property taxes because the benefits go towards garbage collection and streetlights,” said Local Government and Rural Development Minister Desmond McKenzie.
“It is the property tax that is used to pay the NSWMA. The solid waste budget is close to $10 billion, and we have not been able to provide that amount and we are not collecting $10 billion for property taxes,” he said.
Minister McKenzie was responding to callers during the Nationwide News Network (NNN) radio segment ‘Ask the Minister’ on Tuesday, May 9.
Meanwhile, the Minister noted that 50 additional waste-disposal trucks will be acquired as part of measures to improve the NSWMA’s operations. They will add to the 50 new trucks that were handed over in December.
“The process for the additional 50 trucks has commenced, so we will, by the downside of this year, have the additional 50 trucks, and there are other new facilities that we will introduce to improve solid-waste management and garbage collection and make the [country] much cleaner,” he said.
The Authority’s primary services include the collection and disposal of residential solid waste and providing sweeping services for major town centres and roadways. It also provides solid waste haulage services to businesses.
The NSWMA manages disposal sites in Portland, St. Ann, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. James, St. Elizabeth, and Manchester.
$200m expansion, an investment in the small farmers, says businessman
The almost $200-million expansion of Best Dressed Chicken’s Cumberland Hatchery in Portmore is being hailed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr., as a major boost for the agriculture sector.
The expansion increases the hatchery’s capacity by 70 per cent, allowing the company to better meet the demands of the local market and, particularly, small poultry farmers, by ensuring a steady supply of baby chicks.
Among the upgrades to the facility are the addition of four new setters and two new hatchers as well as improvements to the general infrastructure.
The facility, which provides for the hatching of eggs in a safe, controlled environment, now features improved temperature control, ventilation and air flow management in keeping with the requirements of a modern hatchery operation, while helping to preserve biosecurity.
Speaking at the reopening ceremony on Wednesday, May 10, Minister Charles Jr., said the Jamaica Broilers Group, which is the parent organisation of Best Dressed Chicken, continues to be a “primary strategic partner” with a “long and rich history” of assisting small farmers across Jamaica.
“This expansion is part of the response to the call for us to continue to innovate and to introduce the kind of technology that will push Jamaica forward,” he said.
Noting the uncertainties over the last few years, the Minister said that “had it not been for companies like Jamaica Broilers, had it not been for our strategic relationships that we could lean on, I don’t think that Jamaica would be able to say as a nation that we have not just recovered but recovered stronger.”
Affirming that the poultry sector is a significant provider of jobs for many Jamaicans, he encouraged Jamaica Broilers to continue making strides and to push the ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ narrative.
He added that the Agriculture Ministry, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has also been providing resources to poultry farmers, particularly through the National Broiler Programme and the Production Incentive Programme.
For his part, Group President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Broilers Group, Christopher Levy, said that the upgrade is an investment in the small farmers of the country, who represent 30 per cent of the production of poultry meat in Jamaica. “It’s done by roughly 200,000 small farmers across the island, mostly women, mostly for a second income,” he pointed out.
Central Banks’ Day of Reckoning Is Here
By Jürgen Stark
TÜBINGEN – As energy prices continue to decline and the base effect of last year’s price increases takes hold, inflation rates across the Western world are expected to fall. Even so, prices will likely remain unacceptably high for the foreseeable future, making true price stability a distant prospect.
Moreover, rising wages and ongoing geopolitical tensions, together with long-term structural factors such as demographic trends and deglobalization, are expected to keep inflation expectations above central-bank targets, burdening Western economies and societies in the long run.