SHARING THE LOVE: Pell River Primary gets new Library

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 October 9, 2022
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

MP touts agri taskforce to support farmers

Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Northeastern, Kerensia Morrison, says a constituency taskforce on agriculture will be established. Speaking in the State of the Constituency debate in the House of Representatives, she said that the taskforce will be highly responsive to the concerns of the farmers and provide training in best practices.

“I was very encouraged last week when the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries advised me that there were constituencies which, based on their profile for agriculture, will be given specific and targeted focus. I am looking forward to these programmes that will educate farmers on greenhouse [production] and the use of technology,” she said.

Morrison said that agriculture is the economic backbone of Northeastern St. Catherine. “I thank the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for their support to our farmers by ensuring that they get registered and also by providing our farmers with technical support,” she said.

The Member of Parliament told the House that farmers in the constituency have benefited from the recent launch of an onion and potato programme by the Ministry. The Government is investing $200 million in the national Irish potato and onion programme, to increase the hectares under production and to improve yields of these crops.

The sum of $150 million has been allocated for the Irish potato programme, while $50 million will be invested in onion production. The initiative has created approximately 40,000 employment opportunities within the sector.

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Jamaica’s economic performance better than planned, says finance minister

Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicate that the country is on track to returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of economic output by 2023. Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr. Nigel Clarke said that achieving the target will place Jamaica “far ahead of our peers in the Caribbean region”.

“We are at 97 per cent of our pre-COVID levels of economic output. We went all the way down to 82 per cent, [but are] back up to about 97 per cent. [This] is related to the fact that we were able to maintain macro stability through the crisis,” said the minister.

Minister Clarke said that gross domestic product (GDP) data from the STATIN show that the economy is “performing better than planned”. STATIN reported that the economy grew by 4.8 per cent during the April to June 2022 quarter, relative to the corresponding period last year.

This was attributed to a 7.2 per cent increase in the services’ industry, despite the goods producing industry contracting by two percentage points.

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Coding, robotics training for prisoners

Beginning this month, inmates of the South Camp Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre will begin a course in coding and robotics. This will be facilitated by the Department of Correctional Services, in collaboration with local education firm STEAMHouse Network.

The department’s Deputy Commissioner Dr. Marc Thomas made the disclosure at the handover ceremony for ICT devices donated to the institution by e-Learning Jamaica (e-LJam), on Tuesday, October 4.

Dr. Thomas said the institution will be placing greater focus on introducing science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects into the academic programmes at the institution.

“We have answered the Prime Minister’s call to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics by introducing right here at South Camp, this month, a course in coding and robotics,” he said.

Dr. Thomas argued that the introduction of these disciplines will better equip the young persons for jobs of the future.

Currently, the department provides a wide variety of academic programmes. These include remedial reading, mathematics, social studies, art and craft, music, and English.

At the CSEC level, there are English, mathematics, history, accounts, social studies, principles of business, principles of accounts, office administration, electronic document preparation, human and social biology, and geography.

“Over the past couple of years, we have celebrated passes between 62 and 69 per cent. At this point, 100 per cent of our juveniles are engaged in academic and vocational studies, primarily because it is mandatory and hundreds of adults join voluntarily in an academic or vocational class or two,” he said.

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Frontier Airlines to add more flights to Montego Bay

Come February 2023, Frontier Airlines will begin non-stop seasonal flights from the United States cities of Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois to Sangster International Airport in St. James.

Senior Manager of International Sales at Frontier William Evans, “Everyone has welcomed us with open arms. The love that you give us, it is truly ‘one love Jamaica’ and I know that’s how we feel, and I know that everyone at headquarters in Denver are very excited, and we look forward to just huge growth and opportunity well into the future.”

Mr. Evans said that flights from St. Louis will start on February 23 and will be three times per week, at an introductory cost of US$139; flights from Denver, which begin on February 24, will be three times per week at an introductory rate of US$149; and flights from Chicago begin on February 25, and will be once per week at a rate of US$139.

Operation Birthright targets disabled persons

More than 30,000 disabled persons living below the poverty line are expected to benefit from Operation Birthright. Under the initiative, being implemented through the National Identification System (NIDS), in partnership with the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), these individuals who do not have a copy of their birth certificate will be provided with a copy free of cost.

Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities Dr. Christine Hendricks said the Council has been working with NIDS since 2017, to ensure that as it rolls out the national identification system, persons with disabilities will not be left behind. “As part of that process, in addition to the identification system, and the identification cards that would be provided, there were quite a number of persons with disabilities who do not have a birth certificate, so the Council reached out to the team at NIDS to help facilitate persons with disabilities to get birth certificates,” Dr. Hendricks explained.

“Even to get an ID you will need a birth certificate, and many of our clients do not have that, and so do not have a Tax Registration Number (TRN) either,” she added. Dr. Hendricks pointed out that many persons, although there were in need, were not able to receive government benefits in the past and even in the recent past, for example COVID-19 grants.

The eligibility criteria under Operation Birthright are an applicant must be a Jamaican eligible under Jamaican laws to be entered into the civil status register, meaning he or she must be a born Jamaican; must be one year and older; and must be recommended by a person listed on the application form.

The applicant must have a monthly income of $37,000 or less – below the poverty line basically – which means he or she cannot afford or can hardly afford to pay for a birth certificate; and the applicant should not be receiving other sources of concurrent subsidy for similar services.

Individuals or their caregivers can access and download the application form at www.nidsfact.com\operation-birthright. The form, when completed, may be submitted to any RGD office across the island for processing. The forms are also available at the RGD offices.

The State is taking back energy

By Nick Butler

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LONDON – Although uncertainty prevails in today’s global energy market, one thing has become clear: Governments are reasserting their central role. The motive is pragmatic rather than ideological, and the details vary from one country to another, but the trend is unmistakable.

Governments of all political hues are taking back control of a market that had largely been left to private firms with only limited regulation. In many Western economies, this arguably represents the largest shift in the balance of public and private economic power since World War II.

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