THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
SECURITY FORCES IN JAMAICA KILL 219 IN 2012—01/05/12
According to Terrence Williams, director of an independent panel investigating deaths associated with actions of Jamaican security forces, those forces killed a total of 219 individuals in 2012, nine more than they killed in 2011. Most of the killings involved police; one involved a soldier. Human rights groups have previously accused police in Jamaica of working in a culture of impunity.
JAMAICA MAY PASS LAW TO BAN DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GAYS—01/06/12
Mark Golding, Jamaica’s Minister of Justice, has indicated that the government may enact a law to ban anti-gay discrimination in response to pressure to accept “Western” concepts of human rights. Golding made his remarks in response to a report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which criticized Jamaica for its abuse of gay citizens. The report called for governmental measures to fight anti-LGBT hatred, which it agreed to do by signing the American Convention on Human Rights.
PRIME MINISTER SAYS 2012 WAS “NOT A PERFECT YEAR”—01/07/12
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller admitted that 2012 was not “perfect” in regard to progress on the nation’s fiscal position, but stated a commitment to pursuing sound macroeconomic policies as a way to improve the country’s slow pace of economic development. The remarks were made in the Prime Minister’s first address to the nation since her second swearing-in and before the Cabinet embarked on its fourth retreat since coming to power.
DEADLINE TO IMPROVE UDC SPURS ACTION—01/08/12
The board of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) faces a deadline of three months to clean up problems uncovered in 2012 by the Auditor General’s Department. A mandate was given to the board and management of the UDC after “widespread malfeasance” was discovered. The auditor’s findings have been challenged by Wayne Chen, who preceded K.D. Knight as board chair.
MAROON FESTIVAL SUFFERS LOW PARTICIPATION—01/09/12
The Accompong Maroon Celebrations in St. Elizabeth have been going on for the past 275 years, but critics say poor organization, crowd support and degradation of the Maroon culture over the years contributed to the poor turnout for the 2012 festival. While Colonel Ferron Williams prohibited the sale of non-cultural products by vendors in Accompong Town during the festival, vendors continued to sell such items. There was also a decrease in the number of foreign visitors to the celebrations due to Hurricane Sandy, and local support did not offset these losses.
HURRICANE SANDY WASTE TO BE USED FOR COMPOST, MULCH—01/10/12
Much of the shrubs and trees destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in the Corporate Area are being transformed into useful products by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). According to community relations manager Shauna Guthrie, most of the material will be processed into chips for use as compost or mulching by the Parks and Garden division. Some of these products could be made available for purchase by the public in the future.
10 DEAD IN FIRST 10 DAYS OF 2013 AT HANDS OF SECURITY FORCES—01/10/12
The Independent Commission of Investigations reports that Jamaican security forces killed ten people in the first ten days of 2013. Nine of the killings involved police officers, and one was committed by a soldier. The Commission is investigating each one of the incidents. However, officials noted that the number of major crimes dropped by seven percent in Jamaica in 2012, compared to 2011.
PRIMARY SCHOOL GETS NEW SANITARY FACILITIES—01/11/12
The Mount Rosser Primary and Infant School in St. Catherine will soon have modern sanitary facilities. The school is benefitting from efforts led by the past students’ association to replace pit latrines with modern facilities. Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education, took quick action and provided government assistance for the upgrade of the sanitary facilities at the school.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
MORE JAMAICANS JOIN CANADA FARM WORK PROGRAM—01/05/12
Jamaica’s Labor and Social Security Ministry reports that more Jamaicans obtained employment on Canadian farms in 2012 than in previous years. More than 100 farm workers are prepared to leave Jamaica for Canada to take these jobs. Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labor, addressed the group before their departure and noted the expansion of the Canadian Overseas Farm/Factories Program.
JAMAICAN LOOKS TO 2014 WINTER OLYMPICS IN RUSSIA—01/06/12
Canadian-born Jamaican Michael Williams, who grew up in Toronto, was inspired by the movie “Cool Runnings” and Jamaica’s bobsled team at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics to believe that he too could represent Jamaica at a future Olympics. Williams is setting his sights on skiing for a medal in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He started training in 2012 and qualified to represent Jamaica in the Giant Slalom at the Ski World Championships in Austria in February 2013, a stepping stone to the Olympic qualification. Williams, who will be in his mid-40s in 2014, is confident that he will qualify.
UK IMPOSES NEW VISA RULES ON JAMAICANS—01/10/12
The United Kingdom has decided that all Jamaican nationals who enter the UK must apply for visitor visas in order to enter the nation. Jamaicans will not be permitted through immigration without the required papers, says the Home Office, which touts the move as a method for reducing congestion at airports and decreasing the number of people who “abscond” while using temporary visas. Between January 2002 and June 2002, 150 Jamaicans absconded every month on temporary visas, the Home Office reported. The new policy is also cited as a way to reduce drug smuggling from Jamaica to the UK.
JAMAICAN “MEDIA GIANT” DIES IN BROOKLYN—01/11/12
Jamaican Eion “Dreadless Ras” Saunders died at the end of December 2012 at the age of 47 at a Brooklyn hospital. Saunders, a legendary independent television producer, writer, director, and host, was celebrated for his work in bringing news from the Caribbean into the mainstream media of New York City. Saunders’ legacy was characterized as a “treasure” of the Diaspora. Many New York residents of Caribbean origin appreciated his efforts at providing the news, an important service to the Caribbean community via his television program.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
OFFICIALS IN HAITI RENEW DUVALIER’S PASSPORT—01/05/12
MISSONI CEO ON PLANE MISSING NEAR VENEZUELA—01/06/12
NEW FINAL RULE ISSUED BY U.S. AIMS TO PROTECT FAMILIES—01/07/12
RAMPAUL INJURY PRECLUDES PLAYING IN CARIBBEAN T20—01/08/12
OAS EXAMINES CARIBBEAN HUMAN RIGHTS—01/09/12
PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED IN GRENADA, VOTE SCHEDULED—01/10/12
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
YACHTS REGISTERED IN JAMAICA GET SIMPLER TAX REGIME—12/29/12
The Cabinet of Jamaica approved the introduction of a yearly fee to replace the many fees currently levied on yachts registered in Jamaica. The action is intended to make the local registry more attractive to owners. Under the proposals, a yearly fee will replace existing customs duty, customs user fee, environmental fee, and General Consumption Tax charges on Jamaica-registered flags. This offers a streamlined regime for boat owners. For yachts under 25 feet long, registration and safety inspection fees are waived for the first two years of registration.
JAMAICA’S COCOA SECTOR TO BE REVITALIZED—12/30/12
A grant designed to provide support to a project aiding rural farmers in the specialty cocoa space in Jamaica to expand their business into high-value markets and global supply chains. The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank, approved a grant totaling $1,817,500 initially. The $2.5 million project will help the cocoa sector of Jamaica recovery by giving small farmers the chance to participate in the larger overall value chain and will be implemented by the JCFA, a nonprofit farmers’ organization. There are about 11,000 small farmers on the island who grow cocoa commercially on lands of under five acres.
JAMAICAN FARM WORKERS DEPART FOR CANADA—01/02/12
The first group of farm workers for 2013 is slated to leave Jamaica for Canada soon. Over 100 workers will be addressed by Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labor and Social Security, during an event at the Ministry’s Overseas Employment Services Sector prior to departure. The event marks continued efforts by the Ministry to take advantage of work opportunities outside of Jamaica and to expand the overseas farm and factory program that began over 40 years ago.
OWNERSHIP CHANGE AT SHELL JAMAICA—01/05/12
The sale of the local Shell dealership to Blue Equity has been finalized. The sale involves an undisclosed sum of money paid to the Rubis Group, a global energy firm that also controls most Chevron/Texaco operations in the Caribbean. The deal was closed at the end of 2012. Blue Equity obtained the Shell Jamaica dealership in January 2012 via a holding company, Antilles Group Ltd.
NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK JAMAICA TO RESTRUCTURE—01/09/12
The National Commercial Bank of Jamaica Ltd. (NCB) plans to establish a new holding company that will result in a share swap with its shareholders. The new entity will represent part of the regulatory requirements impacting all of Jamaica’s commercial banks. The NCB disclosed its plans in the latest update to a planned US$225 million IPO listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME WILL NOT CLOSE THE FUNDING GAP—01/10/12
The National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the social security system in Jamaica, projects that the gap between funds collected and those distributed in pensions will grow by an additional J$100 million, despite an increase in contributions that became effective on January 7, 2013. While contributions will increase by J$1.4 million, benefits will growth by J$1.5 billion. The contribution rate to the NIS and the National Insurance Fund remains at five percent, divided equally between employer and employee, but monthly contributions from domestic workers, voluntary contributions and self-employment will rise from J$50 to J$100 per week.
LIME TO FIRE ALMOST 100 WORKERS—01/11/12
Cable and Wireless in Barbados is citing losses as its reason to reduce the workforce by nearly 100 workers. The telecommunications firm, which operates under the LIME brand, plans to outsource its retail operations in order to improve its financial condition. According to Alex McDonald, managing director of LIME Barbados, the firm will fire about 97 employees, but create 48 new positions at the same time.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
CARIBBEAN-OWNED FIRM INTRODUCES AL 13 FOR IPHONES—01/06/12
CARIBBEAN CORAL PROTECTION GROUP LAUNCHED BY EPA—01/08/12
LIME PLANS NETWORK UPGRADE, SAYS MANAGING DIRECTOR—01/09/12
LIME WANTS NUMBER PORTABILITY—01/10/12
—————————————————–JAMAICAN ORIGINS OF POTTER’S FAIR MAINTAINED—01/06/12
The Association of Jamaican Potters (AJP) has held a yearly arts and crafts show for the past 20 years known as the Potter’s Fair. The event is one of the top arts events of the year, with collectors coming from all over the nation to visit the Fair during the holiday season. It attracts the finest of Jamaica’s potters, and many are now known overseas. The 23rd staging of the Fair continued to take pride in its “Jamaicanness,” said Margaret McGhie, AJP secretary, and focuses on locally produced works.
BACKLASH FOR BUSY SIGNAL FOR “ARTISTE” SONG—01/07/12
Busy Signal, the well-known dancehall artiste, is being criticized by Patrick “Roach” Samuels, producer, who says Busy Signal’s song “Artiste” is hypocritical. In the song, Busy Signal says that the music industry is rife with “impersonators.” Roach also says part of the song was aimed at him in his role as producer.
HAMMOND TO PERFORM AT SALUTE FRIDAY NIGHT—01/09/12
The Rebel Salute festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary at its new location at the Richmond Estate in St. Ann, and Beres Hammond has agreed to perform to the Friday night line-up at the 2013 festival. The festival is tagged “The Preservation of Reggae,” and will be held on Friday and Saturday, January 18 and 19, 2013. Hammond joins a heavy line-up that includes Tony Rebel, whose birthday is celebrated at the festival, Tarrus Riley, Marcia Griffiths, Shinehead, Lone Ranger, Rootz Underground, and Dre Island, among many others.
COLIN CHANNER TO LEAVE CALABASH LITERARY FESTIVAL—01/10/12
Colin Channer, the co-founder of Calabash Literary Festival, has resigned from the organization. With his departure, it is expected that the event will now become a biennial festival. The next staging of the event will be in 2014, said Justine Henzell, board member of Calabash. The decision to have a biennial schedule was made before Channer’s resignation, she said. The event has been held every year since 2001 in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth. Channer’s leaving was expected, as he said it was time for him to end his relationship with the event and to admire it “from afar.”
SUCCESS OF CARIBBEAN T20 HAILED BY WICB—01/07/12
The new West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) leader Michael Muirhead praised the role of the governing regional body in the Caribbean Twenty20 as the event launched. Muirhead, speaking at the opening ceremonies in Queen’s Park Oval, said the WICB spared no expense to ensure that the tournament would be very successful. The agency invested heavily in the T20 tournament, particularly in its television broadcast, which can be seen in color on ESPN. The tournament will run until January 20, 2013 and is hosted by Trinidad and St. Lucia
CHRIS GAYLE NOT PLAYING IN T20—01/09/12
Chris Gayle will not be playing for Jamaica in the Caribbean Twenty20 because selectors decided to leave him out of the squad after he said he would be available only if his Big Bash League franchise did not qualify in the Australia domestic T20 competition. The Sydney Thunder did not make it past the league stage, but under Caribbean T20 rules, Gayle cannot be added to Jamaica’s team unless one of its players is injured.
FRASER-PRYCE, USAIN BOLT WIN GOLDEN CLEATS AWARDS—01/10/12
Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, women’s 100-meter Olympic champion, were awarded the male and female Athlete of the Year awards at the Scotiabank-sponsored Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association Golden Cleats Awards ceremony. Glen Mills, Racers Track Club head coach, received the Coach of the Year Award as well.
JAMAICA RESCUES T20 WITH WIN OVER WINWARD ISLANDS—01/11/12
Jamaica’s cricket team rescued its Caribbean Twenty20 performance by winning over the Windward Islands team. Although Jamaica had not won in two matches and needed points, the team pulled together and defended 116 for six, obtaining a 12-run victory in the match.