THIS WEEKS NEWS SUMMARY
GOVERNMENT ENVISIONS JAMAICA AS FIRST WORLD COUNTRY IN 10 YEARS – 12/18/04
This week Foreign Affairs Minister K.D. Knight said the vision of the government was that Jamaica would shed it s’ Third World status for a First World status in the next 10 years. Mr. Knight made these comments while addressing reporters at a press conference at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade while giving an update on his ministry’s achievements this year and objectives for next year.
SANDALS AND RIU AGREE TO BEAUTIFICATION AND IMPROVEMENT IN NEGRIL – 12/18/04
This week Sandals and Riu Hotels, two of its largest hoteliers in Negril, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to maintain two miles of verge on the Norman Manley Boulevard. They agreed to ensure the beautification and improvement of the areas closest to their hotels at a cost of $1.2 million annually. The venture is an initiative of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) ‘Adopt-An-Area’ project and Negril is the first resort town to collaborate on the effort. The next area slated for beautification is the South Coast; thereafter the project will be implemented in the other resort towns. Visiting tourists are turned off by the “unappealing appearance” of Jamaica’s resort towns, according to information that has come to the attention of tourism officials from one of Jamaica Tourist Board’s surveys.
AMBASSADOR BERNAL RECOGNIZED BY BRAZIL – 12/20/04
Ambassador Richard Bernal, director-general of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), was presented this week with the Order of Rio Branco, one of Brazil’s highest national honors. He was recognized by Brazil for his outstanding work in trade negotiations to establish the Free Trade Area of the Americas and at the World Trade Organization. He is the first Jamaican to receive the award,
ONR RECEIVES DONATATION FROM SPAIN AND CANADA – 12/20/04
The governments of Canada and Spain donated funds to the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) for post-Hurricane assistance. Canada’s donation totaled CDN$1.8 million and Spain donated $250,000 Euro. The money from Canada, which is being disbursed through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will go towards the recovery of the agricultural sector, primarily fisheries, while the allocation from Spain will be used for the wider post Ivan reconstruction effort.
IMPORTERS WILL NOW REQUIRE CLEARANCE FROM SIA 12/21/04
Roger Clarke, the agriculture minister, announced this week that all manufacturers who do their own importation of refined sugar will now be required to get clearance from the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA). Mr. Clarke said the sugar import rule is being modified because of abuses with the duty-free scheme and that greater attention would be paid to ensure that all other importers of sugar paid the full duties.
SENATE AUTHORIZED FIVE CSME BILLS – 12/21/04
The Senate this week authorized five Bills, which will enable Jamaica to participate in the first phase of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2005. Justice Minister and Attorney General, Senator A.J. Nicholson who piloted the Bills, said their passing fulfilled Jamaica’s commitment to early implementation of the Single Market, a decision also taken by Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. The remaining member states are set to implement their CSME regulations by December 2005. The five Bills – ‘The Caribbean Community Establishment, Services, Capital and Movement of Community Nationals Act 2004’, ‘The Professional Engineers Registration Act’, ‘The Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act’, ‘The Architect Registration Act’ and the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act’ – speak to the free movement of goods, capital and people.
JPS OVERCHARGE – 12/22/04
This week Director-General of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) J. Paul Morgan disclosed that the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has admitted to issuing abnormal electricity bills to about 130,000 customers. Mr. Morgan, who was speaking at a press briefing held at the OUR’s New Kingston offices said “The JPS has told us that just about 130,000 customers have had some abnormality in their bills”. He said. “Of that 130,000, they tell us that about 33,000 have experienced high bills so one would assume that the 100,000 or so would have experienced low bills.”
AMERICAN AMBASSADOR COBB WILL IN TENURE IN FEB 2005 – 12/22/04
American ambassador Sue Cobb says her tenure as ambassador to Jamaica will end on February 1, 2005. Ms. Cobb said “she has pleasant memories of the island, despite a bitter diplomatic quarrel between Washington and Kingston just before the US invaded Iraq early last year”.
GOVERNMENT TAKES BACK AIR JAMAICA 12/23/04
This week at a formal at a press conference Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies announced the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart-led Air Jamaica Acquisition Group (AJAG) signed over its 75 per cent ownership share back to the government, bringing the national airline back under state ownership after a 10-year hiatus. As a part of the deal AJAG will pump US$20 million (J$1.2 billion) into the troubled airline to help with working capital and to write-down debt. The Government, at the same time, is expected to back up to US$25 million in new loans to the airline as part of a restructuring plan. Mr. Davis also announced the major restructuring of the operations of national carrier Air Jamaica, which will involve the appointment of an interim board to oversee operations until June 2005. Mr. Davies said the decision to restructure comes in the wake of recommendations by international airline consultants, Sabre Airline Solutions, which identified six critical operations-related areas that must be restructured, from which expense savings of approximately US$32 million can be realized in 2005 and subsequent years. The areas slated for restructuring are: fuel conservation, maintenance and engineering, aircraft lease arrangements, crew and staff remuneration and network/route rationalization.
JAMAICA MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE FEB 01 – 12/23/04
This week Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley, announced that the new national minimum wage will be implemented on February 1, 2005. Mr. Dalley stated that the increase was a little more than 11.5 per cent.
24 POLICE STATIONS TO BE REPAIRED BY GOV’T – 12/23/04
Security Minister Peter Phillips announced this week that the government is to spend $50 million over the next two months to repair 24 police stations across the island that were damaged during the passage of Hurricane Ivan this past September. Mr. Philips stated that work on the facilities will commence within the next two weeks.
BUTCH STEWART OFFERS ADVICE ON AIR JA- 12/24/04
After exiting Air Jamaica earlier in the week Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart declared “mission accomplished” in building a world-class carrier and an economic key player for Jamaica, despite the financial turbulence in which the airline has flown. He offered a bit of advice for the new managers: in any restructuring to cut costs, they had to be extremely careful in retreating from the routes and markets that Air Jamaica has created over the past decade. “Be careful how you give up routes,” Stewart said at a press conference. “I would encourage Air Jamaica to be courageous, to open new routes and to be pushing forward.”
WALKERSWOOD FOR JSE – 12/24/2004
Privately owned company Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, makers of the famous jerk seasonings, has said its intention to list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) within five years. Managing Director Woodrow Mitchell said this week, “We are committed to providing wealth creation for our staff and other related parties.” Recently Canadian billionaire Raymond Chang, head of CI Mutual Funds in Canada, has also invested in the company to help modernize its manufacturing processes.
BOYZ ADVANCE IN DIGICEL CUP – 12/20/2004
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz team defeated St Lucia 2-1 in the second leg of their quarter-final Digicel Caribbean tie at the National Stadium yesterday. The win gives Jamaica a 3-2 aggregate advantage after drawing the first leg 1-1 in St Lucia. Jamaica will now face French Guiana in a home-and-away series on January 9 and 16. Jamaica took the lead with just 40 seconds on the clock when a Luton Shelton cross found Roland Dean who had an easy task of tapping home the first goal. St. Lucia fought back and found the equalizer in the 23rd minute with a goal from Titus Elva. St Lucia continued to pressure Jamaica in the second half but in the 66 minute the Boyz went ahead courtesy of a curling 25-yard free-kick from Harbour View’s midfield maestro Jermaine Hue.
JEFFREY DUJON NAMED CRICKER COACHING DIRECTOR – 12/23/04
This week Jeffrey Dujon, former Jamaica captain, West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman and former assistant coach to the West Indies team, was appointed the country’s first national coaching director. He will manage the Jamaica Cricket Association’s panel of coaches and will be responsible for revamping present programs and introducing new programs aimed at achieving consistency in coaching at all levels of the game.
View more in sports at www.thereggaeboyz.com