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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the weeks ending February 25, 2005

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THIS WEEKS NEWS SUMMARY
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JLP STAGE SUCCESSFUL CONFERENCE

Bruce Golding was officially crowned party leader at the Jamaica Labour Party ( JLP ) bilated but successful annual conference last Sunday February 20, 2005. With thousands of jubilant party supporters jamming the national arena the new leader, Mr Bruce Golding, was formally endorsed by the delegates and gave his acceptance speech. Mr Golding succeedes Mr Seaga, who had served for three decades in the job. Despite his indignant statement released Saturday evening that he would not attend, Mr. Seaga decided to attend the conference afterall and received with a rousing reception from party supporters at the National Arena.

US TO CUT H2B PROGRAM

Hundreds of Jamaicans working under the United States-sponsored H2B program in thefood service, hospitality and tourism are reacting with awe to a decision by the US Department of Homeland Security to enforce a long neglected cap on the number of workers involved in that program. Barrington Bailey, senior director of Manpower Services in the Ministry of Labour says the George W. Bush-led administration announced last month that they intend to enforce the annual cap of 66,000 workers. The Jamaican component of that programme now stands at 3,900 workers in hotels across more than half of the 50 American states.

JPS CUT ELECTRICY OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

Several Government agencies were left in the dark for several hours yesterday when their electricity supplies were disconnected by the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), for nearly $69 million in outstanding bills. Tthe Supreme and Family courts in downtown Kingston, the Elletson Road police complex and the traffic and repairs division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force at Swallowfield, St. Andrew were among those sites affected. The Supreme Court’s electricity bill stands at $25 million. The police owe a little over $20 million, $2.5 million of which is owed by the Elletson Road Police Complex which houses several police departments.

JAMAICA FORECAST BUMPER SPRING BREAK

Over 20,000 spring breakers are expected to arrive in the island over the next six weeks for the 2005 spring break season. Tourism officials expect that this year’s season will rake in revenues of over US $25 million. The first 100 students arrived at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay last Saturday afternoon with another 700 slated to arrive by the end of the day.

AIR JAMAICA SEEKS GOVERNMENT BAIL OUT

Executive Chariman of Air Jamaica Dr. Vin Lawrence disclosed on Thursday that the government is contemplating writing off US$398 million (J$24.7 billion) of the whopping US$847 million (J$52.5 billion) the airline accumulated in losses when under private ownership. Dr. Lawrence said the airline’s restructuring team has already made the submission to Cabinet, which, according to him, has expressed a willingness to consider it. Government is considering converting US$398 million of debt that Air Jamaica owes the state into equity.

PNP PREPARES FOR WEST KINGSTON CHALLENGE

The People’s National Party, PNP has begun preparations to select a candidate to challenge Bruce Golding for the vacant West Kingston seat. The crucial by-election is important to Mr. Golding as he needs to win to gain a seat in the House of Representatives and assume the position of Opposition Leader.The JLP has stated that it wants the by-election held by March so that Mr. Golding will be in Parliament when the Budget Debate opens in April.

JDF TO ASSUME GREATER ROLE IN CRIME FIGHTING OFFENSIVE

Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel could soon be called on to assist the police in a more permanent way in the fight against crime and violence, says Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Addressing board members of Guardsman Group Limited, Mr. Patterson said he was awaiting the results of a review of the entire JDF by local and Canadian experts before a decision is taken. The Prime Minister said what may become the JDF’s new mission will impact on the training and the deployment of its 3,640 members.The results from the review are expected in April.

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SPORTS
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REGGAE BOYZ WIN CARIBBEAN CUP

The Reggae Boyz downed Cuba 1-0 at the National Stadium in Barbados to clinch the Digicel Caribbean Cup title and a cash prize US$100,000 (J$6.1 million). A 47th minute strike from Luton Shelton saw the Jamaicans emerge form the four-team competition with three wins from as many games and a safe hold on their No. 1 raking in the region. Jamaica and Cuba both qualified for the Gold Cup tournament, which starts in the United States on July 6-24.

SUNSHINE GIRLS STRIKE BACK

Jamaica’s Young Sunshine Girls evened up their three-game Under-21 netball friendly series against New Zealand with a 43-40 victory last night at the National Indoor Sports Centre. Romelda Aiken led Jamaica’s scoring with 28 goals from 30 attempts after lifting her team from an eight-all first quarter to a 21-14 lead in the second.

VERONICA CAMPBELL CLOCKS SIZZLING TIME

Jamaican double olympic gold medallist Veronica Campbell ran the sixth fastest indoor time ever, a personal best 22.38 seconds, to win the women’s 200m at the Norwich Union grand prix in Birmingham last Friday.Campbell, who bettered her indoor time of 22.39 seconds, finished more than a second ahead of Russia‚Äôs Nataya Antyukh.

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Written by Staff Writer