THIS WEEKS NEWS SUMMARY
FORMER WASTE MANAGEMENT BOARD MEMBER SUPPORTS RESIGNATIONS – 4/3/05
After resigning in frustration nine months ago, Steve Khemlani, former deputy chairman of the board of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), agrees that some board members must go. Saying that some members bring nothing to the management of the NSWMA, Khemlani does not, however, support Opposition party calls for a wholesale dismissal of the board. Mr. Khenlani, who left the board over concerns of shoddy bookkeeping at the NSWA, an agency which has not submitted financial statements to the auditor-general for a second consecutive year, believes the executive chairmanship should be replaced by a managing director and chairman for greater transparency.
CALLS FOR MORE POLICE OVERSIGHT – 4/4/05
Discussions are under way between the government and the parliamentary Opposition to establish greater oversight of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips made public today that bi-partisan talks to increase police oversight through the creation of a civilian board or expanding the role of the Police Service Commission are under way. The Police Service Commission monitors the hiring and firing of JCF members. Greater accountability is needed to bolster community confidence in police integrity, Dr. Phillips said.
PRIVY COUNCIL NO LONGER HIGHEST APPELATE COURT IN BARBADOS – 4/4/05
Barbados will become only the second nation in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to cut ties with the British Judicial Committee Privy Council as the court of last appeal. Barbados will join Guyana in replacing the Privy Council with the newly formed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on its April 16 inaugural in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Similar legislation by the Jamaican Parliament was ruled unconstitutional by the Privy Council in February. Plans to use the CCJ as a trade court have been approved by the Jamaican legislature. .
$40 MILLION TO FIGHT DROUGHT – 4/5/05
The cabinet has approved an additional $40 million in the fight against drought and bush fire. The increased budget will fund a six-week initiative to promote public awareness, monitor water levels and collect data. Information Minister Senator Burchell White-man added that improved catchment tanks, weather forecasting and data collection are needed to alleviate the recurring drought conditions which have been acute in recent years. A portion of the $40 million allocation will go to the Rapid Response Unit and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
SOLID WASTE CHAIRMAN DEFIANT – 4/5/05
Responding to allegations of cronyism and corruption, National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) executive chairman Alston Stewart was defiant in defense of actions taken by the board under his directorship. Speaking at a press conference Monday, Mr. Stewart acknowledged that the NSWMA has been operating without written contracts for services worth millions of dollar since 1994, saying that he initiated talks with the contractor-general in July 2004 to create a bid structure. Mr. Stewart, whose agency administers 69 contracts worth $288 million annually, called for critics who brought his personal integrity into question to substantiate charges of corruption.
ALL BETS ARE OFF – 4/6/05
All bets are off at 57 gaming outlets closed by the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Commission (BLGC). Walter Scott, BLGC Chairman, stated that licenses for 57 off-track betting outlets across the island were not renewed in March because of unresolved issues before the gaming tribunal. Members of the gaming industry say that a dispute over operating hours that limit offshore betting triggered the closings. The law requiring independent booking agents to close operations while racing is underway at St. Catherine’s Caymanas Park is said to be ignored by some agents. With revenues generated from overseas betting reported to be $760 million last year, many industry members argue that the law is antiquated and noted that the Fair Trading Commission recommended its amendment in January.
100 DETAINED IN POLICE SWEEP – 4/7/05
Over 500 police officers and 70 Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) personnel conducted a sweep of Spanish Town Wednesday. The midnight operation resulted in the detention of 100 men from Taws Pen, Ellerslie Pen and March Pen Roads. Police and soldiers searched homes, cars and pedestrians, in an attempt to crack down on gang violence in Spanish Town, reported to be responsible for 52 of the 60 deaths recorded this year in St. Catherine. Detainees were held in an open lot enclosed by barbed wire in Ellerslie Pen. A 96 hour curfew has been imposed on Spanish Town and its environs.
SUNSHINE TAX – 4/8/05
Starting May 1 visitors to Jamaica will be greeted with a US$10 Tourism Enhancement Fee, Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Assamba disclosed Wednesday. The Tourism Master Plan imposes a US$10 fee on airline travelers, US$2 on cruise ship passengers, helping to promote the sustainability of Jamaican tourism, said Minister Assamba. The fee is drawing sharp criticism from the Opposition and members of the tourism industry who argue that the industry is already heavily taxed.
GAYLE RULED ELIGIBLE – 4/4/05
Batsmen Christopher Gayle will return to play in the next Test match against South Africa in the Digicel 2005 Home Series to be held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Gayle will resume play with fellow teammates Ramnaresh Sarwn, Dwayne Bravo and Fidel Edwards after being released from sponsorship contracts with Cable and Wireless. The players were ruled eligible for play by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Tuesday; the WICB had previously said that the Cable and Wireless contracts were in conflict with competitor Digicel’s team sponsorship. Brian Lara has also indicated his willingness to return, leaving only Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Smith out of play.
BAILEY FAST OFF THE BLOCK – 4/5/05
Olympic Games relay gold medalist Aleen Bailey recorded her fastest ever season opener at the Arlington Invitational Saturday. Bailey ran the 100m in 11.21 seconds in the sixth heat at Maverick Stadium in Arlington Stadium. Bailey captured Olympic gold in Athens setting the 4×100 meters record with teammates Veronica Campbell, Sherone Simpson ant Tanya Lawrence.
PORTMORE TAKES THE TITLE – 4/6/05
Portmore United took home both the senior and junior titles at the Wray and Nephew National Premier League End-of-Round-Final at the National Stadium Monday night. Scoring a 1-1 tie against Waterhouse in a game that extended into overtime, the championship was decided 8-7 in penalty kicks. Portmore United’s Under-21s outscored Harbour View 4-1 for the victory.
ONANDI LOWE TO WEAR RED AND BLACK – 4/7/05
Onandi Lowe, the former central defender acquitted of drug trafficking charges in February, returns to Arnett Gardens and the Wray and Nephew National Premier League. Suspended from play following a cocaine arrest two weeks after signing with the English League’s Coventry City team, Lowe’s acquittal came too late to complete a transfer to Division One team Peterborough. Onandi will compete as a Junglist in play against Los Perfectos in a Red Stripe Champions Cup KO in Mandeville.