THIS WEEKS NEWS SUMMARY
THE HIGH PRICE OF JUSTICE – 4/9/05
Citing the high costs associated with the newly created Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Opposition members refused to sign a draft report of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament seeking to establish the CCJ as Jamaica’s trade court. Opposition MP Karl Samuda argued that establishment of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) made tribunals a less costly alternative. Committee Chairman A.J. Nicholson stated that he expects the bill to be passed next week by the House of Representatives.
CONTRACTOR DENIES CRONYISM BY WASTE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY – 4/10/04
St. Ann businessman Denzil McDonald denies that political cronyism played any role in the awarding of $84 million in National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) contracts. McDonald, owner and operator of Melrose Farms and Estate Limited, has received $84 million in contract awards over a two-year period for the operation of a D9 bulldozer and a 966E front-end loader at the Riverton watershed. A strong supporter of the People’s National Party (PNP), McDonald stated that the NSWMA paid the “current market rate” for his services and presented documents he claimed to show the high cost for oil, parts and labor that he incurs.
HOUSING MINISTER SEEKS DIVESTURE – 4/11/05
Water and Housing Minister Walter Buchanan proposed the divesture of government owned housing to curtail costs from non-paying rental units to the Standing Finance Committee meeting of Parliament last week. Mr. Buchanan is seeking Cabinet approval for the divesture of housing in south St. Andrew, west St. Andrew, and west Kingston and would soon do the same for housing in Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens and Tavares Gardens. Citing the non-payment of rent and utilities, Mr. Buchanan added that owners are better caretakers of property.
SPANISH TOWN SHAKEDOWN UNDER SCRUTINY – 4/12/05
Jamaica Labour Party leader Bruce Golding denounced actions taken by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) in last week’s Spanish Town crackdown as illegal. Golding called the 96 hour curfew and detention of 80 persons in a vacant lot in the joint police-military sweep of the Tawes Pen and Ellerslie areas of Spanish Town a violation of Jamaican law. Assistant Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, head of Operation Kingfish, praised the Spanish Town shakedown for disrupting organized crime and bringing calm to the community, adding that proper procedures were followed. Two men were reported fatally shot and another injured in the Super Plus Food Stores parking lot Monday despite the heavy police presence.
ARREST SPURS NEW TENSIONS IN SPANISH TOWN – 4/13/05
Tawes Pen residents blocked Old Harbour Road and Wellington street with debris and stones in protest of the Tuesday arrest of reputed One Order gang leader Andrew ‘Bunman’ Hope. Gang warfare between One Order and rival gang Klansman has resulted in 50 deaths in Spanish Town this year to date, prompting a city wide curfew and sweep last week. Spanish Town mayor Dr. Raymoth Notice criticized the joint police-military sweep of the old capital for targeting Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) sections of the city, a concern voiced by many protesters. Hope was processed and released, according to Inspector Victor Henry of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN).
JAMAICA PARTY LEADER IN LANDSLIDE ELECTION – 4/14/05
Declaring victory in the West Kingston by-election, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Bruce Golding easily won a seat in the House of Representatives and with it the Opposition party leadership. Golding received 8,255 of all ballots cast, defeating his closest political rival, People National Party (PNP) candidate Joseph “Bunny” Witter, by more than 7,000 votes in an election. 53 per cent of 17,565 eligible voters were reported to have participated in Wednesday’s election.
GOVERNMENT TO RAISE GCT, DROP TAXABLE INCOME – 4/15/05
Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Omar Davies introduced plans to raise the General Consumption Tax (GCT) to 16.5 per cent while raising the threshold of taxable income in an attempt to balance the $347.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2005. $1.5 billion in lost revenue incurred from increased levels of non-taxable income are to be offset by a 1.5 per cent hike in the GCT and increased property, transfer, stamp, building material, cigarette and gambling tax revenue. The tax restructuring proposed by a committee led by business entrepreneur Joseph M. Matalon is expected to yield an additional $9.3 billion in additional revenues for the government.
MOB STONES SUSPECTED THEIVES TO DEATH – 4/15/05
A mob of angry farmers incensed over stolen yam crops reportedly stoned and hacked to death two men in Mendez Town as an onlooker pleaded for their lives. No arrests have been made in the brutal killing and dismemberment of the two men in an incident that took place two-weeks ago. Such incidences of mob brutality sparked by the theft of produce or cattle are rarely prosecuted and are often cheered by farmers who are known to sleep in their fields to safeguard crops. The Ministry of Agriculture has proposed legislation regulating the transport of agricultural goods in an effort to stem the millions of dollars in losses farmers suffer from theft.
BOLT RETURNS TO TRACK – 4/11/05
18-year-old former national champion Usain Bolt finished the 200-meter in 19.93 seconds at the Seminole Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida. The performance was a first-place finish for Bolt who broke the World Junior Record (WJR) at the 2004 Carifta Games in Bermuda. The event marked Bolt’s first competition since last summer’s Olympic Games at Athens where he finished a disappointing fifth.
SOUTH AFRICA PREVAILS IN SECOND TEST – 4/13/05
South Africa prevailed over the West Indies in the second Test of the Digicel Series at Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain Tuesday. South Africa took two out of two in a rout of the West Indies, in play dominated by South African batsman Abraham ‘A.B.’ de Villiers and pacer Makhaya Ntini. West Indies play suffering from lackluster pitching finished 347 and 194 to South Africa’s 398 and 146. South Africa handily won the match by six wickets.
‘PELE’ BREAKS DRAW – 4/14/05
Arnett Gardens scored a 1-0 victory over scoreless Portmore United in the first round of the Red Stripe Champions Cup at Ferdie Neita Park. Kevin ‘Pele’ Wilson scored the only goal of the match on counterattack to a Portmore corner. Arnett Gardens will meet Sandy Bay who defeated Reno in a 0-0 draw at Frome in the second leg of the championship in two weeks.
JAMAICA HOSTS WOMEN’S WORLD VOLLEYBALL QUALIFIER – 4/15/05
The National Indoor Sports Centre will be home to the 2006 Women’s World Volleyball Championship qualifiers for the North and Central American and Caribbean Confederation (NORCECA) region. Ranked second in NORCECA, Jamaica will open against Cayman Islands but look to the British Virgin Islands as their stiffest competition. Jamaica is competing for a chance to play at the 2006 championships in Japan.