JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending April 29, 2005

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THIS WEEKS NEWS SUMMARY
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NEW JAMAICAN EMBASSY TO OPEN IN CHINA – 4/23/05
In a climate of increasingly open political and economic ties between Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China, Wayne McCook, acting undersecretary of trade in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, was named Jamaica’s first resident ambassador to that country. Prospects of Jamaica becoming a center of light manufacturing and transshipment point for Chinese goods, and a memorandum of understanding encouraging Chinese tourism to Jamaica, set the stage for the June opening of the Jamaican embassy in Beijing.

UWI FUNDING IN JEOPARDY – 4/24/05
Fearing challenges to subsidies received by The University of West Indies (UWI) by foreign institutions, the government is acting in apprehension of legal sanctions by the World Trade Organization (WTO), Education Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson said Saturday. Minister Henry-Wilson was addressing concerns that the 1995 General Agreement on Trade Services Act (GATS) opens the way for foreign educational institutions to make demands for similar funding from the government. Minister Henry-Wilson stated that a “technical clarification” is to be introduced to the WTO during its next session.

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH IN CALL CENTER NEARSHORING – 4/25/05
Caribbean nearshoring of call centers has enjoyed an explosive growth in the period November 2002 to December 2005, creating a US$500 million economic engine in the region, said Phillip Peters of Zagada Markets. Jamaica has been the biggest beneficiary of the Caribbean outsourcing, seeing an increase in the number of call agents from 3,200 to just over 8,000 in that same time period.

AIR JAMAICA SEEKS DEBT RELIEF – 4/26/05
Air Jamaica will seek concessions from oversea, domestic and government creditors, sharp cuts to staff and salary, and a reduction in its current fleet of 20 aircraft to facilitate refinancing of US$800 million in debt, Air Jamaica executive chairman Dr. Vin Lawrence said. Air Jamaica was in negotiations Monday with The Jamaican Airline Pilots Association (JALPA) seeking a six per cent cut to base pay from pilots who will see an 18 per cent crew loss. Nearly half, or US$395 million of Air Jamaica’s debt is owed to the government and its agencies.

NEW DELAYS FOR 40 ON DEATH ROW – 4/26/05
The fate of 40 death row convicts remains in doubt after an amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act failed to provide sentencing guidelines for capital offenses, Arlene Harrison-Henry, president of the Jamaican Bar Association (JBA), stated Monday. The JBA will submit proposed guidelines drafted in partnership with the Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions addressing standards and burden of proof for capital murder cases. The United Kingdom-based Privy Council ruled the mandatory death sentence for capital murder unconstitutional in July 2004.

EDUCATION TO RECEIVE $5 BILLION BOON – 4/27/05
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson announced the creation of a $5 billion Education Transformation Account funded by the National Housing Trust (NHT) in a session before Parliament in the 2005/2006 Budget Debate on Tuesday. The $5 billion fund will help finance the development and expansion of schools across the island to accommodate shifts in population. Mr. Patterson also stated that school fees will remain at 2002/2003 rates and that the $1,000 book rental fee will be paid for with government funds.

TOURISM TAX TAKES A HOLIDAY – 4/28/05
Concerns over the impact of new tourism taxes on industry wages has resulted in a two-month delay of the implementation of those taxes, Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies stated Wednesday. Minister Davies announced the July 1 postponement during the 2005/2006 Budget Debate after hoteliers and workers objected to the cap of 15 per cent of gross income on commissions and five per cent of gross income cap on gratuities.

EMBATTLED NSWMA BOARD RESIGNS – 4/29/05
Members of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) board, to include executive chairman Alston Stewart, resigned Thursday after an emergency meeting with Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson Miller, a release from the ministry stated. Loraine Robinson, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, will head an interim management team until a new board is appointed. The NSWMA has been plagued by allegations of corruption and cronyism, under scrutiny for contracts awarded without tender and pressured by public criticism of Auditor-General Adrian Strachan for having failed to submit financial statements for two consecutive years.

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SPORTS
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HINDS AND KING DROPPED FROM FOURTH TEST – 4/26/05
The West Indies will try to salvage a dismal performance against South Africa in the Digicel series with a fourth Test replacement of batsman Ryan Hinds and Reon King in this their final test in competition at the Antigua Recreation. Narsingh Deonarine and fast bowler Tino Best join the 12-man squad against South Africa which captured a 2-0 lead in the series on Sunday in the third Test at the Kensington Oval, South Africa.

SEBA COMMANDS WEST – 4/26/05
Seba United took a decisive 5-0 lead over Granville Sunday in the first leg finals in the Captain Bakery Western Confederation Super League at Jarrett Park. Striker Wilfred Smith scored his fourth hat-trick of the season to lead Seba to their 14th victory in 15 outings.

BROWN RUMORED TO COACH WATERHOUSE – 4/28/05
Former National coach Carl Brown is rumored to be Waterhouse Football Club’s new head coach, a vacancy created by the death of coach Peter Cargill. Interim head coach Max Straw was applauded for the 4-0 win over Arlington on Sunday, but the former leader of the national team’s “Road to Germany”, Carl Brown, is thought to be the Waterhouse frontrunner. Cargill was killed in a traffic accident on April 16 en route to a Wray and Nephew National Premier League (NPL) game against Wadadah.

JA GIRLS BLAST PENN RELAYS – 4/29/05
It was the Jamaica high school girls’ day to shine at the 111th Penn Relays at Franklin Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, despite strong wind and a heavy downpour, and in front of a record 25,189 crowd in attendance. The strong Thursday performance of the Jamaica girls makes them a formidable presence in all relay finals, with VMBS champions Holmwood Technical qualifying in the 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m.