JAMAICA

Minister Listed Among Tourism's Most Influential

December 27, 2016

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is among those recently honoured by travel website, Travel Pulse, as the most influential people in travel for 2016.

Bartlett returned to office as part of a new government, resuming the post he held from 2007 to 2011 and immediately initiated efforts to build on Jamaica’s already solid visitor growth in recent years, targeting an ultimate goal of double-digit annual visitor arrivals growth.

Also named on the list were: US President Barack Obama; US President Elect Donald Trump; the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation CEO, Arnold Donald; United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz; and British billionaire business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson.

The list is published each year by Travel Pulse’s award-winning editorial staff. Travel Pulse publishes the most in-depth and unique content for travel agents and consumers. It is also the world’s leading travel trade website, with a dedicated newsletter sent to over 93,000 travel agents every morning.

Tourists concerned about crime in Mo'Bay

September 27, 2016

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, says tourists are concerned about the upsurge in violence in the western parish of St. James – home to the tourist resort town of Montego Bay.

According to Robinson the association has ramped up its public relations drive due to an influx of calls. “The general perception is that there is too much crime – there are too many murders.”

 

The JHTA President said that players in the industry are urging the government to find a solution to stem the crime wave. “The industry is very concerned about the spiralling in crime in the west, even for our staff to go home and for the general public. There is this fear that anything can happen to them. They need to be reassured that they can go about the city with some level of assurance that they are going to be safe.”

He added that during a meeting with security officials on Friday, talks focused on the need for social intervention as well as additional cars and manpower. “It is at crisis stage – and all focus needs to be on this,” he said.

 

Last week 14 people were killed in the western parish – six of them on Friday.

PM calls for compulsory Spanish in schools

June 12, 2016

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness has called for Spanish lessons to be made compulsory in Jamaican schools and for Spanish to become Jamaica's second language.

Holness made the call in Parliament after returning from a meeting of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Cuba, referring to plans for enhanced cooperation on language learning with that country. His remarks plunged Jamaicans straight into the unresolved and sometimes fierce debate over the use - and acceptance - of Jamaican patois versus the English language. 

The discussion on patois versus the English language continues to reflect considerable divisions in Jamaican society and culture, as well as perceived inequities in its educational system.

Jamaica plans to get rid of the Queen and legalise marijuana

April 14, 2016

Jamaican lawmakers are set to debate a constitutional amendment that would replace Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, making the island a republic.


The proposal would see the Queen replaced with a Non-Executive President, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said Thursday in a speech to parliament posted on the government’s website.

 

Jamaican Labour Party leader Andrew Holness scraped a narrow win in general elections in February.

Voters opted for promises of tax cuts and a higher minimum wage over the previous government’s austerity programne.

 

There are also proposals to set fixed election dates and term limits for the Prime Minister and for marijuana to be fully legalised for “specified purposes.”

 

The measures would need to be passed by Parliament to become law. The government also plans to set up a single anti-corruption body, and reform the tax and pension system, Mr Allen said.

Government to make road safety a priority

April 08, 2016

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is committed to making road safety a priority.

 

Holness was peaking at a meeting with Minister of Transport and Mining, Mike Henry, members of the National Road Safety Council, and other stakeholder groups at the Office of the Prime Minister, 

 

Since the start of the year, 111 persons have died on the nation's roads. This is six more than the 105 fatalities for the corresponding period in 2015. 

 

The meeting was held to discuss measures to address the upsurge in road crashes.

 

Speaking with journalists following the meeting, Henry said the passage of the Road Traffic Act will be a critical focus of his ministry.

 

He also said the government will be working to ensure it is passed in the House as soon as possible. 

The Bill covers areas such as the establishment of the Island Traffic Authority and its functions, the road code, classification of vehicles, revocation of certificate of fitness; the application, granting and refusal of learner’s permit or driver’s licence, and offences relating to the licensing of a driver.

Local farmers to benefit from US$29m pilot project

April 06, 2016

Jamaica’s farmers are set to benefit from a US$29 million pilot project, which will see more local produce being sold in cities across the United States (US).

 

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has partnered with the US-based National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) to embark on the project, which will initially benefit 10 farmers in St Ann for one year.

 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by both entities.

 

Under the agreement, the farmers will supply three cities in the US with vegetables such as turnip greens, sweet potatoes and string beans among others.

 

The US association has provided loan funds, which the farmers will be able to access through the local banks and credit unions.

 

Export of the produce is slated to get underway in June

US government concerned about illegal cable channels

April 06, 2016

A representative of the United States government says the country is still concerned about local cable operators who are broadcasting US channels without the proper license. 

Last year local cable operators were given strict orders to desist from illegally transmitting several channels and programmes after US trade representatives met with local authorities during President Barack Obama's visit to the island.

At the time 98 US channels were being aired without the proper license.

But Counselor for Public Affairs at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Joshua Polacheck says his government still has ongoing concerns about US channels being broadcast illegally in Jamaica.

Counsellor for Public Affairs at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Joshua Polacheck JAMAICA: US government still concerned about illegal cable stations in Jamaica.

 

JAMPRO calls press conference to quash ponzi scheme allegations

April 06, 2016

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) has called an emergency press conference to address media reports which allege it is involved in a ponzi scheme.

 

JAMPRO is a government agency which facilitates foreign direct investments (FDI) for available private sector projects in need of investment capital.

 

A report published on Tuesday by Caribbean News Now says JAMPRO supported business owned by a man charged by US authorities for operating a ponzi scheme. However, in a release, JAMPRO said the allegations are totally unfounded. 

 

JAMPRO says the allegations are detrimental to Jamaica’s good reputation in attracting foreign direct investments and says the press conference has been called to refute the reports.

 

JAMPRO president Diane Edwards and Vice-President of Investment Promotion Claude Duncan are expected to address the media at the press conference which is scheduled to begin at noon at the corporation's Trafalgar Road Head Office.

Golding: Low voter turnout a concern

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding says he is concerned about the low voter turnout in the 17th General Election adding that Jamaicans should also be concerned.

 

Last Thursday’s turnout of 47.7 per cent of voters was the lowest since universal adult suffrage in 1944.

 

Golding pointed out that although the voter turnout is based on an inflated voters’ list which has not been re-verified in about 10 years, it is a cause for concern.

 

“I think all of us need to be concerned about the low level of voter participation,” he said. “We have been trending down over the last several elections, and it is certainly nowhere near what obtains in other Caribbean countries,” he explained, adding that the voter turnout in Antigua and Barbuda is about 90 per cent.

 

“It is worrisome, because it compromises the legitimacy of political authority in the country, because political authority is based on an ascent of slightly more than the majority,”

JLP secures Jamaica election victory

The Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) has defied political odds by winning the country’s 17th general election by a slender three seat margin, claiming 33 of the 63 Parliamentary seats contested.

 

JLP leader, Andrew Holness, is the most likely to take over from the PNP’s Portia Simpson Miller as the next prime minister. Simpson-Miller, who had two separate terms as the country's first woman prime minister, reduced inflation and improved economic growth during her tenure but also embraced spending cuts, wage freezes and harsh fiscal discipline as part of a $1.27bn (£910m) IMF bailout.

 

The austerity programme drove voters towards Holness who promised deep tax cuts and increase in employment. "We will grow the Jamaican economy. We will create jobs. We will give you an accountable and responsive government," he said, promising that the JLP government would also look into housing and healthcare issues. Speaking to his party supporters following the win he said, "We don't take it that we have won a prize. The cost of victory is to keep the commitments we have made."

 

Holness will be joined by his wife, Juliet in Parliament as a first time MP, after she won the St. Andrew East Rural constituency seat by 700 votes.  St. Andrew East Rural constituency is the largest geographically, in the country.

 

Prime Minister designate, Holness believes his wife is qualified to be included in the Cabinet, but says that it would be up to her to decide whether she wants to sit in the executive.

“Of course, my wife is fit for Cabinet duties”, said Holness.  “As to whether or not she wants to be in the Cabinet, that’s another consideration”.

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