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WiredJa Online News

Major upgrading work set for Lucea

As the new mayor of Lucea in Hanover continues his drive to improve the environment of the north coast town, a major beautification project involving four government agencies and the Hanover Parish Council is shortly to get underway. Following a walking tour of today, Minister McNeill said on passing through the town recently he was disappointed. Lucea is the only parish capital between the resort towns of Montego Bay and Negril. According to the Tourism Minister, “When you consider that possible in excess of 200,000 visitors pass through here as well as the people who live in the town, it really is unacceptable.” He consequently communicated his thoughts with Member of Parliament Ian Hayles and Mayor Wynter McIntosh “and we determined that we were going to come and take a look at it because it cannot remain in the way it is.” Agencies represented on the extensive tour included the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the National Works Agency (NWA), National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), the Hanover Parish Council and Lucea Development Initiative. While recognizing that there are some reasons for the town‘s shabby appearance, a major one being the $1.2 billion pipe laying work by the NWC, Minister McNeill said “how it was going to be fixed up is not enough so we are going to come in with the TEF to give some assistance so the road can be done   properly.” Issues with drains and sidewalks will also be addressed and something done to improve landscaping and the beauty of the town. That will include erecting signage at strategic locations, upgrading Look Out Park and creating a rest stop where people can sit and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Lucea Harbour. The main thoroughfare, Seaview Drive, will be rehabilitated with a pedestrian walk linking into a Bailey bridge to be erected at adjacent to the existing Johnson Town Bridge. Its two-fold purpose is to enable the large water mains to be laid and provide a safe path for pedestrians. The old stone bridge is to be repaired. Minister McNeill insisted that serious attention be given to the cleanliness and beauty of the town, noting that its aesthetic assets were being squandered. “The technical teams are going to do some work and at the end of it, we are going to see if we can get this up to a standard that we would be proud of,” he said. The Tourism Minister and his team also visited the historic Fort Charlotte which has been falling into a state of ruin. “If we do not fix it up now every day it loses something to the elements. We are going to be working with the parish council to do some work to protect it and get it back into the condition that it should be,” he said. To ensure it does not degrade any further, he said that work should start now. “They have a proposal on the table and we are going to see how we can do a phased restoration of it. In effect what we are doing is the same way we have done transformative programmes in Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Negril we are looking to see what can be done for Lucea,” he stated. The plan outlined by Minister McNeill has been endorsed by MP Hayles and Mayor McIntosh. MP Hayles estimated that “this town is going to need over a billion dollars.” He stated, “Just take  a look at the town, it’s going to take a lot of money but I am happy to see that the Minister is here and he has made commitments and we have work to do and we are going to follow through on the commitments and ensure that we can have something good going forward.” For his part, Mayor McIntosh also expressed appreciation for the intervention by Minister McNeill and said he would be rallying the business community and the people of Lucea to play their part in cleaning up the town. “A lot of the buildings are in a dilapidated state and we must improve the status of Lucea,” he declared. He said Minister McNeil had asked for estimates to put in a proper drainage system and for a maintenance team to be assigned to avoid a recurrence of the ugly scenes that have built up with blocked drains and stagnant water throughout the town.

House passes Flexible Work week bill

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 23, passed the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, paving the way for the introduction of flexible working time. The flexi-work arrangement is intended to increase employment opportunities, enhance productivity and afford workers the opportunity to better structure their lives through a flexible employee/employer work agreement. Making his contribution to the debate on the Bill, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, expressed his support for the legislation. “A worker can complete a work week in three and a half to four days and that means that it frees up Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for anybody who wants to worship during those periods,” Mr. Brown said. He added that with the compressed work week, workers can observer their religious day of worship without any fear of reprisal. Mr. Brown also highlighted that under the legislation, there will be no set eight or 10-hour work days, but instead these will be capped at a maximum of 12 hours. For his part, Opposition Member of Parliament for North East St. Andrew, Delroy Chuck, also welcomed passage of the legislation, while noting that if properly implemented it could lead to increased employment for Jamaicans. He further argued that the Government should implement the provisions of the Act within the civil service. “The first place they should start is within the various agencies that collect taxes, fees and whatever duties that need to be paid. Put in place this flexi time (and) make provision so that these collectors of taxes can be opened not until four o’clock in the evening, but until six and eight p.m. in the nights,” Mr. Chuck said. Closing the debate, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the Ministry will be intensifying its public education programme. He emphasized that it is important that employees and employers are cognizant of their rights under the legislation, “and that everyone appreciates that their freedom to negotiate is essential to the overall success of flexi work.” Mr. Kellier further informed that the Jamaica information Service (JIS) has been contracted to undertake further public education on the Ministry’s behalf through the use of the print and electronic media. He  said the Ministry will also ensure that labour officers throughout the island are further sensitized to the new modality under flexi work. “Studies have shown that in those jurisdictions where flexi work arrangements have been implemented, there has been less staff turnover, greater employee satisfaction, a greater sense of satisfaction and a greater commitment to the job,” Mr. Kellier noted. The Bill will be sent to the Senate for its approval.

Jamaica due £2.3 trillion in reparations says NCR report

THE National Commission on Reparations (NCR) says Jamaica would be due at least £2.3 trillion (approximately J$416.3 trillion) from any slavery reparations paid by Britain to the region. This money would be able to pay off Jamaica’s national debt of $2 trillion and set the nation on a new economic path. The figure was based on the NCR’s calculation of Jamaica’s 30.64 per cent of the £7.5 trillion calculated by British academic theologian, Dr Robert Beckford, as being owed by Britain to its former colonies. The information was included in the NCR’s report which was finally completed and tabled in the House of Representatives last Tuesday. Beckford, who was born to Jamaican parents in Northampton, England, and was raised in the Pentecostal Church, has focused on the role Britain played in the slave trade in his latest documentary — The Empire Pays Back — on Channel Four Television, which calculates how much money African- Caribbean nations would be owed if they were compensated for slavery, which he described as “one of the major scars on British history”. But, according to the Professor Verene Shepherdchaired Jamaican commission, even Professor Beckford’s figure is incomplete, as it does not include provisions for the differentiated labour classifications under slavery — field, artisan, domestic, and supervisory. The NCR report also claimed that Beckford failed to take into account the pre-arrival suffering and trauma of capture in Africa, the march to the coast, and storage in dungeons. “It also does not include the trauma and pain of the ‘Middle Passage’ journey, punishment, death through execution and the sexploitation which were daily features of the plantation society, both during and after slavery. And it excludes the cost of repatriation,” Shepherd’s team reported. “There is no doubt that the enslaved suffered... the punishment meted out to the enslaved people was severe, and this level of suffering must be accounted for in any demand for repair and restorative justice,” the report added. Beckford has insisted, however, that his documentary revealed how Britain got rich out of slavery, as well as the individuals and institutions who still benefit. “… We provided the first empirical calculation of how much African-Caribbean [nations] are due. It’s a conservative figure, but it will still bankrupt the (British) nation,” he said. The calculation was divided into the three sections: (1) Unpaid Labour: Beckford’s team estimated that for unpaid labour Britain owes £4 trillion; (2) Benefit to the economy or unjust enrichment: His team said Britain earned £5,000,000 per year from sugar during the peak of the industry, thus over a century alone Britain made £500,000,000. Calculated at today’s rate, that amount equalled to £2.5 trillion; (3) Calculation of human cost/pain and suffering: Using the estimate £12,500 average compensation granted to a British citizen for bondage in prison and/or wrongful imprisonment, multiplied by the average 20 years of labour for an enslaved African, the total cost for an individual African would be £250,000. When this is multiplied by the estimated number of Africans who survived the Middle Passage, plus those who were born into slavery, the total cost for pain and suffering is estimated at £1 trillion. The total monetary reparation owned by Britain, according to Beckford’s calculations, would be an estimated £7.5 trillion. Jamaica’s share, using Beckford’s estimate, would equal to 30.6 per cent of that £7.5 trillion, or £2,298 trillion. “The fundamental question facing the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) as it joins its Caricom neighbours in seeking redress from European countries is: What constitutes a meritorious claim? It is hoped that this report will assist the GOJ in its deliberations and in the debate in Parliament over the issue of reparation, which is an imperative,” the commissioners stated. The NCR report is expected to be one of the main subjects of the debate on the reparations issue when it resumes in the House of Representatives.

PJ Patterson wants JA to move towards the CCJ

Former Jamaican Prime Minister and President of the People’s National Party - PNP, P.J. Patterson told members of the Party on Sunday that they needed to remain true to the PNP’s long-term commitment of securing Republican status for Jamaica. Speaking at the public session of the 76th annual conference of the PNP at the National Arena in Kingston, Mr. Patterson emphasized the Party’s determination to see Jamaica “finally sever once and for all sever the judicial links to an Imperial Court.” Mr. Patterson was making reference to Jamaica acceding to the appellate division of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). As Prime Minister during the 1990s, Mr. Patterson saw to the establishment of a Commission to examine options for reform of the Jamaican Constitution, including the establishment of a Republic. This would, among other things, see the Queen of England being replaced as the Jamaican Head of State. The discussions between the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party  (JLP) broke down on the question of what form of republic Jamaica should become – one with a ceremonial president or an executive president. The PNP was in favour of an executive presidency, while the JLP wanted a ceremonial president with limited powers, akin to the office of the Governor General under the existing constitutional arrangement. That matter has not yet been fully resolved. In a judgment handed down in 2004 the UK based Privy Council ruled that the manner in which Jamaica had gone about joining the appellate division of the CCJ was unconstitutional, as a consequence of which the country has had to continue relying on the Privy Council as its final court of appeal, while utilising only the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean court. Mr. Patterson also endorsed another matter of great historical resonance – the growing demand by Caribbean people for reparations from Europe for the evils of slavery. “We cannot be silent in the cry for social justice by the payment of Reparation long overdue,” he declared. The PNP, he said, must remain committed “to fulfill the mission on which our Founders embarked 76 years ago, for if we fail, generations to come will not hold us blameless.” Mr. Patterson was PNP President and Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1992 to early 2006.

Jamaica's economy to further improve - Portia

Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has highlighted the tremendous success of the government’s economic programme and the resultant improvement in the island’s economy over the past two years. Addressing Sunday’s  public session of the People's National Party’s (PNP)  76th annual conference, the party president pointed to several major projects that are slated to come on stream, the passage of successive International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests and the latest ratings which showed that the economy has been growing.  She noted that Jamaica has been able to attract some J$54 billion in investments, particularly in the tourism sector, over the last two years.  Prime Minister Simpson Miller pointed out that the country's debt was declining and its perception improving among international credit ratings agencies, such as Standard & Poors, which has upgraded Jamaica's rating from stable to positive.  Addressing jubilant supporters inside the National Arena in Kingston, The PNP President said her administration was positioning the island for more substantial economic growth, having achieved four consecutive quarters of growth after 14 successive quarters of negative performance.  She said unemployment levels have declined from over 16 per cent to 13.6 per cent, and is expected to further improve further as additional investments are made in business processing and outsourcing (BPO) with the establishment of centres in various parish capitals across the country. This initiative is expected to create some 2,500 jobs by the end of the financial year and an additional 10,000 jobs upon completion.  In addition, she pointed to the on-going work to diversify the energy sector to save Jamaicans some US$350 million in energy costs by 2018, and highlighted the development the country's highway infrastructure and attempts to position the country as a global logistics hub through the expansion of the Kingston Harbour, Norman Manley International Airport and development of the Portland Bight area. The Jamaican Prime Minister said expansion of the Kingston Wharves was also in the pipeline and revealed that the administration was receiving several investments in logistics amounting to billions of dollars, to come not only out of China but out of the United States and Europe. “The future is looking bright, we welcome the investments,” said Simpson Miller who thanked the local and international investors. Simpson Miller, while boasting of the outstanding gains to come, cautioned that economic independence would not come overnight and that the country needed the involvement of all Jamaicans, locally and overseas, to succeed. She said the country could not continue to do business as usual and new approaches were necessary to get the desired results.  “So how dem say nothing naa gwaan?” Simpson Miller asked to loud cheers. “… when people say nothing naa gwaan you can proudly say, big things a gwaan and our country is moving on,” she told the thousands of cheering party supporters. She said the administration had passed the people’s test when “we reduced GCT from 17.5 per cent to 16.5 per cent”, reduced the tax burden on low-income earners, expanded the PATH and school-feeding programmes, hand out land titles and improve health benefits, among other things. Simpson Miller said that the PNP will again pass the people’s test when it comes away successful at next year’s holding of Local Government elections and the subsequent general elections.  

Witness in Mario Deane case escapes police lock-up

MONTEGO BAY, September 16, 2014 – The police are continuing their search for a man who is a witness in the high level Mario Deane probe who escaped from the Montego Bay Police Lock-Up in St. James on Saturday.

Carl Williams appointed Police Commissioner

Kingston, Jamaica, September 10, 2014 - Jamaica's search for a police commissioner has ended with the appointment of Carl McKay Williams  as the island's new Commissioner of Police, effective September 15, 2014. He replaces Owen Ellington who retired from the force on July 1, 2014 after serving  the constabulary for thirty four years.

Thousands bid farewell to former Minister Roger Clarke

Savanna-la-mar, Sunday September 14, 2014 - It has been described as possibly the largest funeral to take place in Jamaica; some people say it could be compared with or even rival Michael Manley’s or even Bob Marley’s, but the consensus is, that the Funeral service for the late Minister of Agriculture Roger Harold Clifford Clarke was indeed massive.

Lucea's Mayor Wynter McIntosh hold talks with stakeholders

Sunday September 7, 2014- The new Mayor of Lucea in Hanover, Councillor Wynter McIntosh has pledged to correct as many of the challenges which plague the residents of the town as well as the parish within the time allowed before the next Parish Council elections.

Aristide placed under house arrest

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Thursday September 11, 2014- As Haitian Judge, Lamarre Belizaire, continues to investigate allegations of corruption, money laundering and drug smuggling involving former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and close allies, the former president has been placed under house arrest.

Roger Clarke's body arrives in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica September 10, 2014 - The body of the late Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport on Wednesday afternoon and was met by his wife Sonia, members of the Cabinet and officers of the People's National Party, led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as well as other officials including former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson.

Craft Council Set Up To Improve Industry

The Craft Council of Jamaica, comprising local craft traders, producers and other stakeholders, has been established, as the Government continues its work to facilitate sustainable development of the industry.

Debate on flexi hours begins in Parliament

KINGSTON, Jamaica September 10,2014 - Debate on a Bill for the introduction of flexi work arrangements in Jamaica commenced in The House of Representatives yesterday, whereby the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act will be amended to give greater protection to the nation’s workers.

Jamaica Observes Tourism Awareness Week, Sept. 21- Oct. 1

Kingston, Jamaica: September 10, 2014 – As the tourism sector continues to experience steady growth the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment will seek to raise awareness of the vital contribution that the sector makes to Jamaica’s social and economic development during Tourism Awareness Week (TAW) 2014.

Persons removed froom PATH can appeal to Parish Committees

Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is advising persons, who feel that they have been unjustly denied access to, or removed from the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), to make a report to the appeals committee in each parish.

Minister McNeill launches Craft Council of Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica: September 9, 2014: Efforts to establish a central body to coordinate the development of the craft sector took a major leap today as the newly appointed Craft Council of Jamaica had its inaugural meeting, signalling the commencement of a strategic process to totally streamline the craft sector.

JDF, US Coast Guard suspend search for downed plane

One day after the United States Coast Guard pulled out of the search and recovery operation off the eastern parish of Portland for the aircraft that crashed last Friday, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has suspended its search for the single engine aircraft.

Autopsy shows Deane died of multiple head blows

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Preliminary result of an autopsy conducted on the body of  31 year old construction worker Mario Deane revealed that he died as a result of  multiple blows to the head and compression of the neck.

More Land owners Get Help to Acquire Titles

More than 2,000 landowners in four parishes will receive assistance to acquire their titles, as a result of a $90.8 million conditional grant from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

Math key to economic success says Thwaites

Montego Bay, Jamaica September 1, 2014- Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites says Jamaica now has to count on mathematics for our economic success, as mastery of the subject is a predictor of a country’s ability to take advantage of economic opportunities in the 21st Century.
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