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Dominica Gov’t wants apology from OAS official

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Dominica Gov’t wants apology from OAS official

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — The Dominica g overnment is demanding an apology from the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, after he posted a message on social media regarding free and fair elections in the country.

In the message posted on his Twitter account on Thursday, Almagro said he had met with the island’s former ambassador to the OAS, Crispin Gregoire, who “expressed his concern that the upcoming elections in Dominica are not free and fair.

“He also requested OAS official assistance to help ensure a level playing field in the country,” Almagro added.

But in a two-page letter to Almagro on Friday and reproduced in the local media here, Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Francine Baron demanded that the OAS Secretary General immediately remove the message on his Twitter account as well as apologise.

“You are the head of the Organisation of American States, an organisation that the Government of Dominica has invited for the last two elections, to monitor our elections in Dominica. As with any system in the world, our electoral system is not perfect, but observers have consistently held that our elections are free and fair,” she wrote informing him that general elections are constitutionally due in 2020.

She said that recommendations have been made regarding ways to improve the electoral system “chief of which is through the introduction of voter identification cards and the revision of the voters list”.

Baron said that the Electoral Commission has approved a system for the introduction of the cards and the legislation to facilitate the process has been drafted.

She attempted to give a detailed account of the measures being followed regarding the situation, adding “the Opposition took the opportunity at the consultation to raise a different objection to the legislation.

‘They have insisted that the Electoral Commission should not go overseas to our population centres, to allow citizens, who are already on the voters list, to participate in the confirmation process and that confirmation should only be conducted in Dominica”.

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Fire Brigade received over 1,300 prank calls last year

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Fire Brigade received over 1,300 prank calls last year

Monday Exchange

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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In much the same way that the police are being affected by prank calls to 119, the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) says that false alarms are having a negative effect on its operations.

Fire Brigade Commissioner Stewart Beckford told reporters and editors at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange that the service received 1,303 prank calls in 2018. At the same time, the brigade received 9,309 genuine calls for the year.

Prank calls increased by approximately 22 per cent in 2018, the commissioner said, moving from 1,071 in the previous year.

According to Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations Warren Malcolm, prank calls oftentimes affect the brigade’s response to genuine calls.

“A number of times when we receive these false calls they impact the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s response in a negative way, because the time we would have spent responding to a false alarm, we [miss] genuine calls that are sometimes put on hold in order to facilitate these. Because we have to respond to all calls, not knowing whether or not it’s false,” Malcolm said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Beckford said ideally the fire brigade would need a central dispatch centre

“What we ideally want to see is a unit set up within the Jamaica Fire Brigade itself that is manned by firefighters on a 24-hour basis, where we will receive calls, record calls, and dispatch accordingly. What we have now is an almost two-tiered system. Majority of the calls will go into 110, then they are sent to the nearest fire station. That is what the dispatcher may think. In some instances, it’s not really the nearest fire station, so that is a problem,” Beckford told editors and reporters.

“We want it manned by staff because they have the knowledge and experience so that when a fire is occurring at location X they know the nearest fire station and are readily able to dispatch that fire unit. It will cut out the delayed time and period in which it takes for the persons who are calling to get to 110. It takes time for 110 to take that information and pass it to us, and then we have to interrogate 110 who sometimes don’t have the information because they don’t know certain information that they need to pull out from the individual that will assist us getting to the scene as quickly as possible. If the call comes to us sometimes we can use that to determine whether a call is genuine or false,” he added.

The fire officials also said that some calls that they categorise as pranks are placed with good intent. This means that an individual may call to report a fire he or she observed, but when firefighters arrive at the scene the fire is nothing considered major. The brigade received 399 such calls last year.

Beckford said that in order to establish this central dispatch centre, significant funding is required.

“I’m not able to give a figure off hand, but I know we had developed a programme some years ago which we wanted to implement, [but] it was not supported and so we had to put it on hold. The Government is now currently in discussions with the Japanese Government and there is a programme that is now actively being pursued and I’m being advised that we should see a roll-out of that programme sometime in May of this year. That should really enhance our communication capabilities, but in terms of the dispatch, it’s just a matter of funding,” said Beckford.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Engineering students explore emerging LNG opportunities

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Engineering students explore emerging LNG opportunities

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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DOZENS of engineering students gathered at The University of the West Indies Mona (UWI) during its Research Days to learn more about opportunities in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry locally and overseas.

New Fortress Energy (NFE) Senior Vice-President Kevin Frantz was on hand to break down the ‘Seven Wonders of LNG’ for the students, a recent release from the company has said.

According to the VP, the ‘Seven Wonders of LNG’ include reduced energy costs, increased efficiency, improved power quality, environmental stewardship, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, decentralised power, and making LNG the primary source to one’s current back-up installation.

“The projects we’ve completed to date in bringing LNG to Jamaica have put the country leaps and bounds ahead in the Caribbean,” Frantz said during his two-hour presentation. “As engineering students, there are huge opportunities for you to get involved and help shape this growing sector and Jamaica’s economic future.”

At the end of the presentation, the students, who represented The UWI and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), fielded several questions to Frantz and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Dr Paul Aiken, to help them better understand the LNG industry.

According to the release, the topics covered included the types of engineers needed to work in onshore and offshore operations, the process of cooling LNG, the role of New Fortress Energy’s floating storage regasification unit in supplying natural gas across Jamaica and the region, as well as how the design of LNG vessels contribute to the safe transportation of LNG.

Responding to questions about job opportunities, Frantz urged the students to get involved in the country’s transition to natural gas.

“I encourage you to be proactive, get involved by doing research and pulling together statistics, global trends and other information about LNG. The sector is still very new in Jamaica and in many parts of the world for that matter, which means there’s a lot to learn and discover, so don’t box yourselves in,” he is quoted as saying in the release.

Meanwhile, citing an example of LNG at work, Dr Aiken highlighted that the campus is now saving more than $56 million per month in the first phase of its co-generation partnership with New Fortress Energy, the release said.

In the partnership, the energy company said it is providing UWI with affordable and environmentally friendly LNG as well as leading the expansion of the university’s cogeneration plant. The undertaking is expected to reduce costs for the campus by over $356 million annually at the end of phase two of the project, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent, the release continued.

New Fortress Energy said it has also committed to providing scholarships to top-performing science, technology, engineering and mathematics students at The UWI and other tertiary institutions in need of financial support.

According to the release, the company has, over the past two years, awarded scholarships to more than 50 tertiary-level students, including Sasha Lewis, from the UWI, and Zoran Watkis, from the University of Technology, Jamaica — both of whom are now employed with NFE as project engineers.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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General information on filing your tax returns

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General information on filing your tax returns

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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Q: I heard that it’s the start of the tax season in the United States. How do I know if I should file taxes and what should I do?

 

A: Officials at the US Embassy are not tax experts, but we can share some general information. All US citizens and green card holders must file a US individual income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if they live outside the United States and may not owe any taxes. The rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns are generally the same for US citizens and legal permanent residents whether you reside in the United States or abroad. The IRS website (www.irs.gov) has a wealth of information, forms, and links to guide you through the process.

US income tax returns are due on April 15. If you reside overseas, however, you qualify for an automatic two-month extension to file. Any tax due, however, must be paid by April 15 to avoid paying interest and, possibly, penalties. Please note, payments are not considered received until the date of actual receipt by the IRS, not the postmark date.

Many taxpayers abroad choose to file their return electronically using e-file. It’s quick, easy, and secure. There are links on how to use e-file on the IRS homepage under the File header. If you choose to use paper returns and to send in any payments, you can find the IRS mailing address by clicking on How to File under the File header, and then clicking on the Mailing Addresses button.

You must report all income in US dollar equivalents. Taxpayers generally use the yearly average exchange rate. The daily rate, however, may be used for specific transactions. Yearly exchange rates can be found searching for the phrase “Yearly Average Currency Exchange Rates” in the search tab of the IRS website.

You must list the Social Security Number (SSN) of any person for whom you claim an exemption on your individual income tax return. If your spouse or other dependent is not eligible to have an SSN, you must list an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead. You can apply for an SSN for a dependent at a Social Security Office or visit the US Embassy’s website for information on how to contact the Social Security Administration’s Federal Benefits Unit in the Dominican Republic. To apply, you must provide original and certified copies of documents verifying the dependent’s age, identity, and citizenship. To apply for an ITIN, you must file Form W-7 and supporting documents with the IRS.

Tax forms as well as tax guides and publications can be downloaded from the Forms and Instructions tab on the IRS main webpage. One potentially useful guide is Publication 54, “Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad”, which details special tax rules for those who work abroad or who have income earned in foreign countries. Another potentially helpful guide is Publication 514, “Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals,” which describes how you may be able to claim a tax credit or income deduction for taxes paid or accrued to a foreign country on a foreign income source. Further general tax information for those living abroad can be found at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/taxpayers-living-abroad.

Good luck on completing your taxes!

 

You can find more information about how to travel to the US on our website, jm.usembassy.gov Keep on top of embassy news on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Embassy-Jamaica and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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1:30 am 1st Annual JouvertRadio Caribbea... @ In The Maryland Area
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#EATCARIBBEAN J’Ou,VertRadio’s 1st ANNUAL CARIBBEAN COOK OFF!! ONLY CARIBBEAN DISHES The Caribbean Cook off is a celebration and a contest of the DMV’s number one consumed food. The most talented chefs, mom & pop cooks[...]

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