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Jamaica Government Weighing Options After Court Declares ID Law Unconstitutional

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday April 15, 2019
– The Jamaica government is contemplating its next move after suffering a huge
blow when the Constitutional Court struck down legislation to create a national
identification system.

In a
brief statement, the Andrew Holness administration said it “is respectful of
the court’s ruling and will spend some time carefully reviewing the judgment,
after which a more fulsome response will be forthcoming”.

Last
Friday, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes delivered the ruling of the three-member
panel that the National Identification and Registration Act, which is referred
to as the NIDS Act, was null and void due to infringements on privacy as well
as an individual’s right to choice.

“Having
declared some of the provisions in violation of the charter, we are of the view
that what was left could not stand because…it was so bound up with the other
provisions that there is no way it could survive by itself… and the other
route was that what was left would still be in violation of the constitution…
And so we are of the view that the National Identification and Registration Act
is to be declared null and void and of no legal effect,” he said.

The
NIDS was intended to provide a comprehensive structure to enable the capture
and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans. Under the system, each
citizen would be provided with a nine-digit National Identification Number
(NIN), which they would have for life. Every Jamaican was expected to register
for a NIN, and those who did would be unable to access certain government services
and risked criminal prosecution.

However,
the Chief Justice said the collection of biometric data under NIDS would impact
information privacy.

“The
legislation here in Jamaica makes provision in some instances for iris scans.
The literature tells us that you can glean information about a person’s state
of health from an iris scan, you can determine almost what illness they are
suffering, what is the likely medication they are on, and other things that are
very personal and private to them. So, it is not just simply a matter of we are
just collecting biometric information to be used for identification; there are
other implications of that, so hence the question of informational privacy
loomed large in our considerations,” he said, adding that the protections under
the Act for the storage and safety of information while in the possession of
the State were inadequate.

Justice
Sykes also contended that the mandatory requirement of the NIDS Act deprives
the individual of choice.

The challenge to the Act had been brought by the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson who said certain provisions of the law infringe some of his constitutional rights. He said the legislation was flawed as a result of the Government acting too hastily to implement it.

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Construction of 603-Room Ramada in St Kitts on Schedule for September Opening

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BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Thursday July 18, 2019 – Hotel development company Caribbean
Galaxy Real Estate Corporation says construction of the second phase of the Ramada
Hotel in White Gate is proceeding rapidly and the facility is on track for its
September grand opening.

Phase II of
the project is increasing the size of the hotel from 273 to 603 rooms. The
completed facility will comprise 19 structures housing a luxury clubhouse,
garden villas, spa villas, condos, a swimming pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and
a spa. In addition, there will be a restaurant, pavilions and a water park.

Prime Minister
Dr Timothy Harris said the number of people employed in the twin-island
federation will significantly increase as the hotel is staffed for its opening.

He said the spin-off activities generated by the new Ramada Hotel are expected to open up opportunities for tour guides, taxi operators, dining establishments, craft vendors and shops.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris (left) with Galaxy’s Vice President of Overseas Development Tang Jiang

At the recent Caribbean Investment Summit, the Prime Minister said investment agents from countries around the world were “amazed at the high-quality infrastructure on St. Kitts and Nevis and the progress being made on major projects in the Federation.”

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CARICOM Commission On the Economy Re-Established

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Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados on Investment and Financial Services, Professor Avinash Persaud will return as Chairman of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday July 18, 2019 – CARICOM has re-established a
CARICOM Commission on the Economy, with Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of
Barbados on Investment and Financial Services, Professor Avinash Persaud,
returning as its chairman.

Barbados’
Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong said that Professor Persaud presented
an interim report at the recent 40th Regular Conference of CARICOM Heads of
Government in St Lucia, that gave broad outlines on how the commission
identified the problems facing the region, and what solutions they believed
were appropriate for economic development.

“Professor
Persaud was very clear that we now have to pursue a people-centred
developmental model, where the emphasis will have to be on education, skills
and innovation. He was very clear that we have to take concrete measures to
solve the problems of intra-regional transport, [and] freight, as well as
people. And the fundamental thinking of the commission is that we have to
create greater access,” he said.

“The buzzword
he used, or the central word was…’access for our people’. Our people must have
enhanced access to financial resources; enhanced access to the banking system,
to education, to training, to health services; [and] access to every
citizen.  We must now, in going forward,
pursue a people-centric developmental model 
based around the idea that we must enhance access of the individual
citizen to education, to entrepreneurial [and] financing opportunities; access
in ownership of wealth, [and] access in every dimension.”

The commission
is expected to report in six months, with a fully fleshed out action plan based
on those broad principles.

Last year, CARICOM Heads of Government reconstituted a high-level commission on the economy led by Professor Persaud of Barbados, comprising experts with regional and international reputations to help CARICOM craft a new economic developmental strategy, and to break the syndrome of low growth and economic stagnation that many member states have been experiencing since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008.

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Unemployment Down in Jamaica | Caribbean360

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday July 18, 2019 – The Statistical Institute of
Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting further reduction in the unemployment rate to a
new record low of 7.8 per cent.

STATIN’s April
2019 Labour Force Survey said the figure is two percentage points lower than
the 9.8 per cent recorded for the corresponding period last year, and 0.2 per
cent lower than the out-turn for January.

Director
General, Carol Coy, said the number of unemployed persons as at April fell by
25,900 or 19.7 per cent to 105,900, relative to 2018.

She was speaking at STATIN’s quarterly briefing yesterday.

Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Carol Coy at yesterday’s briefing. (Credit: JIS)

Coy said the
male unemployment rate declined by 1.8 percentage points to 5.5 per cent, while
the corresponding figure for females fell by 2.1 percentage points to 10.6 per
cent.

“The number of
unemployed males decreased by 13,000 to 39,900 in April 2019. Over the same
period, the number of unemployed females was 65,600; this was a decline of
12,900,” the Director General outlined.

Additionally,
she said the unemployment rate for youth, aged 14 to 24, fell by 6.4 percentage
points from 25.9 per cent in April 2018, to 19.5 per cent this year

“The
unemployment rate for male youth declined by 6.4 percentage points to 14.5 per
cent, while the rate for female youth declined by 6.6 percentage points to 25.8
per cent,” Coy said.

She pointed
out that the overall employed labour force increased by 29,900 persons or 2.5
per cent to 1,244,500, over the 1,214,600 for April 2018.

Coy further
indicated that the number of employed males rose by 18,200 persons to 691,500,
while the number of females in jobs increased by 11,700 to 553,000.

The total
labour force increased to 1,349,900 persons, which is 4,000 more than 2018.

In addition,
the number of males qualifying for jobs rose by 5,200 persons to 731,400, while
the corresponding figure for females decreased by 1,200 to 618,500 in April
2019.

Meanwhile, Coy
advised that 736,900 persons were classified as being outside the labour force
in April 2019.

The number was 4,800 or 0.7 per cent fewer than the outturn in April 2018, and was predominantly males.

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