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Lower electricity cost to attract more int’l investors, Tapia tells Jamaica

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Lower electricity cost to attract more int’l investors, Tapia tells Jamaica

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia says the high electricity cost in Jamaica is a major stumbling block when it comes to attracting world-class companies willing to set up factories here.

“The cost of energy must come down. It has to come down,” Tapia argued.

The current electricity rate is 28 American cents per kilowatt-hour.

But Tapia argued that even though energy cost has been lowered in Jamaica over the past five years, the need still exists for a further slashing of the rates.

“You have done a great job in the last five to six years in bringing the cost of energy down. And if you can bring it down another six cents per kilowatt-hour, Jamaica would explode because now we are in the marketplace. We are in the marketplace that we can attract manufacturers, and so forth, here,” Tapia said.

He noted that the same renewable energy sources which the United States have utilised to bring down electricity cost, are available in Jamaica and should be employed to bring affordable electricity to rural areas.

“We (America) have brought down the electricity cost through liquefied natural gas (LNG), wind and and solar power — this is something that is here. We (Jamaica) have the sun, we have the wind, let’s use it for our own benefit to be able to transform electricity out to the other areas where it’s hard to reach some of the Jamaican people. This is not right,” the US ambassador said.

“It’s our job, as entrepreneurs and so forth, to see what we can do to help out parishes that we all know about…I have been here only for four months and I can tell you, I have visited all [the] parishes.”

He was speaking at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Saturday night.

Tapia said he has “actively helped Jamaican companies find US suppliers”.

“In September I led a delegation of Jamaicans, private and public sector, to Salt Lake City, including Energy Minister Fayval Williams, to a power international North American renewable energy conference. We took private sector, we showed electric buses, LNG buses that could be used here in Jamaica to cut down on carbon footprints, also save energy in Jamaica. My team at the embassy, as well as the Government officials from Washington, has so far been assisting Jamaican companies,” Tapia remarked.

President of the MBCCI Janet Silvera, who trumpeted Montego Bay’s contribution to the country’s economy, noted that the city’s success did not happen overnight.

“It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because at every juncture in our history, not just once, not just twice, but over and over again, we came together to recreate ourselves; we came together, as one, and did what was necessary to win the future,” Silvera said.

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‘Informer fi dead’ culture hindering police investigations, says DCP

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‘Informer fi dead’ culture hindering police investigations, says DCP

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 24, 2020

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DEPUTY Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey says that the culture of “informer fi dead”, which persists in some Jamaican communities, has significantly restricted the police’s investigative capacity.

DCP Bailey, who was responding to questions from members of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Wednesday, said that although there is more room for improvement in the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) intelligence system, the inability to charge some suspects is primarily due to a lack of evidence from witnesses.

“There is room for improvement in our intelligence [system], but I think that it is the culture which exists in Jamaica. As you rightly said, in many instances, we know who are the perpetrators, and while we rely on scientific evidence, scientific evidence can only take us [so far] and no more,” Bailey admitted.

“I think that, as a nation, we have to have a conversation for individuals to understand that they have a responsibility as well, to support law enforcement and ensure that the rule of law is maintained. The culture of ‘informer fi dead’ is significantly impacting on our investigative capacity and capability,” he added.

The DCP was responding to a question from Opposition Member of Parliament Dwight Vaz (Central Westmoreland) about the capacity of the JCF’s intelligence system to impact the trials of criminals without relying on witnesses.

“We have a witness protection programme that is available… [but] a lot of people are not willing to accept the offer, and one can understand because you have to change a number of things. But, it is something that we have to encourage because of the level of violence which exists in the society,” Bailey noted.

“So you are correct, in many instances we know, and many of those people are incarcerated. We know that they are involved and we can say what crimes they are involved in, but until the witnesses are willing to come forward… And we talk about the trust factor, which is real, but there are many avenues that are available through which persons can tell the security forces what has happened without any breach of trust,” he pointed out.

Bailey said that, in terms of the police’s intelligence capabilities, not everything can be disclosed, but in terms of threats to lives, the police have saved in excess of 400 people every year, on average, because of their intelligence mechanism that is in place.

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Mad rush for ‘Learner’s’ Applicants swell to 5,000 to avoid road code test

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Mad rush for ‘Learner’s’ Applicants swell to 5,000 to avoid road code test

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Hundreds of Jamaicans wishing to obtain provisional driver’s licences have been rushing to Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) offices in an effort to avoid sitting a road code test which will become mandatory after January 25.

Yesterday, Meris Haughton, chief corporate communications officer at TAJ, said at the start of this month the tax authorities were processing 500 applications daily. However, on Wednesday they received more than 5,000 applications.

Full story in today’s Auto magazine.


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Lawyer to again try to quash case against Reid, Pinnock

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ATTORNEY Hugh Wildman turned up at court yesterday with the intention of having the criminal charges against Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock, former education minister Ruel Reid and his daughter Sharelle and wife Sharen, and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence overturned.

However, that did not materialise.

Instead, Wildman will have to wait until April 8, when all the accused return to court.

During the unsuccessful application to have the case quashed, Wildman argued that the Financial Investigations Division (FID), under the FID Act, has no jurisdiction or power to institute criminal charges against anybody in Jamaica.

Noting that Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is in agreement with his argument, Wildman said he was prepared to examine the ruling that was handed down last year.

“I don’t have the time for that,” chief parish Judge Chester Crooks uttered.

Wildman’s application came to a halt.

Crooks told him that it would be unfair to the Crown Counsel, who had indicated prior to his application that she needed more time to comprehensively review the file.

“…Perhaps your argument will find favour, perhaps, whether the matter ought to move forward and so on, but I’ll suggest — I am not saying that your submissions are not relevant today — I suggest we put it for another day to afford the Crown time to do that, review the file, so that they can say definitively what their position is and then you can make the relevant submission,” Crooks suggested.

Crooks also suggested to Wildman that he put his submission in writing, given the fact that time has passed.

Wildman replied: “I accept… it is just that for the purpose of the record I just want to make this point that based on the will of the chief justice, my client and these accused persons are not properly before the court, and it seems to me that in those circumstances, your honour, it is a matter of absolute urgency that this matter be dealt with. Because, right now, the State is facing a situation where they have charged persons without proper basis, and what will eventually have to happen enuh, they may have to [do] a supplementary budget to pay them in civil suit.”

Wildman continued: “The honourable chief justice came right down the line with our application, agreeing with everything on the interpretation of the law — everything. And just at the end, your honour, when he was to make that go through the tape and quash these charges, then he fell down like Bolt in England… Luckily, what we have done, your honour, is to restart the race and so the matter is going before three judges on the 10th of next month to restart the race so that we can get a better finish.”

Wildman said, too, that the chief justice agreed that the FID has no power to do what it did.

“He said, ‘come to Half-Way-Tree and quash it,’ that is why I am making this application… that is what he is saying in his judgement,” Wildman stated.

Last December, the men, in the application brought by Wildman, asserted that they were arrested and charged by the FID, which was established by Section 4 of the Financial Investigations Division Act, arguing that the FID does not have the power to arrest and charge anyone. They said that, by arresting both applicants, the FID acted outside of its statutory powers and, therefore, what it did was a nullity leading them to seek leave for judicial review.

Justice Sykes, in ruling on the matter then, said the court is of the view that the police officers in this case who arrested and charged the applicants were never designated under Section 2 of the FID Act, and that any power of arrest and charge that they used could only be by virtue of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) powers found under The Constabulary Force Act.

“Consequently, it was not FID that arrested and charged the applicants, but JCF officers in their capacity as JCF officers,” the chief justice ruled, adding, “that still leaves open the question of whether the JCF officers utilised any power under the FID Act when they were not authorised to do.

“If yes, that might raise admissibility issues which can be addressed during the criminal trial,” Chief Justice Sykes said in the ruling.

He said: “The court has come to this position on the basis of the absence of evidence that the police officers were authorised officers under [the] FID Act.”

“I make no pronouncement on the credibility of any of the deponents in this case. This means that this decision must not be understood as indicating that the deponents for the respondents were found to be more credible than applicants,” said Sykes.

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Naming baby Bolt

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CELEBRITY baby names have long been a source of intrigue for celebrity watchers. One need look no further than the 100-1 odds bookmakers put on the Sussex’s bundle, Archie Harrison last year.

The celebrity status of the newborn is one thing, but the excitement is fuelled by the fact that celebs are known for choosing unusual monikers — Kulture, Blue Ivy, Onyx, and Psalm being among the lot among US A-listers.

On home soil, people are already brimming with possible options for the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, and his girlfriend Kasi Bennett. The couple released photos of the baby bump on social media yesterday, but withheld the sex. That didn’t stop Jamaicans from weighing in on what Baby Bolt should be named.

 

Marie Marsh, Beauty Therapist

BOY: Niasu

GIRL: Kasain

 

Donovan “Merryman” Whyte, Barber

BOY:Usain Jr

GIRL: Kasiana

 

Orville Wallace, Retiree

BOY: Ensain

GIRL: Kaisanya

 

Sheldon White, Barber

BOY: Ashauni

GIRL: Kayla-Dae

 

Sherona Peterkin, Bartender

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: Kasi-Ann

 

Nathaniel “Natty” Anderson, Vendor

BOY: (Undecided)

GIRL: U-anna

 

Natalie Blake, Cook

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: “A mix of mommy and daddy’s middle name”

 

Asheca Williams, Sales Rep

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: Ushauna

 

Canute Webb, Sales Associate

BOY: Usain Jr,

GIRL” “Something starting with ‘U’”

 

Dianna Simon, sales advisor

UNISEX: Kasain

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Crime Stop Jamaica gets new manager

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CHERISE Bruce-Douglas has been appointed manager of the National Crime Prevention Fund, otherwise known as Crime Stop Jamaica Her appointment became effective on January 2, 2020 and she replaces Prudence Gentles who has retired.

Bruce-Douglas, who has been with the National Crime Prevention Fund since November 2016, will now assume responsibilities for the overall management of the organisation, communications and outreach.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminology from The University of West Indies, Mona, and Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Law Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York.

Gentles served in the role for 27 years, during which she pioneered several causes and marketing campaigns for the organisation including the popular Crime Stop television show and more recently CS311.

She further initiated several successful partnerships with other agencies and international partners as a measure to secure funding for the organisation.

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NCB Foundation backs digital literacy initiatives

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CHIEF executive officer of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation, Nadeen Matthews Blair, has highlighted a need for digital literacy in Jamaica, signalling the foundation’s commitment to funding training opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other non-traditional fields.

“We want to become the most impactful foundation in education, but we realise that supporting Jamaicans through tertiary-level education is not the only opportunity,” Matthews Blair, who is also the chief digital and marketing officer for National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited, told reporters and editors at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

“When we look at the world and the emerging careers in tech (technology), you have persons who are not necessarily pursuing tertiary-level degrees, but who are still gaining skills that are relevant and helping them to become gainfully employed,” she said.

The CEO said that training opportunities funded by the foundation will be geared towards building the capacity of Jamaicans to work in a digital economy. She went on to list initiatives that are to come on stream, which will target at-risk youth for training in emerging career fields such as data science, software development, animation, digital forensics, and data analytics.

“When people talk about the workforce of the future, these really are the jobs that we need,” said Matthews Blair, adding that there is a lack of software developers and cybersecurity experts in Jamaica.

The bank’s head of digital disclosed that a coding boot camp, which will be done in partnership with HEART Trust/National Training Agency, the Development Bank of Jamaica and other international partners, is to be rolled out.

“We are in the early stages of partnering with Alto Ventures, which is a venture capital fund out of the United States that has announced that they want to train 1,000 Jamaicans in coding,” Matthews Blair disclosed.

“We are putting up a combined US$500,000 to fund the programme, which will take 1,000 Jamaicans through a coding boot camp that they have administered in the United States, as well as in Mexico City.

“We have had discussions with HEART Trust, and we have also partnered with the OAS (Organization of American States) on a programme to help at-risk youth — some of whom are not in high school — get access to digital literacy skills so that they, too, can, over time, get back on track to becoming gainfully employed and productive citizens of our country,” she explained, adding that they are now at the point of signing a memorandum of understanding with three local entities.

“We are approaching this strategy primarily through partnerships, because we have not worked intensely in the space of unattached youth or at-risk youth for a long time, but there are a number of fantastic organisations already in Jamaica that have experience in that area,” she said. “We have been partnering with various organisations that are already in the space, and bringing together international partnerships and providing the funding to create new training opportunities for at-risk youth in emerging careers.”

The NCB Foundation, which is marking 16 years since its inception in 2003, will also be funding a robotics programme in 30 high schools across Jamaica to the tune of $5 million. The initiative will be administered by NCB affiliate partner, FIRST Tech Challenge Jamaica, a local robotics programme that has produced teams that have gone on to dominate in global championships.

Head of FIRST Tech Challenge Gavin Samuels told reporters that the programme will not only help to support this year’s competitors, but will also give participants the skills needed in a technology-driven world.

“We are going to advance two teams from Jamaica to international championships, and I believe that the students who are part of this programme will go on to support the Government, Jamaica, and the world in the future,” said Samuels.

Matthews Blair said that building the digital literacy of Jamaicans will help to position Jamaica and Jamaicans to participate in a digital economy, which will boost overall national development.

“We see that the Government is now speaking about it in a serious way [in relation to the National Identification System], so we want to make sure that we help as many Jamaicans be positioned for that as best as possible.

“Not many countries have the appeal Jamaica has. When we get the resource to fund these programmes, the question is what can’t a Jamaican do. It is not just about getting jobs, but also the entrepreneurial capacity that we could potentially unlock with them developing their own tech companies, or other companies,” said Matthews Blair.

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