“The level of support is overwhelming. Wherever we go across the island, persons commend the Government on the smart LED lights. It is a holistic approach that we are taking as it relates to offsetting our energy bill while, at the same time, preserving our environment,” he said. Mr. Wheatley explained that while the primary aim of the programme is to reduce the country’s energy costs, an additional benefit is the safety and security component where the smart technology provides support in crime-fighting, through the use of image sensing, including closed-circuit television (CCTV). “Jamaica is moving forward, and we have to ensure that we have an environment that is safe and secure for our people. We are putting measures in place for the safety and security of our people,” the Energy Minister said. The Smart LED Street Light Programme will target 110,000 street lights across Jamaica over the next three years. The programme is part of an agreement between the Government and the power company to replace outdated infrastructure with modern, efficient street lights.
She reiterated that the system will be trustworthy and of international standards, which Jamaicans living in the diaspora and non-Jamaicans can rely on. “The law also provides for us to use international best practices for security and privacy issues. The law restricts what can be disclosed to people about you and me. Section 43 of the law provides that the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) shall not disclose identity information stored in the database about any individual, except where the information is disclosed pursuant to the request of the individual. What does that mean? Each of us can give permission for the information to be disclosed,” Mrs. Lynch-Stewart said. Following the implementation of NIDS, Jamaican citizens and legal residents will require only one ID to guarantee freedom of access to government and private-sector services. This is to ensure the safety and security of their identities while improving their quality of life through boosting efficiency and reducing costs. The roll-out of NIDS is slated to begin with a pilot project in January 2019 focusing on civil servants. The layered roll-out and management of the NIDS will be handled by the NIRA, which will replace the Registrar General’s Department (RGD).
Mr. Barnett noted that there are a number of those communities and it would be more suitable to have other systems to provide potable water. “Those days when people used to invest in rainwater harvesting, we need to revisit that. It’s a significant area that must be part of any solution in solving and providing access to potable water. We have to now look again at community catchment systems,” he suggested. “Tanks that were community catchments, those need to be revitalised, reactivated and utilised as part of the modality of providing water,” he added. Mr. Barnett said that where Municipal Corporations operate these facilities, including major stand-alone wells and water acquirers that are used to provide piped water to small communities, the NWC will assist by providing experts to guide their efficient operations.
The State Minister noted that during the amnesty, motorists will not be denied the option of contesting their tickets in court, however, they will be required to abide by the decision of the court and cannot thereafter utilize the amnesty offer. He urged motorists to use the period to become compliant, warning that those who do not avail themselves of the amnesty “will be vigorously pursued by the strong arm of the law after the amnesty period is concluded.” The State Minister informed that the monies collected will be used to purchase vehicles, equipment and technology for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); strengthen the cyber security network; upgrade the ticket management system used by the TAJ and the JCF; modernize the methods used by the Ministry of Transport and Mining to enforce the new Traffic Act; and modernise the court system and hire more judges. In the meantime, Mr. Charles Jr. informed that security will be beefed up at the collectorates and additional cashiers put in place to deal with the large influx of motorists anticipated. The previous amnesty period, which ran from August 2 to October 31, resulted in payments of over $590 million from the processing of more than 260,000 tickets. In addition, 45,000 calls were made to the Traffic Amnesty Call Centre. Up to December 31, 2016, outstanding traffic tickets totaled in excess of $2.84 billion
In addition, Mr. Chuck said the rules are silent on what should happen to a JP who has been criminally charged or convicted. “This deficit in the law must be arrested immediately,” Mr. Chuck emphasised. “Another issue is the perennial problem of JPs losing their seals through negligence, and the Government must fork out 50 per cent of the replacement cost of the seal, and the JP only being required to pay 50 per cent. Statistics have shown that the majority of seals reported as stolen were stolen after being left in parked motor vehicles. The Government cannot continue to fund negligence,” he said. Mr. Chuck said there is also the issue of whether it is proper for a JP to charge a fee for his services in that office, adding that the traditional functions of JPs have changed over time, and so, the law must be developed in recognition of this. “As it relates to the name of the Petty Sessions Court, from as far back as 2007, a Task Force mandated to review and make recommendations for the improvement of our justice system recommended that the name of the Petty Sessions Court be changed to the Lay Magistrates’ Court,” he noted. According to the Task Force, this will change the public’s perception of this Court, as, often times, Lay Magistrates are not afforded the respect of other judicial officers, despite the serious nature of their role. “So, it is for all the above reasons, and more, that the law must be refined and clarified to reflect the increasing significance of the Office of the Justice of the Peace to our society,” Mr. Chuck said. For the Justice of the Peace Bill, Clause 5 provides guidance on the appointment of Justices. Clause 7 imposes a duty on the JPs to observe the Code of Conduct or face being penalised for misconduct, while Clause 8 removes the restrictions to serve only in the JP’s parish of residence. In terms of the Courts of Petty Sessions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, Clause 2 provides for the renaming of the Courts of Petty Sessions to the Lay Magistrates’ Courts.
“I am very happy to sign the loan agreement… . I believe that this is a good project for energy conservation, which is important for Jamaica. This programme is in accordance with Vision 2030, which is the national development plan of Jamaica and contributes to achieve the outcome in energy security and efficiency. We expect a great synergy effect with this programme,” Mr. Maeda said. EMEP, which is being executed by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) consists of three components. Component one involves retrofitting the Health, Education and Public Agency (HEPA) government facilities. Energy efficiency and conservation measures will be undertaken in 73 HEPAs, including comprehensive retrofitting and installing light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Under component two, an Urban Traffic Management System (UTMS) will be implemented in Kingston. This involves installation of a central control platform for traffic monitoring, closed-circuit television cameras, and the training of National Works Agency (NWA) staff. Component three will focus on providing the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) with additional expertise. Training will be undertaken to support the implementation of an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to guide the development of a modern energy sector in Jamaica; technical experts will be contracted in energy efficiency and demand side management; and technical studies undertaken to support the IRP.
The grant awards programme is being spearheaded by the Essential National Health Research Committee (ENHRC), which serves as the governing body for the coordination of research for health in Jamaica. Chairman of the ENHRC, Professor Rainford Wilks, said increased research can lead to improvements in the overall health of Jamaicans, thereby helping the country to achieve a healthy and stable population. “The provision of these grants is a key step in encouraging research in the priority areas and stimulating all aspects of ENHR,” he said. He said the top-10 priority areas are universal access to health and universal health coverage; cancers, including cervical, breast, colon, prostate and their general outcomes and epidemiology; successful interventions for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension; factors affecting and the impact of violence and injuries (including intentional and unintentional injuries); and neglected tropical diseases and emerging and re-emerging diseases such as Zika, chikungunya and Ebola;. Also being given priority is research into the financial sustainability for health; estimates of disease burden; the cost of disease burden; diabetes mellitus, including its effect on pregnancy; and the social determinants of infant, child and adolescent health (including mortality). Grant awardees are encouraged to present their findings at the annual National Health Research Conference. They will also be expected to develop findings into full manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and may be asked to participate in other health fora.
He noted that while police officers work long and hard, often beyond the call of duty, many times they are not thanked for their dedicated service. Police Commissioner, George Quallo, also lauded the members, noting that their consistent display of integrity, professionalism, passion for policing and deep-seated commitment to being agents of positive change across Jamaica “has set you apart”. “You have given (and continue to give) yeoman service to our nation. Each day, you show up for work, leaving your families, to serve persons (some of whom) you have never met. Through your efforts, you have helped to build Jamaica,” Mr. Quallo said. The awards ceremony, which is the brainchild of Mr. Montague, coincided with the JCF’s 150th anniversary celebrations. More than 70 awards, citations and certificates were presented to members from the various Divisions, in recognition of sterling service in their respective areas. One minute’s silence was also observed in memory of the officers who died in the line of duty.
Among the risks identified by the IMF is the challenge of public-sector reform and ongoing public-sector wage negotiations. The Fund says there is need to free up resources through redesigning public-sector wage scales to retain skilled employees and to appropriately reward performance. “This would pave the way for rebalancing public spending from wages to growth-enhancing outlays on health (where Jamaica’s expenditures are relatively low), education (where an overly large share of expenditures is on wages), security and capital spending,” the Fund says. The Fund also mentions weather-related shocks as potential risks to the programme, highlighting growing concern about the issue of climate change. The international lending agency praises the Government for the fact that “inflation and the current account deficit remain subdued”. It also commends the Government for its divestment programme, observing that “the authorities are accelerating their efforts to divest underutilised public assets and using proceeds towards public debt reduction”. The Fund cites the Government’s “sustained commitment (to macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline)” and the ongoing programme monitoring by civil society that has paved the way for the reforms to be “domestically owned, designed and executed”.