Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid
Please see the following Cabinet Decisions since the last briefing.
Cabinet approved the following for tabling in Parliament:
- Green Paper – National Policy for the Reduction of Harmful Use of Alcohol
Cabinet has been advised in a submission by the Minster of Health that alcohol is the most abused drug in Jamaica. In the Regional Status Report on Alcohol and Health in the Americas – Washington DC 2015, Jamaica had the highest rate of male students in the Americas (43.5%) between the ages of 13 – 15 reporting to having been drunk at least once. Subsequent reports undertaken by the Ministry– Student Based School Health Survey on High Schools alcohol intake and National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) National Drug Use Prevalence Survey 2016 on alcohol consumption in Jamaica, indicated the need for a comprehensive plan to effect change in this behaviour. The Cabinet was advised of a proposal for a 15-year plan of implementation of policy measures focussed on ensuring SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being for all Jamaicans (of all ages). This will be explored in the proposed Green Paper.
- Supreme Court Easter Term Statistical Report
Cabinet was informed that with the hiring of a statistician by the Supreme Court since 2016 the tabling of reports reflecting activity with the courts system has now become routine. The Easter Report includes, for example, case activity across courts – notably new cases as well as cases disposed of; the average case clearance rate across the courts, the challenges relating to strict adherence to dates set for trial due the high incidence of adjournments; and the establishment of a court-wide target of a 95% trial and hearing date certainty over the next 6 years. It was noted that a backlog remains in some areas, in particular divorce cases, and efforts are being made for divorce and probate cases to be cleared within four months.
- The Financial Deepening Agenda
Cabinet has been notified of plans, which will see the development of significant areas of opportunities that could promote financial deepening and catalyse greater economic activity.
This set of activities being undertaken has been built on the work being done under the financial inclusion strategy and takes into account findings of the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. There are near medium and long-term goals set for implementation of the Financial Deepening Strategy, which includes using technology to support accessibility to finance. There will be an inter-agency approach inclusive of the Bank of Jamaica, Jamaica Stock Exchange, the Development Bank of Jamaica and the Financial Services Commission. The Ministry of Finance will provide a more detailed review of this plan.
IV: ECI Practitioners exempt from fees payments
Cabinet has granted approval for all practitioners at registered Early Childhood Institutions to be exempt from paying for police records, medical reports and food handlers’ permit. All three related ministries (Education, Youth and Information; National Security and Health) will absorb the relevant fees in their budgets as needed.
The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) will monitor and verify only those approved practitioners to be exempted from payment. They will still be required to get annual renewals to be fully compliant with the requisite legislation and to operate within the Commission’s operational standards.
Senator Ruel Reid
Minister of Information
Minister Daryl Vaz Remarks
Overview of the Master Plan
- To accommodate future population growth for the Kingston Metropolitan Region, created by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in collaboration with several key stakeholders from both the private and public sector. It is the intention of the plan to guide the management and development of the area for the next 20 years after which it is expected to be revised or replaced by a new master plan.
- To create and sustain a vibrant resilient community and to protect its character and longevity, while tackling the challenges of affordable housing, transportation access to jobs and services.
Overview of the Enterprise Team
- To give oversight to the implementation of the Cabinet’s decision, including the operationalisation of the Master Plan and ensuring that the activities undertaken comply with the policy direction of the Government of Jamaica.
Main Areas of Concern
Provision of Drinking Water
- The water being provided for the Development by the National Water Commission will be sourced external to the alluvial aquifer.
- The dedicated 3imperial million per gallon (imgd) will be sourced from a new Rio Cobre 15imgd Treatment Plant. There are three Potable Water lines, two to Portmore Area and one dedicated to the Development.
- One of the Potable Water line to the Portmore Area is currently being rehabilitated to increase the capacity and should be completed early next year.
- The construction of the Rio Cobre Treatment Plant will commence shortly.
- There is also a storage facility that will be constructed at Windsor Heights or at a location to be decided for emergency purposes.
- New sewerage trunk line to convey sewerage from the Development will be constructed. Land is available for the Phase 2(3rd Cluster) treatment facility to serve the Development area.
The development area sits on top of an aquifer which is a major potable source of water within Portmore and is also used for the irrigation of agricultural lands. The aquifer, however, faces the risk of contamination with additional development within the area along with other factors. Various measures will, therefore, be implemented to ensure the health of underlying aquifer:
- Increase the amount of permeable surface by reducing hardscape surfaces where possible and maximizing the use of permeable paving elsewhere, including EARTHEN DRAINAGE.
- Implement strategies to prevent or reduce pollution of the aquifer.
- Ensure maximum preservation of existing wells and associated infrastructure through incorporating a 30m buffer by designing parklets at each well site.
- Integrating and dispersing retention areas within the development to capture runoff, filter pollutants and maximize infiltration.
- Monitoring draw-offs from wells and augmenting with harvested rainwater and storage facilities.
- Protection of existing springs with a 30m buffer zone.
To prevent the contamination of the aquifer and ensure the best health for the area’s environment and people, a meticulous waste management system will have to be adopted.
- Introducing of closed underground garbage silos throughout the development that will be able to store more garbage and therefore require less frequent collection, along with mitigation against rodent infestation and odour pollution.
- Promote recycling through the provision of separation bins.
- Development of closed sewage system to prevent potential contamination of aquifer.
- Relocation of the existing sewerage treatment facilities to an area outside of the Aquifer Protection Zone.
- Grouping of large waste producers such as light industrial businesses on estates with centralized garbage maintenance systems.
- A Drainage Consultant is being hired to produce Detailed Drainages Design that will foster recharge of the alluvial aquifer by means of soft drainage also known as Earthen Drainage.
Impact on the existing Road Infrastructure of the Greater Portmore Area
- Grange Lane (Municipal Boulevard to Passagefort)– Dualise the road and add traffic signals to facilitate pedestrian crossing and all junctions operating safely and efficiently; as well as install new sidewalks and street lights. Road Length 0.5km. Designs completed and costed.
Increases traffic Capacity and reduces travel time by 45%.
- Dunbeholden Main Road – Dualise the road and add traffic signals to facilitate pedestrian crossing and all junctions operating safely and efficiently; as well as install new sidewalks and street lights. New four-lane bridge across Highway 2000 East West. Not yet designed. Road Length 6.2km. Designs completed and costed. Increases traffic Capacity and reduces travel time by 55%. Reduces the potential for deadly head-on collisions.
- Passage Fort/ Dyke Road intersection – Signalise and widen to add the requisite number of lanes. Road Length 0.2KM. Designs to be reviewed. Increases safety and performance of this junction by 35%.
Bernard Lodge Main Road – General rehabilitation corridor improvement and improved traffic management particularly where it meets Lakes Pen and Port Henderson. Road Length 5.0 Km. Not yet designed. Increases traffic Capacity and reduces travel time by 25% for this critical link. Reduces the potential for deadly head-on collisions.
Hon Fayval Williams, Minister without Portfolio, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service
Since our last post-cabinet press briefing on Nov 12th, I have the following items to report:
The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) announced that GDP for the July – Sept quarter is estimated to have growth 1.9%, making that the 15th quarter of consecutive or back-to-back positive GDP growth. This is the first time if you look back over the last 20 years that we have had such a long stretch of GDP growth on a quarter-by-quarter basis. In the services sector, hotel & restaurant and Transport, Storage and Communications were the fastest growing industries at 2% and 1.4% respectively. In the Goods Producing sector, Mining & Quarrying was the star performer at 54% growth followed by construction at 3%. The Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Statin, is expected to release the actual GDP figures for the July – Sept quarter on December 31st.
Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA)
In its recently published Financial System Stability Assessment report of the Jamaican financial sector, the IMF concluded that the financial sector had significantly expanded since the IMF’s last assessment in 2006, some 12 years ago. It currently stands at about 180 percent of GDP and is dominated by large and complex financial conglomerates that span many activities, including banking, insurance, pension fund management, and collective investment fund management. The IMF noted that since the 2006 assessment, successive governments have considerably strengthened macroeconomic policies, including under IMF-supported programs.
Finally, this week, we have many things to celebrate:
I have picked 3.
1) UNESCO’s decision to add reggae music to its global heritage list declaring it a treasure that must be safe guarded.
2) Dalton Harris winning on the x-Factor show
3) Caribbean Airlines turning a profit.
It is very clear why we are celebrating reggae as a global treasure and fellow Jamaican Dalton Harris. For Caribbean Airlines, you have to go back in history to understand the celebration. You may recall, Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL), which was launched in 2007 was merged approximately three years later in 2010 with Jamaica’s flagship airline Air Jamaica, with Government of Jamaica owning approximately 16% of the combined entities and Government of T&T owning 84% at that time. This year Caribbean Airlines has turned a profit. Nine months of profitability totalled TT$96 million (US$15.36 million). The airlines have also made great strides and is now ranked 25th of 164 global airlines as of September 2018, by the OAG (Official Aviation Guide) Star Ranking. Caribbean Airlines operate more than 600 weekly flights to 20 destinations in the Caribbean, North and South America. One has to celebrate when an airline makes money.
Upcoming releases are the Consumer Price Index for October 2018 which will be published on December 17.
Producer Price Index for November 2018 which will be released on December 27.