Senator Ruel Reid – Information Minister
1: Cabinet has approved the following for tabling in Parliament:
- Urban Development Corporation 2014/15 & 2015/16
- Jamaica Mortgage Bank 2017/18
- National Road Operating and Construction Company NROCC – 2016/17
- University Council of Jamaica 2017/18. It was noted that the UCJ is up to date in its reporting.
- All Island Cane Farmers Association for year ended September 30, 2017
- National Irrigation Commission (NIC) for year ended March 31, 2016
- Chief Justices Statistical report on Parish Courts July to September 2018
2: Award of Contracts
New 2MVA Standby Generator and accesses at NMIA
Cabinet has approved the award of a contract for the supply and installation of a new 2 MVA Caterpillar Standby Generator Set and accessories at the Norman Manley International Airport. The contract was awarded to IMCA Jamaica Ltd by the use of direct contracting methodology, in the sum of one million, two hundred and twenty-nine thousand, three hundred US dollars (US$1,229,300.00).
Gabion Wall Construction and Road Works – Sir John Golding Road
Cabinet approved the award of a contract to Chins Construction Company in the sum of sixty-two million, nine hundred and eighty-seven thousand, five hundred dollars ($62,987,500.00) to undertake road rehabilitation and drainage improvement works along the Sir John Golding Road in St Andrew.
Supply of Coastal Surveillance Systems to JDF
Cabinet approved the award of a contract to the Thales Group to supply Coastal Surveillance System, ‘Coast Watcher 100” as one component of the Maritime Domain Awareness Capability initiative of the Government. This contract with the Thales Group in France is in the sum of USD thirty million (US$30M) and will be paid over a period of three financial years beginning in the 2018/19 financial year.
Elhydro Kleenoil Bypass Filtration System in the JUTC Fleet
Cabinet has approved the award of a contract to Elhydro Incorporated for provision of materials, technical professional advice, and to perform all operations for the implementation of Phase 1 of the Elhydro Kleenoil Bypass Filtration System in the JUTC fleet of buses. The value of the contract is two hundred and fifty-one million, and fifty thousand dollars ($251,050,000.00).
Proposed Recruitment of Governor for the Bank of Jamaica
The Minister of Finance has indicated to the Cabinet the need to commence a formal search for a new governor for the BOJ.
It was noted that the contract for the current governor had been extended for two years and would expire in November 2019; that the governor had completed 10 years in the post and had successfully completed programmes of activities agree; and that the modernisation of the BOJ required certain changes including new leadership.
Cabinet has taken note of the plans of the Minister of Finance to formally inform the Opposition about this initiative and the establishment of the Search Committee.
Parliament was prorogued on February 12.
The tabling of the 2019/20 estimates of expenditure will be on February 14, 019
The next sitting of Parliament will be on Monday, March 4 2019
The establishment of the Standing Finance Committee for 2019/20 will review the Estimates of Expenditure on Monday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 5
The schedule of contributions to the Budget Debate is as follows:
- Minister of Finance opens the Debate Thursday, March 7, 2019
- Opposition spokesperson on Finance, Tuesday, March 12, 2019
- Leader of the Opposition Thursday, March 14, 2019
- Prime Minister Tuesday, March 19, 2019
- Minister Finance closes the Debate, Wednesday, March 20. 2019
Senator Ruel Reid
Minister of Information
STATEMENT ON PREPARATIONS FOR THE PRIMARY EXIT PROFILE EXAMS
Beginning February 26, 2019, the Ministry of Education Youth and Information will implement the New National Assessment Programme. Through the implementation of the National Standards Curriculum, the MoEYI over the last six years began working on the National Assessment Programme that would measure the achievement of the National Standards Curriculum.
The Primary Exit Profile will be administered annually in all primary level institutions at Grade 4, 5 and 6. For the academic year 2018/2019, the first cohort of students will sit the Grade 6 components starting with the Ability Test as scheduled on February 26, 2019, in 1104 centres across the island. The tests will be administered to students born 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The Ability Test measures students’ ability to reason with words and quantities (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning). It represents 30% of students’ profile. This test consists of 40 Single Select Multiple Choice items. Students will complete the test in a Test booklet (similar in layout as in the Practice papers distributed to the system) and not on an answer sheet.
PEP – Ability Test General Preparations for 2019
- Test materials are being packaged to be dispatched to the regions as scheduled:
|February 22, 2019
|PEP – Ability Test
|4, 3, 5
|February 25, 2019
|PEP – Ability Test
|6, 2 , 1
|Return date to SAU
|February 28, 2019
|PEP – Ability Test
|4, 3, 5
|February 27, 2019
|PEP – Ability Test
|6, 2 , 1
ALL REGIONS WILL DISTRIBUTE TO SCHOOLS ON Monday, February 25, 2019
- The training of presiding examiners and invigilators across all parishes was scheduled to be completed on February 13, 2019.
- Monitors are being recruited and trained to give support to the administration.
- Timetables were distributed to the schools in January 2019.
PEP number of students slated to sit the examination
All Schools – Total registered – 41,423
Boys – 21,548 Girls – 19,875
No. of males confirmed to sit: 20, 891
No. of females confirmed to sit: 19, 313
No. of registered, eligible students who have deferred: Female = 562: Male 657 = Total 1,219
Day of the examination
- Tuesday, February 26, 2019
As is customary, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will provide support for special needs students
A total of 304 students have submitted psycho-evaluation reports and these have been evaluated by the Special Education Unit. The recommendations which have been made have been communicated to approximately 95% of the students. The remaining reports are being prepared to be sent to the regions for the schools. In the interim, telephone calls are being made to the schools to inform the principals ahead of time. The regions have also been informed of the recommendations pertaining to each student. Special accommodation of a writer will only be for the Performance Tasks as this is the only component that the children are required to write, all other components required the students to shade a response. However, if the writing is impacted by physical disability, a writer will be given to these students.
Students will be granted an extra 30 minutes beyond the allotted two hours to complete their Performance Tasks and an extra 20 minutes for other exams which will range from one hour and 15 minutes for Abilities Test to one hour and 30 minutes for the Curriculum-Based Tests.
Performance Tasks in Language Arts and Mathematics
A performance task is an activity or assessment that asks students to solve a problem by
demonstrating their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. It is curriculum based and assesses students’ grasp of concepts, principles and procedures coming from content in Language Arts and Mathematics. The scores for the Performance Tasks for Language Arts and Mathematics will be combined with the scores the students received in the respective Curriculum Based Tests to give an overall score of the students’ achievement of the NSC for the different subject. Students will sit their Grade 6 Performance Tasks in their classroom under the supervision of their class teachers.
Days of the examination
- Wednesday, March 27, 2019 – Language Arts Performance Tasks
- Thursday, March 28, 2019– Mathematics Performance Tasks
Teachers are required to do an engagement activity with students prior to the tart of students doing their individual performance task. The intent of this engagement activity was to provide equity in the content knowledge that forms the scenario for each task. As such, teachers will received these Teacher Engagement Activities through training workshop planned for the first week of March 2019.
During the training, teachers will be taken through, among other things. the administrative procedure of the Performance Tasks as well as how the Teacher Activity should be used to bridge the gap, if any, that would be present when the students complete their individual tasks.
Curriculum Based Test
The Curriculum Based Test in Language Arts, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies will assess students’ knowledge and procedure at the Grade 6 level. It will be based on the Grade 6 Component for this subject area.
Papers and dates for exams
April 16, 2019 – Language Arts and Science
April 17, 2019 – Mathematics and Social Studies
How ready are the teachers?
- The teachers are aware that the different components of the tests.
- Active engagement of teachers started in September of this year. They have been actively preparing the students by utilizing the materials provided by the Ministry.
- Teachers at the Grade 6 level have been trained in Assessing the NSC.
- Quality Assurance Officers have been deployed to all Regions.
PEP Procedures to prevent leaking of test papers
- Unannounced visits to the printing facilities are being conducted
- Examination papers are stored in a vault
- Packaging of examination materials is done in a sterile area under strict supervision
Update on Financial Matters from The Honourable Fayval Williams
This morning I am calling your attention to the fact that the credit ratings on Jamaica’s global bonds continue to move in a positive direction with the latest being the international rating agency Fitch upgrade of the Government of Jamaica’s international debt to ‘B+’ from ‘B’, and revised the outlook to “Stable” from “Positive”. The Rating Agency also upgraded the country ceiling to ‘BB-from ‘B’, meaning that strong local entities can be rated as high as BB-. This is excellent news. It means, for example, that a Jamaican company with strong diversified earnings can have a rating that is not constrained by Jamaica’s country rating. Benefits of this for the company are lower funding costs and access to a wider base of potential investors.
Taken together, this is Jamaica’s highest rating in over ten (10) years from Fitch. The Government of Jamaica welcomes the rating upgrade and remains committed to the continuation of policies and programmes that enable a stable macroeconomic environment that facilitates the economic growth required for sustainable and inclusive development.
Fitch said the ratings are supported by Jamaica’s structural strengths, such as relatively high income per capita and social indicators, policy consensus and relatively strong institutional capacity. According to Fitch’s press release, positive performance indicators underpinning the upgrade in Jamaica’s credit rating include:
- The strong performance of tax revenues, increasing by 10.4 percent (year-on-year);
- The declining path of Jamaica’s public debt/GDP;
- The decrease in the government’s interest burden to an estimated 6.8 percent of GDP in FY2018/19 from 8.0 percent recorded in FY2014/15;
- Reduction in the unemployment rate to an all-time low of 9.1% in 2018 (annual average);
- Strong external liquidity;
- Structural indicators such as governance, human development per capita income;
- Reforms to strengthen the macroeconomic institutional framework, including the establishment of a fiscal council; and
- Cross-party support for economic reforms.
Internally within government, the GOJ will be implementing some key projects over the next 18 months to improve the levels of efficiency and quality of service delivery in the public sector. Minister Clarke unveiled these Thursday, February 7.
The projects, being coordinated by the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU), are the introduction of shared corporate services; human resource management transformation; the continued rationalisation of public bodies; public sector efficiency and ICT; and wage bill management.
Shared corporate services will begin in eight areas (Human Resource Management, Finance and Accounts, Procurement, Asset Management, IT Services, Internal Audit, Public Relations and Communication as well as the Centralisation of Legal Services under the Attorney General’s Department). Minister Clarke said that this will revolutionise the way the public sector works and the level of service that the government provides.
Min Clarke also announced that better use will be made of information and communication technology to re-engineer processes to achieve greater efficiency in how public services are delivered to citizens. This includes the rollout of a single IT network to provide connectivity across ministries, departments and agencies. This will enable integrated information sharing while reducing the cost of providing ICT services. This project will also upgrade and consolidate the GOJ’s data centres. Across the public bodies, twenty public bodies have been rationalised over the last two-year period through mergers, closures, divestments and integration into parent ministries.
You are well aware that there are approximately 190 public bodies. This creates an administrative and governance challenge. We are reducing the number of public bodies through merging entities that are similar in function, closing entities that have outlived their useful lives, divesting entities and very importantly integrating entities back into the parent ministries where it is no longer necessary to have a separate body set up by statute to deliver the function. Importantly, the function does not go away. Instead, the way in which the function is delivered changes.
Just to give you a comprehensive list among the entities merged:
Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning; National Youth Service, the Apprenticeship Board and the HEART/NTA;
The Office of the Children’s Registry and Child Development Agency;
The National Land Agency and the Land Administration and Management Programme.
Entities such as Kingston Waterfront Hotel and Portmore Commercial Development Limited; Port Authority Management Services; and the Road Maintenance Fund have been closed.
The functions of the Board of Supervision have been integrated into the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the functions of the National Family Planning Board and the National Council on Drug Abuse have been integrated into the Ministry of Health.