THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN NEWS STORIES
GOVERNMENT CUTS $31 BILLION FROM BUDGET
Jamaica’s Office of the Prime Minister announced considerable increases for national security, tourism, education, and road repairs in the national budget for the new fiscal year, which starts on April 1, 2018. However, the budget totaling about $773.7 billion will also include cuts totaling $31.8 billion, compared to the previous fiscal year. Debt payments represent nearly 40 percent of the government’s planned expenditures: $136.9 billion in interest and $152 billion in amortization. The Finance Ministry will receive the largest increase.
GOVERNMENT TO BUILD FACILITIES FOR HOMELESS, INDIGENT
Jamaica’s government plans to build two drop-in facilities in Trelawny and St. Thomas in 2018 designed to serve as temporary accommodations for transient homeless individuals. The facilities will bring the total of drop-in centers on the island to eight. They are being provided under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development. According to Patrick Allen, Jamaica’s Governor-General, the government has plans to build for homes for registered indigent people in 2018, as well as fire stations in Montego Bay, Port Maria and Yallahs. These will be part of the World Bank Disaster Vulnerability Project administered by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS STORIES
CARIBBEAN SAW RECORD NUMBER OF TOURISTS IN 2017 DESPITE STORMS
In spite of the devastating damage wrought by historically strong storms, the Caribbean region had a record 30 million visitors in 2017. The record number of visitors spent a total of $37 billion, which represents an increase of three percent in 2017 compared with 2016, according to Ryan Skeete, the acting research director for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, which is based in Barbados. Most visitors came from the United States, but there were also increased numbers of visitors from Canada and Europe. This was the eighth year of growth in a row for the Caribbean.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS STORIES
STUDY: JAMAICA LOSING BILLIONS OF POTENTIAL DOLLARS FROM DIASPORA
According to a study from the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and the Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI), Jamaica could be gaining up to US$6 billion in economic value per year from the Diaspora, but is plateaued at US$4 billion, chiefly due to the lack of a clear engagement strategy. The study, ‘The Economic Value of the Jamaican Diaspora,’ recommended tailoring engagement initiatives to the needs of the people, which can be determined through improved data collection. Investment represents the area with the greatest untapped economic potential, according to the study.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS STORIES
AFTER BOBSLED TEAM”S COACH QUITS, RED STRIPE OFFERS TO BUY NEW SLED
Following the unexpected departure of the coach of Jamaica’s Olympic women’s bobsled team, Sandra Kiriasis, who threatened to take the team’s sled with her, The Red Stripe Beer company has offered to purchase a new sled for the team to use in competition. Kiriasis claims she owns the team sled and sought to take it with her when she quit over what she said was a demotion. She asked payment for the sled, but the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation declined and disputed her claim of ownership. Red Stripe, which is brewed in Jamaica, made the offer of a new sled when it heard of the problem. Andrew Anguin, the firm’s senior marketing manager, said Red Stripe wants to show its support for the women’s team and started a dialogue with a representative of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation to determine the way forward.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT NEWS STORIES
CULTURE MINISTRY EXPLAINS FUNDS GIVEN TO REGGAE ARTISTES
Jamaica’s Ministry of Culture stated that Jamaican reggae artistes who receive funds via the Tour Support Program are monitored and evaluated to ensure that Jamaica’s brand is actually promoted on their performance tours. The program is designed to make the national brand stronger through the world in media markets and partnerships. Gillian Wilkinson McDaniel, the senior director for entertainment in the Ministry, said trip reports and other marketing documents are provided to the Ministry. In an example of the funding, reggae artiste Etana received a grant of US$5,000 in support of her tour of 32 cities in the United States. Artistes may need to participate in some type of protocol training related to what occurs while they are on tour to be part of the program. The Artiste Ambassador Program was initiated by the Tourism Minister in 2013, with past recipients including Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Freddie McGregor and Raging Fyah.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS STORIES
WOMEN’S OLYMPIC BOBSLED TEAM LOSES COACH
Remaining positive following the departure of their coach Sandra Kiriasis, Jamaica’s first Olympic women’s bobsled team says it will be alright. The Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (JBSF) has stated that neither the association nor the athletes will be affected by Kiriasis quitting. The team continues to prepare for its debut on the Olympic stage in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Kiriasis was a world, European, and Olympic champion who competed for Germany. According to Kathleen Pulito, an official at the JBSF, the team’s unity has improved since she left, noting that the situation has brought the team even closer. The Federation said that the team is moving forward with its own personnel, but will accept assistance from the Canadian team if necessary.