THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
2017/2018 BUDGET INCREASED DUE TO HUGE DEBT PAYMENT
The Jamaican government has announced that funds allocated for servicing the public debt will increase the national budget by about 20 percent in 2017/2018. The debt is serviced through the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. The budget rose from $582.7 billion in 2016 to $710 billion for 2017, but interest and amortization payments add about $310 billion more for 2017, indicating a focus on paying down the nation’s public debt.
PORTMORE MAYOR PUSHES FOR NEW PUBLIC HOSPITAL
Leon Thomas, the mayor of Portmore, stated that the municipal corporation will take action to build a hospital there to serve its growing population. According to Thomas, there are plans to add 2,000 more houses in Portmore, which will impose a greater strain on the Spanish Town Hospital, which is already operating under stress. Thomas called on Jamaica’s government to look into constructing a public hospital in Portmore, noting that the municipality has a number of available properties appropriate for the project. The municipal corporation has asked the Ministry of Health for information about proposed upgrades of two health facilities in Portmore designed to alleviate some of the strain on Spanish Town Hospital.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
172 CUBANS DETAINED BY U.S. FOLLOWING IMMIGRATION POLICY CHANGE
The United States is detaining at least 172 Cuban migrants after the end of its “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy. The Cuban nationals, who had attempted to enter the US after the policy was altered, are being held in detention facilities pending results of their removal proceedings. Authorities did not reveal the location(s) of the detention facilities. According to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, there had been an increase of 172 Cuban nationals in the agency’s detention since January 24, 2017, with two people already being “removed” to Cuba. In January 2016, 3,846 Cubans arrived in the US without visas, but between January 12 through 31, 2017, only 420 were considered to be “inadmissible” by Customs and Border Protection Agents at ports of entry. During the same period, 1,400 Cubans entered the US legally.
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THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADOR MAKES CITIZENSHIP FOR JAMAICANS A TOP PRIORITY
Girma Birru, the Ethiopian ambassador to Jamaica, North America and Mexico, announced that he and the Jamaican government have been working to address citizenship issues relating to the approximately 500 Jamaicans who are living in Shashamane, Ethiopia. According to Ambassador Birru, who visited Jamaica for Diplomatic Week, there is no dual citizenship in Ethiopia, but some Jamaicans have been residing there for 50 to 60 years. Together with Jamaica’s government, the Ambassador is trying to figure out a legal framework that will allow these individuals to continue living in Ethiopia while retaining Jamaican citizenship. They are permitted to have their own ID cards under an initiative noted by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his 2016 visit. Ambassador Birru also said that he wants to build on the good relationship between Jamaica and Ethiopia to make improvements in the areas of culture, tourism, and sports.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
EMBASSY OF JAMAICA HONORS FIRST FEMALE MASTER BLENDER
The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, DC, recognized Joy Spencer, the first female Master Blender, as she started her tour to mark 20 years as a blender with rum-maker Appleton Estates. Spencer, who has worked with Appleton for 35 years, is the first woman to hold the position of Master Blender in the entire spirits sector. She has been credited with creating several new blends of rum, including Appleton Estate Rare Blend Twelve Year Old, Appleton 30 Year Old, 250 Anniversary Blend, and Appleton Estate 50 Year Old. Her most recent blend is the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, which will be available in 2017 as a celebration of her 20 years as Master Blender. She was honored by Audrey Marks, Jamaican Ambassador to the US, for being the only woman in a field previously dominated by men.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
DANCEHALL STAR ALKALINE QUESTIONED IN MURDER CASE
Jamaican dancehall star Alkaline, whose real name is Earlan Bartley, turned himself in to Jamaican police in connection with a murder case. The deejay went into Kingston’s Area 4 police station for questioning in regard to the murder of Rohan “Head” Morris of Three Oaks Garden, St. Andrew. Morris was shot over 15 times by armed gunmen at his home in January 2017. It is believed the murder is linked to a long feud between two gangs in Malverley. According to the Jamaican Constabulary Force, authorities believe Alkaline can help with the investigation into the killing. Defense attorney Peter Champagnie is representing the deejay. Alkaline was the dominate dancehall entertainer of the year in 2016, with his “New Level Unlocked” album receiving high critical acclaim.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
SURF COACHING CERTIFICATION SOUGHT BY JAMAICAN ASSOCIATION
Billy Wilmot, president of the Jamaica Surfing Association, says that surfing in the country is “alive and well. Over the past year, Wilmot says there has been a significant increase in the number of young people gravitating to the sport. The association plans to capitalize on surfing’s growing popularity, and Wilmot is promoting the idea of a Jamaican coaching certification course. Currently, coaches must be trained through the Australian Surfing Association. With the revitalization of Jamaica’s own surfing organization, it would be useful to have island coaches to handle the large numbers of amateur surfers looking for encouragement. Wilmot is working on establishing the first certified coaching course in Jamaica.