THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE FUNDS TO SUPPORT VULNERABLE CITIZENS DURING 3-WEEK LOCKDOWN
The government of Jamaica announced it will provide $2 million to each of its 63 constituencies to support citizens who need help during the expanding three-weekend lockdown curfews. These will begin on Saturday, March 27, 2021, to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by restricting movement. The monies will be allocated to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) starting on April 1, 2021, with additional disbursement. According to Dr. Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and Public Service who announced the program, the government will work on its “operational dynamics,” but the funds will be made available to reduce the burden on the most vulnerable of Jamaica’s citizens in regard to the lockdown.
JAMAICA’S HOUSE APPROVES FINES FOR BREACHES OF COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS
Jamaican legislators in the House approved the imposition of penalties and other provisions under the Disaster Risk Management Act of 2021, including penalties for those who refuse to wear masks in public or who break curfew orders. Under the law, 40 offenses are addressed, with ten levels of fixed penalties imposed. Those failing to wear a mask in public, who do not follow the six-foot physical distancing rule, or who breach protocols that govern public transportation will be fined $5,000. Individuals who breach curfew could face fines of $10,000; a $20,000 penalty will be imposed on those who operate a gym or small outdoor activity outside of permitted hours. Additionally, residents who do not follow quarantine orders upon returning to the country from overseas will face a fine of $25,000, and non-Jamaican residents or tourists who do not confine themselves to Resilient Corridors will be liable for a fine of $30,000. A $100,000 penalty will be imposed on those holding funerals, burials, weddings, or worship services in breach of COVID orders, and anyone operating a hotel or resort not licensed under the Tourist Board Act, certified by the Tourism Product Development Company, or located in the Resilient Corridors could face a penalty totaling $500,000.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
PROGRAM TOTALING US$383 MILLION TO REDUCE POVERTY, INEQUALITY IN CARIBBEAN ENDORSED BY CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has endorsed, via its board of directors, a program worth US$383 million for the 10th cycle of its Special Development Fund (SDF), which is designed to reduce poverty and inequality in the Caribbean. The SDF was established in 1970 and represents a unique partnership among stakeholders of the bank with both its borrowing and non-borrowing members. With support from the CDB and other development partners, borrowing member nations have consistently worked for over 20 years to reduce poverty and inequality in the region. The CDB has been especially challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to focus on developing social resilience among the most vulnerable groups and countries so that they are ready to cope with shocks as they occur. Two-thirds of the funds will be used for concessional loans, while the rest will go to grants. The top five contributors to the 10th cycle of the SDF are Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
DAMIAN WILLIAMS, FEDERAL PROSECUTOR OF JAMAICAN HERITAGE, CONSIDERED FOR POST AS U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NY SOUTHERN DISTRICT
Damian Williams, currently a federal prosecutor in New York, is under consideration to serve as the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. This post is one of the highest-profile and independent positions in the US Department of Justice. Williams, whose parents are Jamaicans, has received public support from US Senate Majority Leader and senior senator from New York Chuck Schumer. President Joe Biden is also reportedly ready to nominate Williams. If he is nominated and passes the confirmation hearing process in the US Senate, he would be the first Black individual to be confirmed for this post. Williams was born in Brooklyn and earned degrees from Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, and the Yale Law School. Williams previously clerked for Merrick Garland who is now the head of the US Department of Justice and worked for the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He currently serves as head of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force at Southern District of New York, overseeing 20 federal prosecutors in cases that involve insider trading, market manipulation, financial fraud, and fraudulent investment schemes.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
IRISH COMPANY SELECTED BY BANK OF JAMAICA TO PROVIDE DIGITAL CURRENCY
The Bank of Jamaica chose the Irish firm eCurrency Mint to be the technology provider for the digital currency the bank is developing for Jamaica’s market. The bank announced that will start testing the digital currency in a pilot program in May 2021. The national launch for the currency is scheduled for 2022. The technology provider eCurrency Mint has been described as a world leader in the hardware, software, and cryptographic security matters required for digital currencies. The bank selected eCurrency Mint because it does not use blockchain technology, which would not have facilitated a seamless integration with transfers of physical currency and existing Jamaican payment structures that the bank wanted. Consumers in Jamaica will be able to hold digital currency accounts at banking institutions even if they do not currently have bank accounts once the technology roll-out is completed, since the service will be implemented through a mobile wallet accessible via smartphones and other mobile devices. These accounts will not earn interest, however.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
BUJU BANTON TOPS 2021 IRAWMA NOMINATIONS WITH 11
Buju Banton has received 11 nominations for the 39th International Reggae and World Music Awards.(IRAWMA) at a virtual ceremony streamed live from the IRAWMA website on March 23, 2021. The event was hosted by Gramps Morgan, multi-IRAWMA and Grammy award winner, who was nominated four times himself.With his 11 nominations, Banton repeats his achievement in 2020, when he also received 11 award nominations. He has been nominated to receive the Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artiste of the Year; the Emperor of Reggae and World Music – Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year; the Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song for “Blessed;” the Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD, “Upside Down;” the U-Roy Award for Best Male Dancehall/Rap Artiste; the award for Virtual Entertainer of the Year; Best Dancehall Stagecraft Entertainer; Best Collaborated Song for “Trust;” Best Music Video for “Blessed;” Best Caribbean Entertainer; and the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award. Other artists with multiple IRAWMA nominations include Bounty Killer, Popcaan and Koffee who each received six nominations; Skip Marley and Beenie Man, each with five; Gramps Morgan and Tarrus Riley with four each; and Sean Paul, Shenseea and Russian, each of whom received three nominations.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
KHADIJA “BUNNY” SHAW ON ESPN FC LIST OF TOP 50 FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN THE WORLD
Jamaican Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, 24, has been named one of the 50 best football players in the world by ESPN FC. Shaw, captain of the Reggae Girlz, was ranked at Number 31 on the list, which was created by experts on women’s football both within and without ESPN. Shaw is already the all-time top goal scorer for Jamaica. No Jamaican players, male or female, has outranked her on the ESPN lists, which means she is the highest-ranked Jamaican football player in history. ESPN FC cited Shaw’s “extreme mental strength” in experiencing the tragedy of losing four brothers and two nephews during her college years. Shaw debuted internationally in 2015 and was a member of the Jamaican team that qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the first Caribbean country to do so. She was named Guardian Footballer of the Year in 2018 and in 2020 made history when she became the first national female football player to receive a Jamaican National Award, the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer, for her outstanding achievement in sport.