Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Help! Collect our garbage, please http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/ONLINE-READERS-COMMENT--Help--Collect-our-garbage--please Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I reside in a community three miles from the Mandeville town centre. It has been the better part of six weeks since the garbage has been collected in this and surrounding communities. <br /> <br /> The local dog population has been having a field day with the over flowing garbage bins and there has been noticeable increase in the sighting of rats. The cat population are also noticeably fatter and more contented due to the increased amount of prey. <br /> <br /> On the other hand, the implication for us humans is potentially catastrophic given that these communities house a large number of elderly retirees whose immune systems are naturally diminished with age. <br /> <br /> An outbreak of leptospirosis a few years ago should have taught some valuable lessons. Several phone calls to the local office of Southern Parks and Markets (SPM) have resulted in nothing but empty promises from its public relations department and obfuscations about broken down trucks. I can't see the usefulness of having a PR department at a public garbage collection agency, so I suggest that this entire department be made redundant and that budget allocation be used to fix the garbage trucks. <br /> <br /> In the interim a short term solution needs to be found or it won't only be the dogs, cats and rats that are going to be choking on the build up of garbage but also the sink holes and gullies as residents are forced to find their own solution. <br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s been many years since I have voted in local government elections. I have every intention of doing so at the next one and it won't be for the incompetent politicians that are responsible for this situation, whoever they may be. <br /> <br /> Alwyn K Gregory http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13391249/online-readers-comment_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 12:19 PM Haitians struggle for clean water weeks after hurricane  http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Haitians-struggle-for-clean-water-weeks-after-hurricane COTEAUX, Haiti (AP) &mdash; It's been nearly a month since Hurricane Matthew tore through southern Haiti and people like Kettley Rosier and many of her neighbours still have to spend their meagre savings for water to drink.<br /> <br /> Wells and piped networks that people depend on for clean water across the country's southern peninsula were contaminated or damaged by a combination of ocean storm surge and sewage from the overflowing latrines that are commonly used in rural Haiti. Tainted well water and rivers throughout the region also carry cholera bacteria, which epidemiologists suspect has sickened thousands of people since the Category 4 hurricane.<br /> <br /> That means there is just not enough clean water to drink, let alone bathe, in places like the town of Coteaux, adding to the misery in an area where many people lost their homes, as well as the crops and livestock they need to survive.<br /> <br /> "We're tired of this," Rosier said on a recent morning, scratching at skin irritated after bathing in suspect well water. For drinking water, she has to buy small bags from street vendors. "God only knows when the good water will come back."<br /> <br /> An army of international relief teams have put enormous work into cleaning contaminated wells, distributing millions of water-purifying tablets and installing water treatment stations in areas that bore the worst of the hurricane. But it's not yet enough.<br /> <br /> Roughly 90 per cent of the piped water supply systems in southwest Haiti were damaged by the storm that struck October 4, according to Haiti's National Water and Sanitation Directorate. Communal and private wells were contaminated across three provinces.<br /> <br /> The extensive contamination of wells and the large amount of rain dumped by Hurricane Matthew created ideal conditions for spreading waterborne diseases including cholera, which causes rapid dehydration and can kill a human within hours if not treated. Authorities and aid groups say they have also detected faecal matter and E coli bacteria in drinking supplies.<br /> <br /> "A lot of sources are contaminated at the moment," said Leo Tremblay, a Canadian water and sanitation coordinator with Doctors Without Borders, which is overseeing a cholera treatment centre in the village of Port-a-Piment and has sent staff by donkey to provide aid to remote mountain villages.<br /> <br /> In the devastated city of Jeremie, two water purification stations operated by French government emergency workers have so far transformed river water into 450,000 litres of potable water. But international specialists say many communities right along shorelines still aren't getting adequate supplies.<br /> <br /> Complicating matters, some storm victims are taking chances with their health.<br /> <br /> In parts of the city of Les Cayes, people could be seen drinking straight from a contaminated well, bypassing treated supplies set up by a South Carolina-based organization known as Water Mission.<br /> <br /> "Our bodies are used to dirty water. Maybe if we go to that new water place we'll fall sick," said Ephraim Bernard, a jobless 24-year-old standing by the contaminated well, located by a trash pit where three people were openly defecating on a recent morning.<br /> <br /> Cholera was likely introduced to Haiti in 2010 by UN peacekeepers from Nepal and it has killed about 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000. Haitians are generally aware of the risk and families often go to great lengths to ensure they stay healthy.<br /> <br /> Yvette Dorival, a 22-year-old who lives in hills above the devastated beach town of Port Salut, is making two-hour treks three times a day to carry a jug filled at a water treatment site set up by Bomberos Unidos Sin Fronteras, a Spanish aid group. On the way, she passed Swiss Humanitarian Aid workers patching up a splintered water supply system.<br /> <br /> "Why is it I only see the blan out here working hard to get water to us Haitians?" she asked, using the Creole word for foreigners.<br /> <br /> There are some locals pushing to increase supplies, including Georges Edouard Elie, a businessman who owns a reverse osmosis plant in Les Cayes that produces Eau Kay water for a string of south coast settlements He is working with Arkansas-based nonprofit Heifer International to install a network of 1,500-gallon tanks that can be fed by water trucks.<br /> <br /> He said he is motivated in part by anxiety that his business could be attacked if the situation doesn't improve. "In my 24 years that I've been living here, this is the first time that I feel insecure," he said.<br /> <br /> Authorities say the water situation isn't likely to be resolved soon. Jean-Martin Brault, a water and sanitation specialist with the World Bank, said it's likely there will be a need to distribute water-purifying tablets and safe drinking water for six months in hard-hit zones.<br /> <br /> Public services in general were shabby before the storm. Portions of some coastal towns in the southwest have gained piped water networks in recent years, though there is no sewage treatment in the area. Only about a quarter of Haitians have access to flush toilets or latrines that hygienically separate waste from human contact, according to the World Bank.<br /> <br /> Now local authorities see a rare chance to improve the situation. Matthew's aftermath coincides with recently announced plans by the UN to invest more in clean water and sanitation systems as part of a new approach to dealing with cholera in Haiti.<br /> <br /> "This is an opportunity for us to get our systems more up-to-date," said Oswald Hyppolite, a water official for Haiti's South province.<br /> <br /> Sustained help couldn't reach Rosier's community soon enough. Vendors have raised the price of drinking water by 25 per cent and her family was struggling to pay. "We need water to survive, just like anybody else," she said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13391228/Haiti-water_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 12:02 PM German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/German-hospital-uses-therapy-to--treat--paedophiles BERLIN, Germany (AFP) &ndash; A man looks with interest at the child sitting in front of him in the metro, as a voice asks off-screen: "Do you like children in ways that you shouldn't?"<br /> <br /> "Help is available," adds the advertisement broadcast on German television and over the Internet, urging people who feel sexually attracted to children to join a unique therapy programme called "Don't offend" (Kein Taeter werden).<br /> <br /> Launched some 11 years ago, the largely publicly funded project by Berlin's top university hospital Charite calls on paedophiles to undertake a treatment that helps them control their urges.<br /> <br /> More than 7,000 people have sought information on the programme which is offered in 11 centres across Germany. <br /> <br /> Of these, 659 people have undertaken the therapy, with 251 completing the entire programme. Another 265 are currently being given treatment either in group or individual sessions.<br /> <br /> The German initiative is unique because it deals with potential sex criminals, or those who have already committed abuses but have managed to escape justice.<br /> <br /> Other programmes deal with convicted paedophiles who have also been issued specific orders to seek medical care.<br /> <br /> Klaus Beier, who leads the prevention network as well as Charite's sexual medicine institute, has no illusions about the programme.<br /> <br /> "Paedophilia is not curable," he said. <br /> <br /> "But it can be treated," he added, stressing that "a paedophile can learn to control his urges".<br /> <br /> The project is grounded on the principle that sexual attraction to children is a medical problem, and as Beier said, "not a crime" until the urge is acted upon. <br /> <br /> The World Health Organization too classifies paedophilia as a "sexual preference disorder".<br /> <br /> Over one or two years, during two-hour sessions every week, the patient is taught to develop strategies to stop himself from acting on his tendencies or from consuming child pornography.<br /> <br /> The programme also helps the patient to acquire a level of empathy towards potential victims, which could go towards dissuading him from hurting them.<br /> <br /> The patient can choose to remain anonymous throughout the treatment, even with his therapist, and at the end of the programme, he can request follow-ups.<br /> <br /> Medical help, such as chemical castration, is also offered on a voluntary basis. <br /> <br /> Scientists from around the world including countries in North America as well as Switzerland and India, have been watching the project with interest.<br /> <br /> "In France, we are still at the starting point on creating a programme that is similar to Germany's," said a psychiatrist at France's health and medical research institute Inserm, Serge Stoleru.<br /> <br /> He said the response from authorities had been that "paedophilia is a tricky subject."<br /> <br /> But even in Germany, one of the countries scarred by a massive paedophile priest scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, the therapy programme is controversial.<br /> <br /> Not only is there strong societal pressure against the programme, Beier said that even in the pharmaceutical world, there is "great reticence" towards developing medicine for paedophiles that could take effect rapidly.<br /> <br /> However, Jerome Braun, who leads a child protection foundation called Hansel and Gretel that co-funds the therapy programme, said that prevention work must not only be targeted at bringing awareness to potential victims in kindergartens or schools.<br /> <br /> "It should also look at potential criminals because each act prevented is a child saved," he said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13391178/Charite_afp_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 11:33 AM Opposition supports call for fund for science and technology http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Opposition-supports-call-for-Fund-for-Science-and-Technology KINGSTON, Jamaica &ndash; The Opposition People&rsquo;s National Party says it supports Dr Henry Lowe&rsquo;s call for the establishment of a fund for science and technology.<br /> <br /> Opposition Spokesman on Information and the Knowledge Economy Julian Robinson, in a news release Friday, pointed to his contribution to the Sectoral Debate on June 28, 2016, entitled "Building a knowledge based economy", and the recommendations he had made on how such a fund could operate.<br /> <br /> Dr Lowe, a Jamaican scientist who on Monday copped the Local Innovator Award presented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at its 19th Forum for Markets Innovation and Capital (FOROMIC) in Montego Bay, called for the establishment of a Science and Technology Innovation Fund.<br /> <br /> Dr Lowe made the suggestion against the background of his own experience of heavy investment in the research in which he and his team are engaged.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;While we were in Government, we begun initial thinking on the concept of such a fund but were not able to advance it to the stage of implementation,&rdquo; Robinson said. &ldquo;I am willing to be part of a process to move this forward.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> See the extract from his sectoral presentation<br /> <br /> See an extract from Robinson&rsquo;s Sectoral Debate Presentation below: <br /> <br /> One of the elements of a knowledge economy that we are currently missing is a properly stimulated research environment. Generally speaking, there are two types of research: basic and applied. Basic research seeks to understand fundamental principles and how to parameterise them within potential applications. Applied research focuses on trying to solve real-world problem by applying the knowledge gained from past basic research.<br /> <br /> Research (whether basic or applied) is an effective way for a Government fund to be applied, because it is an area that the private sector is typically unwilling to invest in (because the outcomes are not guaranteed, and do not yield an marketable product directly). Such activity is important to stimulate though, because it attracts bright young minds to focus on technical areas and push their frontiers, which then creates a population that becomes fertile ground for technical innovation, technical training in support areas, and increases the confidence of investors who might consider setting up technical enterprises here.<br /> <br /> Another critical aspect of a fund earmarked for research is that the custodians of that fund get to decide which research directions to stimulate. Since it is likely that the government funds will be relatively small, it might be ideal if government could encourage private sector consortia to establish research funds of their own to push research agenda that are aligned with their own economic interests (so those would likely be applied research). This would then leave the government to focus their limited funds on the longer term problems that can be addressed by research (basic research).<br /> <br /> In all cases, the process of accessing such funds should be a competitive one. The funding agency would put out, at regular intervals (e.g. every 1, 2 or even 3 years) announcements of the kinds of problems that they would like to see addressed. Respondents would propose research projects that would try to answer that call, and funding would be given to the proposals that best fit the mandate of the fund. (Basic research seeks answers that will push the boundaries of the area, while applied research seeks proof-of-concept answers that can then be taken to the development stage to become a product or service). Basic research problems will be longer term problems that tend to be more open-ended, while applied research problems tend to be more focused, be susceptible to a changing environment, and therefore have a shorter timeline. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12794050/Julian-Robinson_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 10:58 AM St Vincent PM announces prisoners' release, permanent jobs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/St-Vincent-PM-announces-prisoners--release--permanent-jobs KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) &ndash; Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he will soon order the release of a number of young prisoners, and make permanent the appointment of 100 clerks in the public service.<br /> <br /> St Vincent and the Grenadines Thursday celebrated its 37th year of political independence from Britain and in his address to mark the occasion, Gonsalves said following the necessary procedures he intends to advise the governor general to order the release of some young men and women who are serving terms of imprisonment &ldquo;for relatively minor offences.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I consider that in all the circumstances that these young persons ought to be given a second chance. This is the internationally proclaimed Year of Mercy by persons of faith and we ought to exercise it appropriately to deal with young persons and others,&rdquo; said Gonsalves, a Roman Catholic.<br /> <br /> He announced that 110 people who are employed as temporary clerks, some of them for several years in the public service, will all be afforded permanent status from January 1, 2017.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This will provide them with the necessary job security and attendant benefits as public servants.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> On the basis of the 2016 CSEC and CAPE examination, 629 students who achieved the requisite standard will shortly receive a cash grant of EC$500 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) each.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So, too, would the students who passed the associate degree programme at the required level at the Community College,&rdquo; Gonsalves said.<br /> <br /> He said that on the basis of the 2016 CAPE results, his government has announced 26 scholarships, exhibitions and bursaries for university-level study.<br /> <br /> Of these, eight are national scholarships fully funded for five years of study, five are national exhibitions fully funded for three years&rsquo; study and three are bursaries valued EC$60,000 each for three-year university programmes.<br /> <br /> Gonsalves, who is also minister of finance, said this will cost more than five million EC dollars, adding that for the 2017-2018 academic year, the government will grant tuition scholarships to deserving applicants for university study and will continue to pay the economic cost for all eligible students at the University of the West Indies.<br /> <br /> The State-owned Student Loan Company will continue to grant annually to eligible and deserving applicants, economically disadvantaged student loans amounting to in excess of four million EC dollars.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All of this, combined with other university scholarships negotiated with friendly overseas governments and supporting institutions, continue to place St Vincent and the Grenadines on track to have one university graduate per household, on average, by the year 2030. I say to the students give me even better results and I will find the money for you to go to university.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Gonsalves said that his government will shortly announce the 100 or so successful applicants who have been accepted to the registered nursing and assistant nursing programmes, all of whom will continue to receive a free education, and a monthly stipend of EC$1,000.<br /> <br /> He said St Vincent and the Grenadines is the only Caribbean Community (Caricom) country with such provision.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I want the nurses to know, I want the nursing assistants to know that you are very special to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines and you are very special to Ralph.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Gonsalves said that all these and other &ldquo;compelling initiatives for the youth, the elderly, the farmers, the working people, will continue to be honoured and implemented despite the economic challenges with which we are confronted.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He also announced that the annual duty-free concession for Christmas barrels will commence on November 14 and run until December 31, noting that last year there were some 18,000 barrels.<br /> <br /> Gonsalves also indicated that new recruits will soon join the police force, the Fire Service, and the Coast Guard.<br /> <br /> The government will give special recognition to citizens at home and abroad who have made sterling contributions in the fields of sports, culture, education, health, the public service, business and community service.<br /> <br /> In this vein, early next year, the government will announce the naming of various facilities &ldquo;in honour of our distinguished citizens, particularly those who have gone to the great beyond.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We must remember them as part of our exercise of nation building and the further ennoblement of our Caribbean civilisation,&rdquo; Gonsalves said, adding that announcements will also be made for a few more sporting and cultural ambassadors.<br /> <br /> Gonsalves also urged citizens to listen to his Budget address later this year to hear what he has to say about the continuation of programmes and new initiatives. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12094041/Ralph-Gonsalves_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 10:31 AM IMF warns of significant challenges to Belize economic growth http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/IMF-warns-of-significant-challenges-to-Belize-economic-growth WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) &ndash; The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Belize continues to face significant vulnerabilities and challenges driven by high public debt, large fiscal and external deficits, and declining international reserves.<br /> <br /> The IMF executive directors, who met to discuss the September report of an IMF mission to the Caribbean Community (Caricom) country, said that the adverse weather conditions have also posed difficulties and emphasised that decisive policies are urgently needed to ensure macroeconomic stability and improve growth performance.<br /> <br /> In September, the IMF mission warned that the Belize economy faced multiple challenges. It noted that gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to one per cent in 2015 due to falling oil production and reduced output in the primary commodity sectors, and turned to negative 1.5 per cent in the first half of 2016 relative to the same period in 2015.<br /> <br /> The IMF said then that the decline in oil and other commodity prices led to deflation in 2015, but the inflation rate turned positive in early 2016 owing to higher food prices and the hike in the fuel tax.<br /> <br /> It said Hurricane Earl, which hit Belize in early August, compounded the challenging economic environment.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The fiscal position has weakened, pushing the public debt higher. The overall fiscal deficit expanded to 8 per cent of GDP in 2015.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The executive directors noted that placing public debt on a downward path is a key priority.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;While noting that fiscal adjustment could initially impact growth, they emphasised that rigorous and sustained efforts, including both revenue and expenditure measures, are critical to ensuring fiscal sustainability and building investor confidence,&rdquo; the IMF said in a statement.<br /> <br /> It said that the directors welcomed the important steps taken by the authorities to contain public expenditures and increase revenue, but highlighted that additional measures, particularly raising the GST rate, reducing the public wage bill, reforming the pension plan for civil servants, and strengthening public financial management, will be important going forward.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Directors noted the improvements in the financial sector and called for sustained efforts to tighten supervision and reduce vulnerabilities. They underscored the importance of continued careful assessment and monitoring financial sector risks and agreed that an asset quality review of all banks would dispel possible uncertainties about the size of their capital buffers.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> They warned that timely completion of financial stability reports, including stress tests that adjust banks&rsquo; capital buffers for shortfalls in provisioning, would further strengthen the financial sector supervision toolkit.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The IMF directors noted that the loss of remaining Correspondent Banking Relationships (CBRs) could have a negative impact on the financial sector and the wider economy and will require action on multiple fronts, both domestically and internationally.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;They also highlighted that stronger implementation of the AML/CFT framework and improved transparency in the offshore sector, with technical assistance where needed, would help further improve compliance with international standards and understanding of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and help address the withdrawal of CBRs,&rdquo; the statement added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12105271/IMF_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 8:59 AM TCI tightens security at borders following jailbreak in Haiti http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/TCI-tightens-security-at-borders-following-jail-break-in-Haiti PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) &ndash; The Turks and Caicos authorities have increased security at the borders of the British Overseas territory following the jail break in Haiti on Sunday.<br /> <br /> Haitian officials said that at least one prison official had been detained following the jail break in which 174 inmates escaped from a prison in the north of the French Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.<br /> <br /> Immigration Minister Donhue Gardiner said that he had instructed the relevant authorities, including the Director of Immigration and the Supervisor of the Coastal Radar Department (CRD) to &ldquo;heighten our alert systems in the Immigration Intelligence Unit, and be more diligent especially as it relates to persons coming out of Haiti&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Haitians have long been known to head to The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, routinely risking their lives fleeing on sloops in pursuit of a better living.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The CRD have also been put on the highest alert and officers at our ports of entry and all of our permitting agencies, including the Visa Section in the Immigration Department have been asked to heighten their scrutiny of passengers travelling from Haiti and applications for persons from that area, even if it may mean greater delays,&rdquo; Gardner said in a statement.<br /> <br /> Gardiner said he has spoken to officials from the local airlines that fly the route to Haiti and other destinations to assist with air surveillance of the route during their scheduled flights in the area.<br /> <br /> He said he also spoke with Premier Dr Rufus Ewing and the Haitian Consular here, as part of an effort to ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands are &ldquo;not negatively impacted by this still fluid incident&rdquo;. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12579175/Jail-bird_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 7:58 AM Weather Update: Flash flood warning still in effect for Portland, St Mary and St Ann http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Weather-Update--Flash-flood-warning-still-in-effect-for-Portland--St-Mary-and-St-Ann KINGSTON, Jamaica &ndash; The Meteorological (Met) Service of Jamaica has continued a flash flood warning for low-lying and flood prone areas of Portland, St Mary and St Ann.<br /> <br /> While it has extended a flash flood watch that was in effect for low-lying and flood prone areas of St Catherine, Clarendon, Kingston and St Andrew, and St Thomas, to all other parishes.<br /> <br /> The Met Service says both will remain effective until 5:00 pm on Friday.<br /> <br /> A broad trough currently across the Central Caribbean continues to produce unstable weather across Jamaica. The Met Service says the trough is expected to linger until Saturday and continues to influence the weather across the island during the period.<br /> <br /> Satellite imagery and radar reports reportedly indicate that areas of light to moderate showers with embedded thunderstorms is forecast to move across Jamaica today, affecting sections of all parishes.<br /> <br /> The Met Service says the forecast is for periods of light to moderate rainfall and thunderstorms, which maybe heavy at times, to affect sections of all parishes, particularly western parishes this morning and central and eastern parishes this afternoon into Saturday morning.<br /> <br /> Also, flash flooding is likely to occur over low-lying and flood-prone areas across sections of the island, the Met Service says.<br /> <br /> A flash Flood warning means flooding has been reported or will occur shortly. Therefore, motorists and pedestrians should not attempt to cross flooded roadways or other low-lying areas as strong currents are likely. Also, residents in low-lying areas should be on the alert for rising waters and be ready to move quickly to higher ground.<br /> <br /> While a flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible and residents are advised to take precautionary measures, keep informed by listening to further releases from the Meteorological Service and be ready for quick action if flooding is observed or if a warning is issued. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389006/IMG-20161027-WA0000_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 7:50 AM Finalise National Youth Policy, Hanna urges Gov't http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Finalise-National-Youth-Policy--Hanna-urges-Gov-t KINGSTON, Jamaica &ndash; Opposition Spokesperson on Youth Lisa Hanna is calling on the Government to finalise the National Youth Policy to improve the lives of young people. <br /> <br /> Hanna's call to action comes within the context of the most recent Global Youth Development Index (YDI), published by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in which Jamaica improved in its ranking to be listed 46th in the world.<br /> <br /> In a news release yesterday, Hanna said that during her four-year tenure as minister of youth, she ensured that before new youth programmes were implemented there was islandwide engagement and consultation with thousands of youth, including those online.<br /> <br /> Coming out of those consultations, she said the National Youth Service added eight new programmes involving personal development, entrepreneurship, private sector on the job placement through MOUs with the PSOJ, scholarships for higher education, agricultural training and grants for rural youth, while at all times reserving 10 per cent of all spaces for youth with disabilities.<br /> <br /> Hanna stated that the ministry during that time engaged and interacted with over 230,000 young people.<br /> <br /> Hanna added "that while the YDI ranked Jamaica at 102 for youth employment, it is significant to note that during the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration, youth unemployment in Jamaica was going down: 38.5 per cent, 33.6 per cent, 28.2 per cent, for 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively."<br /> <br /> The Opposition spokesperson pointed out that the world is witnessing the largest population of youth in its history &ndash; 1.8 billion. She said that many within this generation face very similar realities across the globe with regards to employment as each year 121 million young people turn 16 and begin seeking jobs in the labour force.<br /> <br /> She said too that current estimates place 75 million young people as unemployed across the world, which the ILO admits, is close to crisis peak. Current estimates also suggest that the world will need to create approximately half a billion new jobs by 2030, as more and more young people join the labour market.<br /> <br /> The Opposition spokesperson added that within this context, young people continue to be almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. She pointed out, however, that these figures do not include the number of young people who are underemployed and are unemployable.<br /> <br /> Hanna said that in Jamaica, a number of social development issues such as poor family structures, intergenerational inequities, poverty, and limited job opportunities are just some of the challenges that have placed a growing number of Jamaican youth at risk.<br /> <br /> As a country, it is imperative that we place investment in our young people at the highest national priority and establish quotas to help people under 30, Hanna stated.<br /> <br /> "Young people are calling out for access to capital, access to land, access to jobs, access to higher education; they want to live, and lead successful lives," she said.<br /> <br /> Hanna said that the National Youth Policy, which she brought to Parliament, places Jamaican young people at the centre of the country's development. She is, therefore, calling on the current administration to finalise the National Youth Policy which has been sitting before the Human Resources Committee. <br /> <br /> Once enacted, Hanna said the National Youth Policy will provide increased educational access and benefits to all young people to improve their capacity and capability to enter the world of work.<br /> <br /> The policy will also reportedly give all young people improved health access and services to ensure their holistic well-being. It will lead to improved employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth, provide for the establishment of safe, nurturing and secure environments for youth to thrive, heightened youth participation in our country, established support with equitable provisions for young people in special circumstances, and strengthened capacity and partnership in the youth sector.<br /> <br /> The YDI also revealed that Jamaica's ranking in civic participation, political participation, education, and health and well being, stand at 5, 53, 79, and 87, respectively. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13266261/Lisa2_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 7:34 AM Maduro opponents tighten screws with Venezuela strike http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Maduro-opponents-tighten-screws-with-Venezuela-strike CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) &ndash; Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faces renewed pressure Friday as the Opposition calls for a nationwide strike, which he has threatened to break with army takeovers of paralyzed firms.<br /> <br /> Up in arms over the authorities' decision to block a referendum on removing Maduro from power, the Opposition has declared a 12-hour general strike, threatening to exacerbate the shortages of food and basic goods gripping the country.<br /> <br /> "This is a call to a citizens' strike for the people: to leave streets and workplaces empty... to pressure the government to obey the constitution and respect our right to choose," the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) said in a statement.<br /> <br /> The strike is scheduled to start at 6:00 am (1000 GMT).<br /> <br /> The centre-right coalition's latest move to pressure the unpopular leftist leader comes after anti-government protests drew hundreds of thousands of people on Wednesday.<br /> <br /> Maduro has vowed to respond forcefully.<br /> <br /> "If a company stops, it will be taken over," he said Thursday in a televised speech.<br /> <br /> He also extended a carrot to the struggling workers who have served as his socialist party's traditional base: a 40 percent increase in the minimum wage, to the equivalent of about $140 a month.<br /> <br /> But economic analysts called that a drop in the bucket for a country the International Monetary Fund says is facing inflation of 475 per cent this year, rising to 1,660 per cent next year.<br /> <br /> And a wage hike may only add fuel to the inflationary fire.<br /> <br /> Although Venezuela boasts the world's largest oil reserves, falling crude prices have plunged the country into an economic crisis.<br /> <br /> That has coincided with a messy political crisis ever since the Opposition won a majority in the National Assembly last December.<br /> <br /> The election setback has forced the president to share power with an opposition legislature for the first time since Maduro's predecessor and mentor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, came to power in 1999.<br /> <br /> Maduro accuses the National Assembly of staging a "parliamentary coup" by voting to put him on trial for alleged breach of duty.<br /> <br /> The opposition says it is Maduro who is staging a coup d'etat by blocking a referendum.<br /> <br /> Fears of violent unrest are mounting in the country, where rioting at anti-government protests killed 43 people in 2014.<br /> <br /> The Opposition has vowed to march next week on the presidential palace, the scene of a short-lived opposition coup attempt against Chavez in 2002.<br /> <br /> Army chief Vladimir Padrino has declared loyalty to Maduro, vowing to defend the socialist government "with (his) life".<br /> <br /> The army will inspect some 700 companies Friday to see whether they observe the strike, Maduro said.<br /> <br /> He wants to address the crisis in a "national dialogue" with opponents from Sunday, a plan he says is backed by Pope Francis.<br /> <br /> The MUD said it would agree to talks only if the government respects the constitutional right to a referendum and frees imprisoned activists and leaders, among other demands.<br /> <br /> Maduro has vowed to travel to the Caribbean island of Margarita, where he has proposed starting talks on Sunday.<br /> <br /> But it is unclear whether he will have anyone to talk to. The Opposition insists that any talks be held in Caracas, "in the public eye". http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13390653/Venezuela-protests_w300.jpg Local News Friday, October 28, 2016 7:20 AM Gov't creating supportive framework for science and technology http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Gov-t-creating-supportive-framework-for-science-and-technology KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; The government plans on putting policies, laws and regulations in place to foster the development of the local science and technology sector.<br /> <br /> According to Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, the move is critical in creating the enabling environment that will increase the contribution of science and technology to national progress.<br /> <br />  &ldquo;This includes undertaking strategies to bolster our capacity for research and development, and applying and adapting science and technology to practical and productive uses. These strategies are key to laying the foundation for our long-term transition to a knowledge-based society and innovation-based economy that is globally competitive,&rdquo; Wheatley said.      <br /> <br /> He was speaking at the Proclamation ceremony for Science and Technology Month held on October 25 at King&rsquo;s House. <br /> <br /> The month is being observed in November under the theme &lsquo;Science, Technology and Innovation: Stimuli for Health, Wealth and Wellness&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley said the strategy for the science portfolio includes encouraging research as the basis for decision-making, the commercialization of research and innovation, encouraging the innovative use and application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by private enterprises and government, and the establishment of a dynamic and responsive national innovation system.<br /> <br /> This system will be responsible for the flow of technology and information among people, enterprises and institutions, which is key to encouraging innovation at the national level.<br /> <br /> Science and Technology Month is being organised by the Scientific Research Council and the National Commission on Science and Technology.<br /> <br /> Activities will commence with a service on October 30 at the Saxthorpe Methodist Church in Kingston and continue on November 3 with Tech Fest at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library. <br /> <br /> The 4th Biennial Science and Technology Conference will take place on November 14 and 15 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, followed by the National Innovations Awards on November 16, and Science in the Gardens at the Hope Botanical Gardens on November 24. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389380/RAF-3_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:00 PM Proper corporate governance framework vital &ndash; PSOJ head http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Proper-corporate-governance-framework-vital---PSOJ-head KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) - Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Dennis Chung, says a proper corporate governance framework will be critical in eliminating the potential for waste and corruption in the public sector.<br /> <br /> Chung, giving the keynote address at the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) Audit Committee Conference, today (October 27), at The Knutsford Court Hotel, said the PSOJ has worked closely with the government to put together a framework for public-sector bodies. <br /> <br /> He expects that with this now being implemented, there will be a greater degree of efficiency in the operations of the sector.<br /> <br /> A corporate governance framework is a set of rules and practices through which a Board of Directors ensures accountability, fairness and transparency in an organization&rsquo;s relationship with its stakeholders.<br /> <br /> Chung indicated that the implementation of this framework will be critical in the government&rsquo;s push for public-sector reform.<br /> <br /> He added that audit committees are also critical to successful corporate governance, as they safeguard the integrity of the ministries, departments and agencies.<br /> <br /> The PSOJ has also been working with the Jamaica Stock Exchange to launch a corporate governance index next year, which will see listed companies rated according to their practice of corporate governance. The PSOJ will compile the indices for the various companies.<br /> <br /> The organisation will also be launching a public-sector corporate governance award.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We think that if people are incentivized to practice good corporate governance within the public sector, then it will (make a difference),&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, director general of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Robert Martin, hailed the members of the GOJ Audit Commission for their resilience in protecting government resources in areas of procurement and for providing sound advice on risk, financial and conflict management to the sector.<br /> <br /> He urged members to continue being resilient, to initiate investigations, challenge auditors and bring management to account.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The demands of an audit committee are expanding; however, at the same time, your primary responsibility to oversee management&rsquo;s activities, including financial reporting and compliance remain fundamental to corporate governance. We encourage you to stay the course,&rdquo; Martin said.<br /> <br /> The conference was hosted under the theme &lsquo;Dissecting the Past, Protecting the Present and Shaping the Future&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> It included presentations on forensic auditing, elevating organizational ethics, and managing cyber security threats.<br /> <br /> The GOJ Audit Commission works in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to educate the central government audit committee members on current and emerging trends in public financial management.<br /> <br /> The Commission was first established in 2005 as an independent body charged with the responsibility of ensuring the continued effectiveness of the audit committees by monitoring their performance against the appropriate regulations. It was enacted as a corporate body with the 2009 amendments to the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act and reconstituted in 2011.<br /> <br /> There are 32 audit committees under the purview of the Commission.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12839720/Dennis-Chung_w400_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:45 PM House approves motion for lifting of Cuban embargo http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/House-approves-motion-for-lifting-of-Cuban-embargo KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; The House of Representatives has unanimously approved a motion calling for the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba by the United States.<br /> <br /> The motion, which was brought to the House by Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, is in support of a resolution submitted by Cuba to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), entitled &lsquo;Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> It seeks to provide support for the complete removal of the restrictions imposed on Cuba for more than 50 years despite the fact that 191 member states of the UN, including Jamaica, representing the vast majority of the international community voted last year in favour of the resolution.<br /> <br /> The Jamaican legislature has approved a motion in support of the lifting of the embargo for the past eight years.<br /> <br /> In her remarks, Malahoo Forte said the blockade continues to hinder the normalisation of relations between the two countries, noting that it also goes against many charters and norms governing international trade.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The blockade is the most unjust, severe and prolonged system of sanctions ever imposed on any country, and it remains a flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> She said it constitutes the greatest obstacle to developing the full potential of the economy and well being of the Cuban people and to the island&rsquo;s economic trade and financial relations with the US and the rest of the world. <br /> <br /> Malahoo Forte noted that while there has been relaxation of a few rules regarding telecommunication, trade, remittances, travel, the reopening of embassies and the visit of President Barack Obama to Cuba, which was a positive move towards the re-establishment of bilateral relations, more still needed to be done.<br /> <br /> Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Dr Morais Guy, said that the blockade has created undue hardship for the Cuban people and economy.<br /> <br /> He added that it has also created barriers for other countries wanting to trade with the island nation.<br /> <br /> Dr Guy noted that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries have been the beneficiaries of Cuban kindness, since the 1970s.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We, as a country, have turned to Cuba to provide doctors and specialist nurses. Our other nearest neighbour, Haiti, when hit by Hurricane Georges in 1998 had the support of Cuban doctors, who went to assist in the relief efforts.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In 2010 when there was the massive earthquake, more medical specialist were sent and even after Hurricane Matthew hit that country last month, Cuba sent another 38 doctors, who specialise in disaster management, to Haiti,&rdquo; he pointed out. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389132/cuban-flag.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:26 PM Trump takes issue with Clinton's criticism of Putin http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Trump-takes-issue-with-Clinton-s-criticism-of-Putin OHIO, United States (AP) &mdash; Donald Trump on Thursday criticized rival Hillary Clinton for being too tough on Vladimir Putin, once again raising eyebrows about the Republican candidate's relationship with the Russian president.<br /> <br /> Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Ohio, as he kicked off a daylong swing through the battleground state, Trump took issue with Clinton's criticism of the Russian leader, who has been denounced in the West for his military assertiveness and anti-democratic tendencies.<br /> <br /> "She speaks very badly of Putin, and I don't think that's smart," Trump told a crowd of thousands, noting that Russia has nuclear weapons.<br /> <br /> "How do you speak so badly of someone?" he asked.<br /> <br /> Trump has been criticized throughout his campaign for failing to denounce Putin and repeatedly denying connections US intelligence officials say they've found between Russia and recent hacking efforts that appear aimed at influencing the outcome of November's election.<br /> <br /> Trump has long argued that the US would be better off if it had a more productive working relationship with Russia and has called for the two countries to work together to take on Islamic State militants, despite their differences over Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.<br /> <br /> Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, has taken a harder line on Putin, describing him during the vice presidential debate as a "small and bullying leader."<br /> <br /> Trump has said that Putin is a stronger leader than President Barack Obama and praised him for exerting "strong control over his country."<br /> <br /> The US has accused Russia of coordinating hacks on Clinton's campaign emails. But Putin on Thursday dismissed those claims, saying the allegations were designed to distract the public from real issues.<br /> <br /> He said suggestions that Russia was trying to bolster Trump were "sheer nonsense."<br /> <br /> "It's just an instrument of political struggle, a way of manipulating public opinion," he said in Sochi.<br /> <br /> Still, the Russian leader added that while Trump may sound "extravagant," he was trying to reach out to people who are tired of elites. He said, "time will tell how effective it is for him." http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389475/traamp_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:00 PM TAKE STYLE OUT &ndash; The bargains are on http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/tso-uptown KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; Spotted outside a store laden with shopping bags but clearly not perturbed, one man had no qualms about admitting that he was just out to carry the bags.<br /> <br /> He stood waiting patiently in Tropical Plaza as his wife shopped in a nearby store and said he happily welcomed the discounts.<br /> <br /> He was just one of scores of shoppers who are out in their numbers in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, as they made use of the discounts being offered by participating stores in Jamaica Observer Takes Style Out.<br /> <br /> Finding a parking space might be an issue and you might have to shuffle a little to make your way through some of the stores but based on feedback, customers think it is worth it. Want more? The party-like atmosphere is another thing to look forward to as music can be heard blaring through speakers at different points in the vibrant shopping district.<br /> <br /> Customers were not the only ones smiling, retailers also gave the annual event a nod as they say the customer response has been great.<br /> <br /> A floor manager in Carby's Discount Centre, although a bit shy when speaking to OBSERVER ONLINE said sales have been going great all day and picked up even more at the official start of TSO at 5:00 pm.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389481/carbys_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389482/twin_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389489/IMG-20161027-WA0017_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:48 PM Video link equipment installed in three courts http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Video-link-equipment-installed-in-three-courts KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; Video-link equipment has been installed in the Supreme Court, Half-Way-Tree Parish Court and St James Parish Court. <br /> <br /> Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, made the disclosure when he addressed the House of Representatives on October 26.<br /> <br /> Chuck further informed that steps are being taken to retrofit courts across the island with this equipment. <br /> <br /> He said the utilisation of technology, such as video-link evidence, seeks to protect witnesses and save them the vagaries of attending court.  <br /> <br /> &ldquo;A more effective justice system where cases which are set down for trial are tried within a timely manner will reduce the practice of accused persons taking their chances with the system, expecting that the matter will break down or be thrown out,&rdquo; the minister said.<br /> <br /> Chuck advised that work to install the technology in 19 additional courts is expected to commence before the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year.<br /> <br /> The minister announced recently that three mobile units, which are equipped to facilitate witnesses giving evidence remotely, have been acquired.<br /> <br /> He said the ministry is &ldquo;far advanced&rdquo; in procuring another 22 units, which are expected to arrive before the end of the fiscal year, and will be dispatched for use islandwide.<br /> <br /> The minister informed that digital audio-recording equipment had been installed in some courtrooms, with 71 additional courtrooms and seven hearing rooms slated to be outfitted. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13290856/Delroy-CHuck_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:45 PM PM wants region to be less dependent on oil http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/PM-wants-region-to-be-less-dependent-on-oil ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says a concerted effort must be made by countries in the region to be less dependent on oil. <br /> <br /> Addressing the opening of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) conference at the Secrets Resort in Freeport, Montego Bay, on October 26, the prime minister said that opportunities that are available through energy diversification must be embraced.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We must get it right. Energy is clearly the mission-critical frontier and it is all within our collective interest to get on that train,&rdquo; Holness said.<br /> <br /> The prime minister pointed to the role of Jamaica's Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in helping the country to bring in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as an energy option.<br /> <br /> "The OUR approved the funding for the conversion of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Bogue plant in Montego Bay to enable the move from heavy dependence on oil to diversifying to LNG,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I applaud the OUR for being a strong regulator and helping to make this move a reality and also for taking Jamaica on this new platform. This is a great example of collaboration among Government, regulator and utility providers,&rdquo; Holness added.<br /> <br /> The prime minister also cited the shipment of LNG, which arrived in Montego Bay on October 22 aboard the feeder vessel Anthony Veeder to be channeled to the JPS Bogue power plant.<br /> <br /> He lauded the JPS&rsquo;s investor partner New Fortress Energy for its US$750-million investment, saying it is a symbol as to where &ldquo;we want to go in the area of sustainable energy production&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> The prime minister said the Bogue plant is expected to be fully operational in two weeks, making LNG usage a reality.<br /> <br /> Holness said that regulators have an obligation in helping the Caribbean Community to implement the Caribbean Energy Policy, which promotes a shift in sustainable energy through increased use of renewable energy. The policy was approved in 2013.<br /> <br /> "It is not only Jamaica that is focused on diversifying its energy mix, but so too is CARICOM, and we must get it right in the region. Access to affordable energy is a necessary requirement for addressing sustainable development in the region," the prime minister emphasized.<br /> <br /> For his part, chairman of the OUR, Joseph Matalon, said apart from the historic LNG shipment, Jamaica is also officially targeting 20 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2020.<br /> <br /> He noted that 2016, in particular, has seen the commissioning of some 80 megawatts of renewable energy-generating capacity, inclusive of the largest and first utility scale solar project in the Caribbean &mdash; the 20-megawatt photovoltaic facility in Clarendon. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13346512/Andrew-Holness--1-_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:30 PM Person of interest named in the killing of JC student http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Person-of-interest-named-in-the-killing-of-JC-student KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; The police have named Quacie Hart as a person of interest in their investigation into the fatal stabbing of 14-year-old Jamaica College student, Nicholas Francis.<br /> <br /> No photograph of Hart will be released at this time pending an identification parade. <br /> <br /> Reports are that about 4:20 pm yesterday (October 26), Nicholas was a passenger on a bus travelling along Old Hope Road in St Andrew when a man tried to rob him of his cellular phone. <br /> <br /> Nicholas reportedly resisted and was stabbed in the left side of his chest. He was taken to hospital where he died while being treated. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389438/police-hat_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:14 PM 3 Costa Ricans convicted for breaching dangerous drug act http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/3-Costa-Ricans-convicted-for-breaching-dangerous-drug-act MANCHESTER, Jamaica &mdash; Three Costa Ricans were convicted and sentenced for breaches of the Dangerous Drug Act in the Manchester Parish Court on Wednesday, October 26.<br /> <br /> They are Bornel Isaac, Santos Bacillicio and Yaadany Alexander.<br /> <br /> Reports from the police are that on August 29 the three men were travelling in a boat that was intercepted by the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard at the Alligator Reef in Manchester. The vessel contained 1,900 pounds of compressed ganja.<br /> <br /> Following investigations by the Narcotics Division the men were charged with possession of ganja, taking steps to export ganja, dealing in ganja and illegal entry into Jamaica.<br /> <br /> They were sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty. <br /> <br /> Each received sentences of $15, 000 or six months for possession of ganja and a mandatory two year sentence, as well as $3 million or six months and a mandatory two years imprisonment for taking steps to export ganja. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/8673532/Court.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:03 PM Health minister, SERHA express condolences at death of doctor http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Health-minister--SERHA-express-condolences-at-death-of-doctor KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, has expressed condolences on behalf of the team at the Ministry of Health to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr Martin Garwood who was stabbed to death at his home in Barbican, St Andrew, on Wednesday, October 26.<br /> <br /> Dr Garwood, who worked at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and was described as a gifted medical practitioner was also the medical doctor for the young Reggae Boyz.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is a great loss to the medical fraternity and community, which would have benefitted from his contribution to our health care system and sports.&rdquo; Minister Tufton said. &ldquo;To the family, friends and colleagues of Dr Martin Garwood, it is a difficult time and my prayers are with you.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) fraternity said it was deeply saddened by Dr Garwood&rsquo;s gruesome murder.<br /> <br /> In a statement on Thursday, SERHA said Garwood began working at the KPH in January 2016 and was assigned to the Department of Surgery. He was in the final process of completing the Doctor of Medicine post-graduate programme<br /> <br /> &ldquo;During his tenure at KPH, Dr Garwood was found to be a committed and diligent physician who went above and beyond the call of duty for his patients and colleagues. He will truly be missed,&rdquo; the SERHA statement said<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We appeal to anyone who may have information about his murder to cooperate with the police so that Dr Garwood&rsquo;s killer(s) can be brought to justice,&rdquo; the statement added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13324889/Tufton.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:47 PM PHOTOS: Portland flooding http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/PHOTOS--Portland-flooding PORT ANTONIO, Portland &mdash; A large number of communities in Portland are now affected by the heavy rains that lashed the northeastern parish for over twelve hours from Wednesday into Thursday.<br /> <br /> The fire service had to do rescue activities in Spring Gardens where some people were evacuated as the Spanish River overflowed its banks. Canewood, St Margaret's Bay, Swift River, Berrydale, Fellowship, Windsor, Moore Town, Ginger House, Seaman's Valley and Comfort Castle were badly affected with flooding, land slippages as farms were damaged and animals lost.<br /> <br /> Everard Owen http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389361/portland_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389362/portland-1_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389365/portland-2_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389367/portland-3_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389368/portland-5_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:37 PM Man charged for exporting cocaine in potatoes http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Man-charged-for-exporting-cocaine-in-potatoes KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash;Forty-eight-year-old Leslie Hunter, of Greenwich Farm Fishing Beach, Kingston, who was arrested at the AJAS Cargo Warehouse at the Norman Manley International Airport allegedly attempting to export cocaine, has been charged.<br /> <br /> The police say that Hunter was charged on October 25 after an interview session in the presence of his attorney. <br /> <br /> He has been charged with possession of cocaine, dealing in cocaine, attempting to export cocaine and conspiracy, and is scheduled to appear before the Corporate Area Criminal Court on Tuesday, November 1. <br /> <br /> Reports are that about 2:15 pm on Thursday, October 20, security personnel were conducting checks of items declared as ground provisions to be exported to England when an anomaly was observed. As a result, narcotics detectives checked the shipment and nine of the potatoes were found to contain cylindrical parcels with cocaine.<br /> <br /> Subsequent investigations led the officers to Hunter, who was taken into custody. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389259/Arrest-2_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:30 PM Just over 60,000 accounts switched under number portability http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Just-over-60-000-accounts-switched-under-number-portability ST JAMES, Jamaica &mdash; With just a little over a year since number portability was introduced to Jamaica, it appears customer enthusiasm in switching telephone service provider has waned.<br /> <br /> Number portability was introduced in June of 2015. Two months after it became effective, there was a record 33,000 telephone accounts switched, according to the then technology minister Phillip Paulwell.<br /> <br /> However, 14 months later, the new minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, has disclosed that over 60,000 people have ported their member since the introduction.<br /> <br /> Despite the slowing down in the number of customer accounts switched, Dr Wheatley says number portability has encouraged telecom service providers to improve their service offered to customers.<br /> <br /> "I know that the naysayers had previously thought that Jamaica would not be interested in number portability, but we have seen that with the option to jump ship at any time &hellip; it encourages our telecoms to pay more attention to customer service and especially the quality of service," stated Wheatley.<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley was addressing the second day of the 14th annual Conference of the Organization of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR), which is being held at the Secrets Resorts and Spa located in Freeport, St James. <br /> <br /> The three-day conference, which started on Wednesday, is being held under the theme: "Creating a Spectrum of Opportunities in the Caribbean."<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley further disclosed that the country has been enjoying a 100 per cent tele-density rate over the past few years.<br /> <br /> "And, per official statistics from the Office of Utility Regulation (OUR), we have had over three million mobile subscribers at the end of 2015," Dr Wheatley disclosed.<br /> <br /> "So, it tells you that Jamaicans love to talk," Dr Wheatley quipped. <br /> <br /> "We love to talk. But, more importantly, we believe seriously in using technology and I think it is that point that we should pay more attention to, rather than the fact that we may be considered to be chatterbox."<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley also stated that the area of net billing has been greeted with tremendous optimism from individuals and small enterprises.<br /> <br /> "In fact, since the resumption in April of this year, I think I have signed almost 160 licenses from persons, from small businesses to residential customers seeking to participate in the whole net billing arrangement."<br /> <br /> Dr Wheatley also told the conference that even though there has been a marked improvement in the country&rsquo;s global competitiveness report, there was still room for improvement.<br /> <br /> In the September report, the country is now rated at 75 out of some 138 countries.<br /> <br /> A pleased minister said this indicates an improvement in which the country moved up nine places from last year's rating of 86.<br /> <br /> "Now, even though we have performed credible over the years, I strongly feel there is room for improvement if we are ready to achieve our goals."<br /> <br /> Anthony Lewis http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389126/wheatley_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:15 PM Wynter moots national ID system as de-risking solution http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Wynter-moots-national-ID-system-as-de-risking-solution KINGSTON. Jamaica &mdash; Brian Wynter, governor of the Bank of Jamaica, says that the sooner Caribbean governments are able to put in place national identifications systems (NDS) based on biometric data, the more persuasive they will be in their fight to retain the services of correspondent banks.<br /> <br /> In a recent address to the Inter-American Development Bank-sponsored conference on &lsquo;Finance, Fintech and the Future of Banking in the Caribbean Basin&rsquo; held in Washington DC, one solution, he said, is to build capacity in know your customer (KYC) utilities and the development of national identification systems, and then to implement a framework to support reliance on them<br /> <br /> Such systems, he noted, would provide standardised identification of natural persons and a centralised database from which KYC information can be retrieved and shared.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;These tools have significant potential in the near to medium term if they can be implemented with common standards across the Caribbean region,&rdquo; Wynter stated.<br /> <br /> Wynter noted that changes in correspondent banking relationships significantly impacted the ability of local banks to service relationships, with local foreign exchange clients reversing progress in financial inclusion.<br /> <br /> In Jamaica, he said, cash-intensive businesses such as supermarkets are being affected by the new demand of correspondent banks, in addition to cambios and remittance companies.<br /> <br /> The solution to this problem, he said, &ldquo;goes beyond simply upgrading the regulatory and supervisory framework in affected countries or correspondent banks changing their risk assessments&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Wynter noted that Jamaica has already embarked on preparing the way for such a solution through the development of a national identification system (NIDS) which, if &ldquo;properly executed, can provide a unique personal identifier for every Jamaican utilising appropriate biometric information&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He said this system could serve as the cornerstone for a technology-driven approach to address international compliance requirements.<br /> <br /> Funding for the project, he noted, has been provided through the IDB with grant funding of US$670,000, which helped to fund the first phase of this project.<br /> <br /> Other Caribbean states, he suggested, will need similar help.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The responsibilities and the associated costs of the development and implementation of such KYC and national identification system utilities cannot be borne solely by small developing states. But, if not addressed, it could lead to a dynamic that undermines one of our flagship development goals of broadening financial inclusion.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We therefore need to hasten the development of innovative partnerships between multilateral financial institutions, governing bodies for AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/counter financing of terrorism) and the developers of these technologies to undertake projects to develop such systems for low-cost introduction into jurisdictions such as ours in the Caribbean,&rdquo; the BOJ Governor said.<br /> <br /> AVIA COLLINDER http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13389168/Brian-Wynter-2_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 7:00 PM Forex: J$129.13 to one US dollar http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Forex--J-129-13-to-one-US-dollar KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; The US dollar on Thursday, October 27, ended trading at J$129.13, up by seven cents, according to the Bank of Jamaica&rsquo;s daily foreign exchange trading summary.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar ended trading at J$97.09, down from J$99.88, while the British pound sterling ended trading at J$157.00 down from J$157.34. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9847300/Forex_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, October 27, 2016 6:55 PM