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Justice sector benefits from Canadian support

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Kingston, Jamaica, December 28, 2016 – The country’s justice sector has benefited from significant Canadian funding support totaling over J$4.25 billion (Can$44.2 million) over the past 16 years.  Provided under the Global Affairs Canada initiative, the money has mainly financed the sector’s reform programme, spearheaded by the Justice Ministry.

The wide-ranging projects have been facilitated under the Justice Undertaking for Social Transformation (JUST) programme.  The Global Affairs initiative manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations, promotes the country’s international trade and leads that country’s international development and humanitarian assistance endeavors.  The JUST programme seeks to reform Jamaica’s justice system by making it more available, accessible, accountable, flexible, fair and affordable in a timely, courteous, respectful and competent manner for all citizens.

Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Sylvain Fabí, says key areas of funding support include a J$1.9-billion (Can$19.8-million) provision for business process reform and technical assistance, J$1.85 billion (Can$19.2 million) to acquire modern equipment, and J$502.7 million (Can$5.2 million) for capacity building.  Notable among the most recent provisions has been the recruitment of a statistician to collate the number of documented criminal cases within the court system, which will be captured under a statistics and data management system.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, has indicated that this undertaking is expected to provide an accurate count, as the Ministry moves to address the high backlog of cases, estimated to be as many as 100,000.

Another recent input was the provision of state-of-the-art equipment to the Attorney General’s (AG) Department and Supreme Court.  A total of 25 new desktop and laptop computers, along with backup storage devices and a projector, were presented to the AG’s Department.  These will facilitate connectivity between the Department and the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the courts.  Additionally, funds have been earmarked for staff training in the use of these equipment.

Fifteen desktop computers, along with a high-density server, data backup and storage, and firewall protection devices, were presented to the Supreme Court.  These are expected to significantly enhance administration of the new jury management system.  The 15 computers are part of an overall 85 being provided, with the remaining 70 to be dispatched to parish courts across the island.

Speaking at the presentation ceremonies earlier this year, Mr. Fabí lauded the Government for embarking on the justice-reform programme to modernize the sector.

While noting that the endeavor could be “very exhaustive and daunting”, he deemed it important, pointing out that “Jamaica is definitely on the right path”.  Mr. Fabí said work is under way to develop proposals for reforming the organizational structure of the Supreme Court and Parish Courts.

Additionally, he noted that work would shortly commence to develop new criminal procedural rules.  “These rules are aimed at streamlining the trial process to make (the) management of criminal cases more efficient and predictable,” the High Commissioner said.

Other notable provisions have included grant support of J$1.93 billion (Can$20 million) to assist with crime reduction under the National Security Ministry’s Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), and a similar allocation to the University of the West Indies (UWI) to facilitate the training of legislative drafters in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean

The High Commissioner said Canada welcomes the opportunity to assist, and that the Government “remains committed to supporting Jamaica in its reform goals and in ensuring that the country has a more efficient and responsive justice system”.  Regionally, Canada also provided a $1.93-billion grant to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to facilitate improved administration.

Mr. Fabí said Canada also provided J$483.4 million (Can$5 million), through the Finance and the Public Service Ministry, to avail the Government of technical expertise in order to assist the Administration in fulfilling targets under the just-concluded International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Welcoming the equipment, Mr. Chuck said their acquisition is consistent with the Ministry’s “aggressive push” to modernize Jamaica’s court system in order to improve its overall efficiency.  “Modernization of the court system cannot take place without 21st-century cutting-edge technology, and these computers will go a very far way in helping our drive to provide a First-World standard of justice for all Jamaican citizens,” he added.

Equally, Mr. Chuck said the state-of-the-art equipment will enhance the operational efficiency and service delivery of the AG’s Department, which, he emphasized, is pivotal in the administration of governance and justice.

For her part, Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, also welcomed the provisions, noting that Jamaica’s long-standing relations with Canada have resulted in positive strides being recorded locally, particularly in the justice sector.  Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla, emphasized that the timely delivery of justice is pivotal to the judicial system.  “The donation of these modern pieces of equipment will go a far way in assisting the staff of the courts to operate more efficiently and effectively in undertaking our daily functions,” she added.

 

 

photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner

 

 

 

 

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Minister Moxey says partnerships for development will help get Grand Bahama going again

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#TheBahamas, November 27, 2021 – One means by which Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey plans to utilize every resource at her disposal to get things moving for Grand Bahama again, is to utilize partnerships for development.

“Success with these partnerships on our island are embedded in collaborative efforts between the ministry of Grand Bahama, other government ministries, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Hutchinson Whampoa Holdings Ltd., industry stakeholders and the business community at large,” explained Minister Moxey.

“We must unite and work together to build alliances for success with the ultimate goal of ensuring that Grand Bahama Island excels.  We are all in this together.”

The Minister’s remarks came during her keynote address at the ninth annual Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort. The event is held to honor Grand Bahamian business owners for their commitment, achievements and dedication to the development of the second city.

Minister Moxey pointed out that this year’s event, under the theme, celebration of excellence, acknowledges and highlights businesses on Grand Bahama that have stayed the course. She added that this kind of recognition is a beacon of hope for local business owners who have faced and overcame some of the most challenging circumstances ever encountered within the island’s history.

“On November first during my contribution on the bill to thank the Governor General for his Speech from the Throne, I pledged to the nation that I would do the people’s business and utilize every resource at my disposal, to get the job done for Grand Bahama,” said Minister Moxey.

“As a Grand Bahamian and business owner, I can attest to the challenges we have faced over the past decade. The devastation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which was closely followed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It further strained our already fragile economy. Today’s administration is also well aware of the challenges that Grand Bahama has faced over the past decade. Nevertheless, we will deliver on our commitment to recover, rebuild and revolutionize our island, our economy and usher our people into the new day.

“I would like to thank all of the businesses represented today, that have kept their doors opened and our people employed. To all of the Business Excellence Award nominees, I congratulate you. Remain encouraged and know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“To the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, thank you for being a staple in the business community and for celebrating excellence for the past nine years. Welcome back business excellence awards.”

 

By Andrew Coakley

Photo Caption: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (right), along with President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Greg Laroda presents Mrs. Leslie Baptista, of Paint Fair, with the President’s Award, during the ninth annual GB Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort.

(BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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Caribbean Development Bank to offer solutions for TCI with Sea Defences

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has committed $600,000 to investigate upgrades to sea defences in the Turks and Caicos Islands, disclosed by the Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Akierra Missick as she sought to reassure residents about the state of the defenses.

Concerns were raised by residents recently when the newly paved Front Street, Grand Turk was severely flooded because the sea wall was unable to hold back massive waves.

Minister Missick acknowledged the concerns but said that the government had been working on upgrades since August of this year. This, she said, had begun with a “holistic review of all of the island’s sea defenses.” It was revealed that this review is being done through an environmental consultancy agency.

The consultancy is set to run for 11 months.

At the end of the consultation period, the government should have what Missick described as shoreline characterization for Grand Turk and Salt Cay as well as designs for measures to break wave strength before it reaches shore and infrastructure upgrade designs for the entire coast of Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

Feasibility studies will be carried out alongside these infrastructure designs to determine their effectiveness.

Meetings between CDB and stakeholders including residents, tourism operators, engineers, coasts resource advisors, and others are set to occur over the 11 month time frame.

A coastal resource and vulnerability analysis is also set to be completed. This, Missick said, is a pre-emptive effort to prevent future problems.

Opposition leader Edwin Astwood spoke out regarding the flooding incident. He said the flooding was caused by faulty engineering of the sea wall rather than drainage along the road. In the House of Assembly on November 22, Astwood claimed the wall, which should have been built with a curve, was built flat.

Missick has not yet responded to the claims but has promised that CDB’s preliminary report should be tabled with Government by Summer 2022.

 

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Leading revenue earners need to include a boosted Financial Services Sector says Finance Minister Saunders

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos economy has surpassed expectations for revenue by almost $90 million dollars. Finance Minister E.Jay Saunders revealed the top four categories that spearheaded the increase, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the revenue brought into the TCI.

The information was presented at a November 8 press conference where the Finance, Investment and Trade Minister also provided a simplified version of country finances in a Citizens’ Guide to the Budget.

Saunders said, in his presentation, that every single revenue item overachieved, pushing the original $271 million dollar budget to a projected $361 million.

The first category was Work Permits which is projected to have, a near $2 million dollar increase. Next was Accommodation Tax, which is projected to have an almost $15 million dollar increase in revenue, followed by Customs Import Duties with a projected $22 million dollar increase.  Finally, Stamp Duties rounded out the main four with a whopping $34 million projected increase.

He did warn that despite its brilliant performance, the TCI economy must diversify and do so soon. He cited supply chain issues that are currently affecting the global market saying that if even one of the major categories of revenue were to be affected it could be detrimental for the economy.

He said “Over 80% of our revenue comes from four categories…When we talk about diversifying this is one of the reasons why, because of anything happens to say, Customs Import duties it would be a disaster.”

In tandem with this call to diversify that the minister made significant mention of Financial Services as a fifth category for fiscal development. He said that despite the industry still being fairly small that “if the government can manage to grow it just a little bit it would make a huge difference.”

Cayman and the BVI were cited as examples of territories which had managed to build strong financial services sectors. He assured the press that, “The only thing we have to do is modernize our legislation and become more of a competitor…and we don’t need to increase our market share significantly to grab another 50 million dollars.”

In contrast, the biggest expenses were Salaries, Pensions, and Hospital charges with the Ministry of Health getting the bulk of the budget.

While the Finance Minister was pleased with the progress, he also expressed his determination that the TCIG be able to increase their now $360 million budget to $400 or even $500 million.

This, said Saunders, would allow the government to hit their 2040 goals to improve quality of life for TCI citizens.

 

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