#Jamaica, November 9, 2017 – Kingston – Ambassador Plenipotentiary for Economic Affairs, Dr. Nigel Clarke, is calling for increased investment in agriculture, as there is great demand that is not being satisfied and which the nation has the ability to supply.
“If we focus more on growing our own produce, we would reduce the need to import and satisfy the demands of our markets, which also results in an increase in our gross domestic product (GDP),” he argued.
He was speaking at the Jamaica Employers’ Federation’s (JEF) third annual CEO Breakfast held on Tuesday (November 7) at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. Dr. Clarke said that while there may be concerns about the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, new technologies are available to protect crops.
“It’s 2017, and with the application of technology and proper infrastructure, there’s no need to be so much at the mercy of droughts and floods as we are today. What we need to do, and what we will be certainly advocating for, is an acceleration of investments in water infrastructure, storage systems, distribution systems and irrigation, because the data suggest that wherever agriculture goes, that’s where Jamaica goes,” he noted.
Dr. Clarke said that agriculture has proven to be influential to the Jamaican market and earnings, and is a key component in the performance of the nation in each quarter. He said the data show that “whenever agriculture does well, Jamaica does well and when agriculture suffers, as was the case in the last quarter… Jamaica suffers. So we need to have a strategic approach to agriculture and double up our efforts in that area”.
“We tend to underestimate how important agriculture is to Jamaica. We’re very much still an agricultural society where agriculture plays a fundamental role in the daily lives of Jamaicans, and if we are to ensure that we can pick up and sustain going forward, we’re going to have to pay serious attention to agriculture,” he noted further.
Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke said the Jamaica economy is moving in the right direction. He noted that all the International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets were met and surpassed during the last financial year, the primary surplus out-turn exceeded the target, and tax revenues outperformed the budget by three per cent, which was the best in several years.
“Approximately 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the people no longer pay income tax on their earnings, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) earnings outperformed the budget by $3 billion. Corporate Tax, General Consumption Tax (GCT) and stamp duty, all indicators of economic activity, are up and ahead of what has been budgeted,” he pointed out.
He noted further that employment stands at record levels, with more than 1.25 million people employed. “This is the most that has ever been employed in the independent history of Jamaica. Unemployment is at 11.3 per cent, which is the lowest it has been in a decade and coming down from 13.5 per cent in 2013,” he said.
“When you see 50,000 jobs being added in a year in Jamaica and most of the jobs going to young people, it is absolutely encouraging that we are moving in the right direction. We have to ensure the earnings of those 50,000 people are spending on goods and services being provided by Jamaicans,” Dr. Clarke said.
Photo credit: Nationwide Radio
DIGICEL+ GIVES CUSTOMERS THE GIFT OF MORE SPEED THIS CHRISTMAS
The fastest internet just got even faster…for the same great price
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – 1st, December 2021 – Digicel+ is gifting The Turks and Caicos Islands faster home fibre speeds for Christmas, and beyond. Fulfilling the brand promise of Simply More (more power, more speed and more reliability), customers will now benefit from up to 2x faster download speeds on broadband and bundle plans.
This is all about a better experience for customers, and not about the cost. This free upgrade gives Digicel+ customers an even better home fibre internet experience, for anyone, on any device. And as part and parcel of the digital lifestyle, Digicel+ is the gateway to a Smart Life, which means that state-of-the-art Smart Solutions like Smart Homes and Smart Security are no longer just concepts, but a powerful reality.
Addison Stoddard CEO of Digicel TCI said, “This Christmas, we’re excited to reward customers with a super slick, superfast, super reliable home fibre experience, underpinned by service delivery that is, of course, second to none. Our entry-level plans are the fastest on the island and this puts us head and shoulders above any other internet offering in the country.”
The upgraded packages now start with download speeds of 50Mbps, and go up to 300Mbps for the speed demons and heavy gamers out there. This allows the Turks and Caicos Islands to connect to the global knowledge economy, have amazing entertainment options, and power their personal and professional experiences, thanks to these new superfast internet speeds.
Addison Stoddard continued, “It’s more of what our customers expect; more of what they want and it’s another way that we can be a part of our customers’ digital lives – at home, on the go, anywhere and everywhere. Simply put, Digicel+ is simply more.”
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the importance of having a steady, powerful and reliable home internet connection, mainly due to many schools going online and parents working remotely. Now, with even faster internet speeds, customers get the best home fibre experience every time. This provides opportunities for MORE working, MORE schooling, MORE gaming, and MORE streaming with Digicel+.
Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas. It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!
November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?
While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.
Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.
Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:
5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump – Know what to look for and catch it early
- A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
- Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
- Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
- Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
- Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.
“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”
Central Bank Digital Currency to Facilitate Financial Inclusion
#Jamaica, November 30, 2021 – Deputy Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Natalie Haynes, says Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) implementation is consistent with the Government’s overall financial inclusion strategy.
CBDC is a digital form of central bank-issued currency and, therefore, is legal tender that can be exchanged dollar for dollar with physical cash. Households and businesses will be able to use CBDC to, among other things, make payments as now obtains with cash.
“Financial inclusion is access by all to financial services and products [and] is a critical factor of Jamaica’s digital transformation. The Bank of Jamaica contributes to this by acting in its role as technical secretariat of the country’s national financial inclusion strategy,” Mrs. Haynes notes.
Through the CBDC, the BOJ will contribute to the financial inclusion process by enabling Jamaicans to seamlessly access financial products and services.
“CBDC is simply a digital form of money issued by a central authority. The Bank of International Settlements defines CBDC as a digital payment instrument denominated in the national unit account that is a direct liability of the central bank. In other words, the Central Bank is responsible for the CBDC that is issued,” Mrs. Haynes explains.
“With amendments to the Bank of Jamaica Act, CBDC will become legal tender. Legal tender means that all merchants, whether for goods or services, will confidently accept CBDC and know that they will get value for the good or the service that they provided,” she adds.
Mrs. Haynes points out that the CBDC should not confused with cryptocurrency.
“CBDC is not a cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is privately issued, and it’s not backed by a central authority. So, you have some of them out there [such as] Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple,” she informs.
The Deputy Governor tells JIS News that the central bank will be using the hybrid approach in introducing its CBDC.
“BOJ will not be issuing CBDC directly to retail customers. We are going to be issuing directly to deposit-taking institutions (DTI) that are licensed under the Banking Services Act; these are commercial banks, building societies, and merchant banks,” Mrs. Haynes outlines. She adds that in order to foster financial inclusion, “we will also issue to a group called payment service providers, that are currently operating and testing payment products in the bank’s FinTech regulatory sandbox”.
The BOJ will be issuing CBDC to payment service providers and DTIs who, in turn, will distribute it to their customers, clients, merchants and consumers through either an E-money wallet, card networks or other digital options for persons and entities to utilise in transactions.
“In this case, the BOJ issues to wallet providers (the collective name for DTIs and payment service providers) on a wholesale basis, just as we do with physical cash. When a bank wants physical cash, they place an order with BOJ and then they send their cash in transit courier to BOJ to collect the cash. In this case, they will still place their orders with BOJ, and we will issue them with the digital currency,” Mrs. Haynes explains.
The Deputy Governor is reassuring Jamaicans that the CBDC will add to the current pool of retail payment instruments in Jamaica, such as debit and credit cards, as well as prepaid cards offered by payment service providers.
“Think of it, basically, as cash that you have in your wallet. In this case, you’re going to have a digital purse or wallet. It is not e-money, which is a liability of e-money issuers, and, of course, because it is very much like cash, it does not earn interest. CBDC in Jamaica is going to be only for domestic use and will not be used for cross-border transaction,” Mrs. Hayes says.
She points out that one chief benefit of the CBDC is that there will be a more inclusive system for persons where every citizen will have a quick, safe and reliable digital retail payment instrument.
“It’s more efficient than cash. It is instantaneous, even for remote transaction, meaning you don’t have to be in front of the person. For cash, you have to be in front of the person to exchange cash. We can do person to person, person to business, and it goes both ways,” Mrs. Haynes adds.
She says the CBDC is also an incentive for persons who are apprehensive about the formal banking system to reap benefits if they plan to start a business.
“For example, you have a CBDC wallet with bank ‘A’ and then after a couple months of operating, your bank knows you and you can say ‘hey, I need a loan for my medium to small or microbusiness’; it gets you into the formal system. If your bank doesn’t know you and doesn’t know you exist, then it’s going to be very difficult to obtain those facilities,” Mrs. Haynes tells JIS News.
To access the CBDC, the Deputy BOJ Governor says customers will need to have a wallet, which is going to be different from your regular bank account.
“Of course, it’s going to be much easier and simpler to obtain with streamlined and simplified Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements,” Mrs. Haynes states. She also states that once an individual has a relationship with a bank, in that they already have a bank account with them, they can automatically get a CBDC account.
For those who are unbanked or do not have an account, then DTIs and authorised payment service providers will be able to onboard these individuals, who can then request a CBDC account.
To carry out CBDC transactions, consumers will be able to access, download and deploy a mobile wallet app on any mobile phone, tablet or similar device using the networks of both major telecoms service providers.
Customers will be able to top up their accounts with CBDC through all authorised agents or smart ABMs and do business using CBDC phone-to-phone with merchants.
“To get CBDC wallet, simply contact your wallet provider of choice. If you do not have a bank account, all you need when setting up your CBDC account is your name, Tax Registration Number (TRN), and government-issued photo ID (driver’s licence, passport or voter ID card),” Mrs. Haynes said.
When the CBDC is fully launched, all Jamaicans will be eligible for a CBDC wallet subject to the simplified KYC and the wallet providers’ risk assessment of the customer.
The BOJ is slated to commence national rollout of the CBDC platform during the first quarter of 2022.
It is anticipated that, by then, additional deposit-taking institutions (DTIs) will be onboarded to enable the issuing of wallets to facilitate an expansion of the number of individuals and businesses utilising the currency.
National Commercial Bank (NCB) is currently the sole DTI participating in the CBDC pilot, which commenced in June and is slated to conclude in December.
By: Lisa Rowe
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