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JAMAICA: Emergency Communication System to be Operational by 2020

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#Kingston, June 26, 2018 – Jamaica – Establishment of a national emergency communication system is on track, with the facility slated to be up and running within the next two years.  Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Major Clive Davis, said the required equipment and other inputs are expected to start arriving in the island by the end of the year for installation to begin.

“The bid document should be in the country (in) June for us to go to market, and then we expect the equipment to start arriving late in 2018,” he told JIS News.

“By 2020, it should be fully up and running, but it is an extensive job.  It includes putting infrastructure in some 35 communication spots or towers across Jamaica for us to make sure that the communication is secured,” he added.

The Governments of Jamaica and Japan, in April last year, signed a grant agreement for the provision of $1.6 billion (¥1.39 billion/US$12.58 million) to fund the implementation of the ‘Improvement of Emergency Communication System Project’.  The funds are being disbursed in tranches for procurement of equipment.

The project aims to provide an effective emergency telecommunications infrastructure and platform to facilitate timely communication among government agencies and first responders during an emergency.  It includes integration of the National Works Agency (NWA) microwave network for data communication; installation of communication systems that will serve an additional 24 repeater locations, up from the nine stations ODPEM currently operates; and early warning sirens at 15 locations in three communities.

It will also facilitate the acquisition of radio equipment, transmission and reception devices to critical response entities and for placement at key offshore locations – the Morant and Pedro Cays.  The project will significantly strengthen ODPEM’s preparedness to respond in the event of natural disasters through mechanisms to improve the timeliness of response and recovery at the national, parish and community levels.

Major Davis said that the project is important in improving public safety and communication before, during and after natural disasters, as it will ensure connectivity when the standard commercial systems stop working.

“If you (saw) what happened recently in the Eastern Caribbean where Irma and Maria went through, you would have found that the normal communication systems failed.

“We could not reach some heads of Government… and those communication systems are provided by the same providers we have in Jamaica, so we have to take another step. We have to make sure that we have a backup to the backup, and it’s a part of that business continuity plan that we are talking about,” he added.

The project is critical for the improvement of public security and safety; fire rescue, search and rescue (marine and land) and medical emergencies; evacuation planning, communication and mobilisation; the Emergency Operations Centre; and for the upgrading of communities and areas prone to flooding, storm surges, landslides and other hazards.

 

Release: JIS

 

 

 

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Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Government Revenues Soar

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#Kingston, November 25, 2022 – There has been a jump in Government revenue collection, with tax revenues for the first six months of the fiscal year exceeding budget by $35 billion.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said that the out-turn is as a result of higher-than-expected economic performance.

“The first quarter growth came out at 5.7 per cent… and all categories of revenue are over budget. Revenues from income and profits are up by nearly 13 per cent or $10 billion,” Dr. Clarke said.

In addition, he noted that revenues from production and consumption are up by seven per cent or $7 billion and revenues from international trade are up by 15 per cent or $18 billion. Revenues from motor-vehicle licences for the first six months of this year are 16 per cent higher than budgeted.

Dr. Clarke was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 22) where the First Supplementary Estimates for 2022/23 were approved.

The approval reflects a revised expenditure of $971 billion, from the previously approved budget of $912 billion for the financial year.

Minister Clarke said the First Supplementary Estimates come within the context of positive overperformance of the economy.

“As a result of this revenue overperformance… we are able to come to this Parliament six months after and put a Budget that proposes $60 billion in new expenditure,” Dr. Clarke said.

The largest component of the supplementary budget is the allocation for public-sector salaries and wages in keeping with the restructuring of compensation.

“We are allocating $16 billion there and there is another $2 billion to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and then about $3 billion for statutory deductions, making a total of $21 billion,” the Minister said.

 

Contact: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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