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Affordable Housing Solutions a Priority for Government

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#Jamaica, November 24, 2021 – Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness says the thrust to provide innovative and affordable housing solutions for Jamaicans continues to be a priority for the government.

“The government has a role to stimulate the emergence of a community of thought around building and design in Jamaica,” he said.

Emphasising the importance of the collaboration of stakeholders in the construction industry in the development of innovative, cost-effective and affordable housing solution for Jamaicans, the Prime Minister noted that the initiative is intended to stimulate discussions on innovative building design technologies with a view to incorporating these in future developments.

“We are hoping that with these designs, we could use them to influence persons when they are making their construction decisions…When government is going to build, we will have these designs as templates that we can use,” he informed.

The Prime Minister was addressing the Low-Cost Housing Design competition virtual award ceremony on Tuesday (November 23).

Launched on May 7, the design competition aimed to encourage professionals in related fields to produce feasible solutions.  The competition solicited the participation of local architects, engineers, builders and students of the built environment, to identify cost effective, sustainable, climate resilient designs for the housing solutions to be built under the New Social Housing Programme.

There were over 300 submissions from individuals and teams.  Winners as well as second and third placed runners up were awarded with cash prizes of $1 million; $500,000 and $250,000 respectively for each of the competition’s four design categories: one bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms and multi-family units.

In addition, a cash prize of $50,000 was presented to honorary mentions for their innovative designs. All finalists also received plaques and special recognition certificates.  The winners for each category are: Richard Gazader for the one bedroom design; Zane Finnikin for the two bedroom design; Fitzroy McIntosh for the three bedroom; and Matandara Clarke Architects for the multi-family unit.

The winning entries from the competition will be utilised to inform the design of future housing solutions under the New Social Housing Programme.

Chair of the nine-member panel of judges for the Low-Cost Housing Design Competition Janet Thompson who presented the judges report, said the competition harnessed the talents of persons from a broad cross-section of the Jamaican population – professionals and amateurs alike.

“Coming out of the work that we did, it is clear that we have a wealth of ideas out there to address this challenge that we are trying to solve…There certainly are elements from many of the entries we received which can be taken forward into formulating a design solution that can address the … housing problem in Jamaica,” she said.

Outlining the judging criteria, Ms. Thompson said entries for each category which were compliant with the requirements were individually evaluated and the winner selected based on majority vote.

Entries were assessed on cost of the unit, innovation, climate resilience, functionality and materials.

Local Government and Rural Development Minister Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who noted that the competition promoted active engagement between citizens and the government in the design of affordable housing solutions, commended the private sector for its support of the initiative and urged buy-in of all Jamaicans.

“For every single Jamaican that we are able to provide a housing solution…, it will enhance and build the capacity of that single Jamaican,” he said.

The initiative forms part of the National Social Housing Programme (NSHP), an extension of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) which aims to improve the housing conditions of the country’s indigent.  It also supports affordable housing solutions for home ownership for persons from a low socioeconomic background.

 

Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CARICOM, UN applauds published decree establishing Haiti’s Transitional Government

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

The official order establishing the nine member Transitional Presidential Council in Haiti has been published in the official gazette, according to reports, a possible path to a new beginning for the gang-run nation.

CARICOM welcomed this development in a press release on April 12, a move it says will take Haiti through elections to bring back societal and political order. 

It further details the recent advancements. 

“…the Transitional Presidential Council has devised a framework setting out the creation, organization and functioning of the Council, and arrived at a Political Accord that articulates the way forward. The CARICOM Heads of Government fully endorse the principles of Political Accord and in particular take note of Article 16 which states, “The mission of the Presidential Council is to put Haiti back on the road to dignity, democratic legitimacy, stability and sovereignty and to ensure the proper functioning of the State’s institutions,” the organization maintained. 

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, also acknowledged the publishing of the decree, and he is calling on Haitian stakeholders to continue to facilitate the integration of the council and quickly appoint the interim Prime Minister, as returning stability within the Republic is paramount given recent gang developments.

It is important to note that despite the Council’s progression, gangs aren’t likely to allow an easy transition back to a government run Haiti like before, as indicated by major gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, who has expressed to the media that if “bandits” and poor people aren’t given a place at the table, a voice in the decision making, they won’t allow things to just go back.

Not to mention his intention to treat foreign forces intended to intervene on the ground in Haiti, as threats, that is, the Multinational Force to be led by Kenya.

Haiti has been in an elevated level of chaos since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. 

Gangs have killed thousands of people; men and women and children included. Just as many are displaced as their homes are no longer safe according to reports. 

Millions are starving, schools have been shut down, medical facilities also and the few still available are lacking resources to treat the injured, evoking global agreement that leaderless Haiti is sinking into the depths of a frightening humanitarian crisis.

It is hoped this decree is a development to stop the downward spiral in the quality of life in the republic, home to over 11 million people.

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HACKATHON TO EMPOWER CARIBBEAN GIRLS TO BECOME LEADERS IN STEM SECTOR

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KINGSTON, April 12 (JIS):

eLearning Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJAM) has partnered with local educational technology company, STEAMHouse, in hosting this year’s Crea+her Girls in ICT Hackathon, which began on April 11 and will end on April 16.

The virtual hackathon seeks to empower Caribbean girls aged 13 to 18 years to become leaders and accomplished professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry.

Chief Executive Officer of e-LJAM, Andrew Lee, said the initiative allows participants to acquire skills through a hands-on approach.

“It is imperative that we actively engage girls to participate in STEM. Historically, girls have been under-represented in this field and, of course, this deprives us of diversity. Our females are extremely talented and when we include them, we get a broader perspective,” Mr. Lee told JIS News.

e-LJAM is the State agency with responsibility for promoting integration and infusion of technology in the public education system.

Founder of STEAMHouse, Godiva Golding, told JIS News that approximately 15 teams representing groups of three to five students signed up for the hackathon.

The participants are being guided to develop innovative solutions combining themes such as telecommunications, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on areas like education, environmental sustainability and preserving cultural heritage.

(more)

Hackathon to empower…2

Their prototypes will be evaluated on April 18 and the top-10 creations will be presented on April 25, which is being recognised as International Girls in ICT Day under the theme ‘Leadership’.

Ms. Golding is pleased to have e-LJAM as the title sponsor for the hackathon and other events around International Girls in ICT Day.

“We could not think of a better partner than e-LJAM. They have been at the forefront and have done great work over the years. Having a partner with the leadership of Mr. Lee on board is just the icing on top to ensure that this is a successful series of events,” Ms. Golding said.

A special school tour will also be conducted. At least 500 girls are expected to benefit from this programme, which will offer interactive sessions and networking opportunities with accomplished women leaders in the technology field.

Additionally, the participants will have the chance to develop vital skills, such as public speaking, strategic thinking, and confidence-building.

CONTACT: ROCHEDA BARTLEY

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Draft Utility Policy Explained, Consultancy continues until May 24 

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Dana Malcolm 
Staff Writer 

The Multi-sector Utility Regulator Policy developed by the government is going to make utilities affordable and reliable for residents in the Turks and Caicos, at least that’s what the TCIG hopes.

Currently, in the consultation phase, when this policy is signed into law it will allow for the creation of a unified Regulatory Commission that oversees water and sewage, telecommunications, fuel, and electricity and makes sure that the monopolies or semi-monopolies that provide these services are doing so in the best interest of the residents who pay for their services.

The draft copy of the Policy lays out the specific objectives which are listed as:

  • Affordability which is measured by processes and outcomes during rate hearings.
  • Reliability which is measured by regulatory decisions enabling minimal service interruptions and timely service deliveries such as interconnections.
  • Economic Competitiveness which is measured by decisions on rates and service delivery compared to relevant jurisdictions.
  • Innovation which is measured by regulatory decisions enabling access to new technologies and business models, and finally
  •  Environmental Sustainability which is measured by regulatory decisions that advance/support regulatory service providers in meeting government goals on climate change and other aspects of sustainability.

All of this is geared toward value for money and better service for TC Residents but how will the Regulatory Commission operate to achieve the aims?

Firstly it won’t be directly controlled by the government. The document explains that TCIG alone will have the power to set the legislation that regulates the sector. The Commission is then bound to follow those rules and all its decisions must be based on law. However, The Commission will be independent of the Government in the operation of its duties and responsibilities.

Some of those legally established duties include: managing utility rates and tariffs; monitoring and compliance; granting and renewing licenses and Research and Development to advance the use of new technologies.

Another requirement of the body will be transparency, to ensure that both customers and investors trust and can substantiate the decisions being made.

The Multi-sector Agency will it be able to carry out inspections if providers fail to provide necessary information, and it has the authority to ‘collaborate with academic institutions, research organizations, and industry players to support innovation’.

Importantly the agency is to be charged with ensuring decisions advance the public interest for today and the future.

Additionally, according to the draft policy, it is to have a board made up of experts in utilities who must be ‘persons of integrity’ appointed by the government. With no need for a team of experts 24/7 The Commission will have a Chief Executive Officer who will manage a small team of regulatory officers and staff which will be supported by experts on an as-
needed basis.

The government is now undertaking consultation to get thoughts and concerns from all stakeholders including residents regarding the policy and eventual setup of the Agency. The need for the Regulatory body is crucial according to Kyle Knowles, Minister of Public Safety and Utilities.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands have witnessed unprecedented growth, bringing to the fore the urgent need for regulatory reform in our utility sector. The current challenges, including requests for rate increases and water shortages, underscore the limitations of our existing regulatory framework to effectively manage and mitigate such issues,” he said

The consultation will run until May 24, 2024.

 

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