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Oil fund could repair crumbling infrastructure, improve health, education systems

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By Kemol King

Guyana DPI

 

#Guyana, January 15, 2022 – Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, said the public school and healthcare systems, along with the country’s infrastructure network, could benefit from the development that will come from Guyana’s oil money.

He made the comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday.

“Our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues.

Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.

We have health systems; we have educational systems that need help. It’s the poor people that have to go to the hospital. It’s the poor people that go to the public schools…”

He added that investments can also be made into reducing the costs of certain services like electricity, or into building the capacity of law enforcement to fight crime.

The minister said these sectors are where some of the major problems are, and act as bugbears for the country.

Already, the government has started rolling out an extensive infrastructure plan, building and repairing roads and highways across the country. The government has initiated processes for the construction of major infrastructural projects such as the Demerara River Crossing.

Investments are being made into upgrading healthcare facilities into modern sustainable providers for the poorest citizens.

In education, the government has provided 6,000 scholarships for ordinary Guyanese, and there are thousands more to come.

Minister Indar reminded that all the work government has done so far since taking up office in August 2020, have been done without using the oil money.

Some US$607 million sits in the Natural Resource Fund. The government has maintained that it would not spend a cent until a new Natural Resource Fund Act is in place. This was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December.

The Act allows the government to withdraw the total balance of the Fund in the first year. The Ministry of Finance explained that it is important for Guyana to use its resources to fund its development agenda, instead of burdening Guyana with unsustainable debt. Even then, Minister Indar explained that the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.

 

 

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Bahamas News

Mobile App brings unprecedented access & opportunity to Persons with Disabilities in The Bahamas

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#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.

As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.

For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.

Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.

At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.  Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.

The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.

Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.

She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities.  “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.

She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.

The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.

Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience.  UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Release: UNDP

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Bahamas News

Tropical Storm Owen in December?

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 8, 2022 – A low-pressure system observed in the Central Atlantic Ocean has led the National Hurricane Center to believe there is a 50 per cent chance a subtropical or tropical storm will develop. They reported on Tuesday,  the system was 800 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.

NHC said that by Thursday or Friday, the system should move northeastward, where it will interact with a mid-latitude trough, thereby limiting the chances of development.

The potential subtropical or tropical storm would become the 15th named storm of 2022 and will be called Owen.

Here is the very latest forecast:

Central Subtropical Atlantic

Showers and thunderstorms have increased since last evening near a

large non-tropical area of low pressure located over the central

subtropical Atlantic about 850 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

However, the system remains embedded within a frontal zone, which is

expected to become more pronounced later today as the low begins to

move east-northeastward at 20 to 25 mph toward colder waters and

interact with a mid-latitude trough.  Therefore, while the system

could show some subtropical characteristics today, its chances to

fully transition to a subtropical or tropical cyclone appear to be

decreasing.  Nevertheless, significant non-tropical development of

this low is expected during the next couple of days, and additional

information, including hurricane-force wind warnings, can be found

in High Seas Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service.  The

next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued

by 9 AM EST Thursday.

 

* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…30 percent.

* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent.

 

Photo Credit: ACCUWEATHER

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Caribbean News

Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness goes to Washington to discuss matters to help with crime

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, December 8, 2022 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, travelled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss security matters with various US State Agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. 

Holness said the aim of the meetings is to cut ties between local and overseas criminals and in turn strengthen the country’s crime-fighting efforts.

“I’m serious. If you are overseas and you are sponsoring, directing, and soliciting; if you are financing crime in Jamaica we’re going to get you,” he said.

In a press briefing in early November, the prime minister announced that a State of Emergency (SOE) was issued in seven parishes across the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding has requested that the SOE be extended through to January 14, 2023.

However, a recommendation was made by the non-governmental human rights and justice organization Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to reject Golding’s extension request.

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