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BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN BRAILLE

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KINGSTON, May 8 (JIS): BY: SHERIKA HALL

For many years, members of the visually impaired community have faced significant challenges in accessing printed information, often having to rely on others for assistance.

This lack of autonomy has hindered their ability to fully participate in various aspects of society.

However, with the recent implementation of Braille birth certificates, this long-standing barrier is being removed, paving the way for a more inclusive landscape where individuals with visual impairments can navigate their own journeys with greater independence and confidence.

On May 1, 2024, Executive Director at the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB), Conrad Harris, was the first person to receive a copy of the freshly printed Braille document.

He expresses his elation to JIS News, describing it as a “great experience” to have a document in a format that he can easily read.

“One of the issues we have from time to time is that when we have information that is in print, we may ask somebody to read it, but the person who reads it might only read the information that they think is important and not necessarily everything in the document,” Mr. Harris explains.

This, of course, is no longer the case, as “having a Braille certificate means that I am able to go through it myself. I can easily check the spellings of names and places, which I might not be easily able to do with something that is in print,” he said.

The Braille certificate also provides an opportunity for the document to be easily identified and separated from others.

“If you need it for a particular reason, you can easily separate it from the other documents that you have versus probably having to ask somebody to look through or using some kind of technology to scan the information, which would take a little bit longer,” the Executive Director says.

Additionally, this initiative will provide an added sense of security as there are those people who generally want to keep their personal information private.

Designed in collaboration with several key stakeholders, including the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), these Braille certificates are meticulously crafted to ensure that every detail is conveyed with precision and elegance.

Each certificate, according to the Department’s former Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Keeper of Records, Charlton McFarlane, features embossed Braille text, allowing recipients to tangibly experience the pride that comes with being able to read the information for themselves.

He further shared details on why the initiative was undertaken in the first place, during an interview with JIS News.

Mr. McFarlane said that while participating in the first post-COVID Civil Registration Conference for Latin America and Caribbean countries, held in the Dominican Republic in 2022, using civil registration as the basis for inclusivity was key among the topics discussed.

“We looked at some case studies and the one that stood out to me was for a State in Mexico that offered birth certificates and other vital documents in Braille,” he said.

He even went as far back as 2008 when he was serving as a Director within the Ministry of Health.

During that time “we collaborated with members from the disabled community to produce health education material in Braille. So, with that experience, knowing what it had done and then with what I saw happening in Mexico, I got the idea that we could really produce all vital documents in Braille”.

Before embarking on the initiative, he acknowledged that he did, in fact, reach out to members of the JSB, the Combined Disabilities Association and the Jamaica Counsel for Persons with Disabilities.

“I don’t like to waste time and resources, so I reached out to them first,” Mr. McFarlane said, adding that “once I received a resounding yes, details on how to produce the certificates were shared.

“One of the things we [had to take into consideration] was having two separate documents (one with the standard print and the other in Braille), because the Braille is bulky when printed,” he noted.

This posed another challenge as not many business entities would accept the braille copy due to their inability to read the Braille text.

However, as the consultations went on, a decision was made to have the two documents intertwined into one.

“Right now, how it’s done, is the material is printed and then the Braille is embossed over it,” the former CEO said.

The introduction of Braille certificates is not just a symbolic gesture, it represents a tangible commitment that “the Government is absolutely very, very serious about inclusion for every single citizen, regardless of the level of vulnerability that may exist,” Mr. McFarlane added.

This certificate, he added, is not only for members of the visually impaired community but for all persons who would like to have their birth certificates in both print and Braille formats on one document.

Bahamas News

Minister Moxey says AAM2024 is significant to the country

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Making an address on the first day of Afreximbank’s Annual Meetings (AAM) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024 on Wednesday, June 12, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey pointed out the significance of the meetings in The Bahamas, and the impact on Grand Bahama.

It is the first time AAM is held in the Caribbean region.  The 31st AAM sessions run June 12 – 14, 2024 at Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach.  The theme for the event is: “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.”

She said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this AAM and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is critical for nurturing the relationship we have intentionally progressed over the last few years, including the historic signing between Afreximbank and CARICOM, unlocking an astounding $1.5 billion in funding; the many trade missions between both regions; and tomorrow the signing of a Project Preparation Facility with Afreximbank and the Government of The Bahamas on the development of an Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center on Grand Bahama Island – my island — a magnificent center for the promotion of tourism, commerce and trade between both regions.

“As we contemplate the historical ties that bind us, may we recognize the significant role of trade and the immense opportunities that lie before us.

“Trade has always been the lifeblood of economies, and as we join hands to explore new avenues, great things will happen.”

Minister Moxey continued, “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and well-established infrastructure, stands as a gateway…and it is at the crossroads of two-way trade.

“Our beautiful country has emerged as a major transshipment terminal, facilitating the seamless flow of goods and creating linkages across continents.”

The Caribbean region is focused on trade and investment opportunities with Africa, and the meeting in Nassau demonstrates the importance of the matter, she said.

In closing, she said, “The Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center will not only boost economic growth but also strengthen the bonds of friendship and cultural understanding between both regions.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

1st insert –  At the Welcome Reception for Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) at Baha Mar Resort, Wednesday, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey, at podium, gives an address on the importance of the meetings.

2nd insert – In photos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper chats with Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley.

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs and Eric Rose)

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Caribbean News

Caribbean Central Bank Governors agree to NEW Trade Regime for ease of doing business

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 18, 2024 – Regional Central Bank Governors have agreed to implement a system that allows countries in the Caribbean to trade using each other’s currencies without a third-party currency.

Making the disclosure, Governor of the Barbados Central Bank, Kevin Greenidge who is also the Chairman of the CARICOM Central Bank Governors, said it will be a version of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) which was launched by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in January 2022 to reduce reliance on hard currencies like the US dollar for transactions between African nations.

Once it is replicated in the Caribbean, the system could allow goods and services to be paid for directly in the currencies of the respective CARICOM nations involved, rather than being settled in a third currency like the US dollar, arguing thatg the payment system would reduce transaction costs, minimise the need for holding substantial foreign currency reserves, facilitate smoother intra-regional trade and lead to lower retail prices for consumers.

Noting that the decision was unanimous, Mr. Greenidge said “we just had a meeting in May, and we agreed to push ahead with the pilot programme and we have a technical team working out some of the kinks, how to move ahead with the programme. We are approaching that as soon as possible,” he said while addressing the recent AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024), at the Baha Mar Convention Centre in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Central banker who once served as the senior economist who supervised Barbados’ economic restructuring programme for the International Monetary Fund, before taking up the Governor’s job in March 2023, argued that “If we get with one voice and start to speak to these things, call for reforming the way the rating agencies view and assess our position, including debt, we will then make a difference,” he told his audience.

Adding further, he said the region can get where it wants on its own, as he urged both regions to speak with one voice on reforming global financial architecture, while accusing credit rating agencies of bias against small economies.

Speaking with one voice in the Caribbean, in support like the Bridgetown Initiative, Mr. Greenidge believes “we can make a difference.” The Bridgetown Initiative calls for reform of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to better support climate-vulnerable countries.

“The more we can achieve partnerships around the world, the better we are regarding financing and investment in Barbados and providing the necessary diverse products to do the financing we need. Naturally, the African continent would be a partnership,” he said

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Caribbean News

Jamaica Ripe for Business

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#Kingston, Jamaica, June 18, 2024 – Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, says Jamaica is one of the most attractive investment destinations in the Caribbean and is urging more diaspora members to do business in the country.

Senator Hill was addressing a panel discussion on Monday (June 17) on the topic ‘Jamaica Open for Business: Transforming Investment and Enterprise in Jamaica through Diaspora Engagement’ at the 10th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

He cited the stability of the local currency as a key reason to invest in the island.

“There is no foreign exchange control in Jamaica. Clean money comes in and clean money goes out,” he noted.

The fact that the Government has been able to undertake infrastructure development and deliver critical services, particularly during the pandemic, without raising taxes, speaks to the strength of the economy, he said.

“We’ve gone through a pandemic where we had to spend $100 billion of Jamaican money that we didn’t plan to spend and yet we didn’t borrow any new money and we didn’t raise taxes. In fact, for the last eight years…what we have done with taxes is cut them. We cut the payroll tax twice and cut VAT (value-added tax) once,” Senator Hill said.

He added that the infrastructure buildout, real estate potential and Jamaica’s position as the logistics hub of the Caribbean also makes the country attractive to investors.

“This is where your money should be. Come to Jamaica,” Senator Hill appealed.

For Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Financial Group, Grace Burnett, the highly productive and English-speaking talent pool is a major reason Jamaica is open for business.

“Our literacy rate is well over 92 per cent and we have a very stable democracy. When you look at some of the endorsements we have received from overseas institutions on ease of doing business and how we are performing as an economy, we have a very stable, strong regulatory framework and very supportive environment for starting a business and growing a business,” she explained.

Managing Director of JN Fund Managers at JN Group, Brando Hayden, explained that the risk management and infrastructure necessary to give investors comfort is strongly in place.

“When you come to Jamaica, not only are we open for business, your investment or your participation is backed up by solid infrastructure. We have the Jamaica Central Securities Depository and when you invest through the stock market, whether it is a bond, a stock and they also do private equity and private debt, you know there is solid record for your investment. From the depository, you know exactly how much you have and you get your dividend payments,” Mr. Hayden said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of VM Finance Limited and VM Overseas Offices at the VM Group, Leighton Smith, underscored that Jamaica’s economic stability, strategic location, strength of the financial sector, skilled workforce and diverse investment opportunities are factors that make Jamaica attractive to investors.

“What makes Jamaica the perfect landscape is when we think of the trade policies that exist… in terms of being the strategic location, which affords the opportunity to gain access to markets – CARICOM and the United States,” Mr. Smith said.

 

Contact: Judana Murphy

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