120 Memorable Moments In Jamaica In 2013

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What a year 2013 has been! There have been many memorable moments, including a fractious political leadership challenge, a new IMF deal, shocking positive drug tests for some of our elite athletes,  international glory and accolades for other sprinting stars and, of course, a major breakthrough for one of the best voices to come out of this little island. Join us as we recap the highs and lows of 2013 from a Jamaican perspective.

  1. An estimated 111,000 Jamaicans escaped the income tax net, as the threshold increase announced by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips during budget debate last May took effect on New Year’s Day.
  2. More good news at the top of the year: the country’s murder rate recorded its fourth consecutive year of decline.
  3. Jamaica’s winter tourist season received a boost from the Russians, as 320 of them landed at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on the first flight directly from that country.
  4. Michael Frater traded in MVP for Racers Track Club, joining the camp of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
  5. The Calabash International Literary Festival will have to go on without Colin Channer, the celebrated author who was instrumental in bringing it to life in 2001.
  6. A Jamaican who contracted malaria while visiting an African country sent the entire public health sector into frenzy, as they rushed to prevent an outbreak.
  7. After a decade of expensive flirting and the expenditure of some US$4 million, the government finally ended its attempt at introducing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the solution to the country’s high electricity prices.
  8. The 2012 Biennial art exhibition opened at the National Gallery of Jamaica, featuring 126 works by 86 artists.
  9. Indeed, there was better in store for film-maker Storm Saulter as his movie, Better Mus’ Come, received a distribution deal in the United States, through African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). Similarly, Chris Browne’s urban action drama, Ghett’A Life, later picked up widespread release in North America on DVD by Blockbuster.
  10. More than $100 million in unauthorised overtime payments within the public sector was unearthed by the Auditor General’s Department.
  11. The black, green and gold once again took to the skies, this time courtesy of new airline Fly Jamaica Airways.
  12. The rampant multi-billion dollar lottery scam industry was almost brought before the US Congress.
  13. Thousands of Digicel customers had reason for concern as the network’s database was allegedly hacked.
  14. Some 3,000 persons from 12 inner-city communities in the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Inner-City Basic Services Project received free birth certificates.
  15. Many people ‘got happy’ and got the message of the popular Volkswagen Super Bowl ad, despite insinuations of racism from some in the American media.
  16. Interested in data on Jamaica’s renewable energy prospects? The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) website has you covered.
  17. Jamaica’s plan to train aviation professionals for the global markets was cleared for take off by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
  18. National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCBJ) temporarily shelves plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange based on pricing concerns by investors.
  19. The Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James joins the ranks of Jamaica’s infrastructural white elephants, bleeding the country’s coffers of $1 million per day in maintenance costs.
  20. Speaking of white elephants, residents and tenants of the Palmyra Resort & Spa, also in Montego Bay, were given four days to vacate the premises as the property’s overseers refused to continue funding increasing maintenance costs.
  21. Jamaica entered into a second debt-exchange programme, dubbed the NDX, in another bid to rescue the ailing economy.
  22. Following the announcement of the NDX, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips unleashed a $15.9-billion tax package described by his counterpart as “massive and iniquitous.”
  23. The highly publicised Irwin Point, St James rape case suffered a major setback when the results of DNA tests failed to implicate the two brothers charged in connection with the incident.
  24. Highway 2000 goes solar with 221 street lights installed along several legs of the road.
  25. The passing of former president Hugo Chavez set off fears in Jamaica about the PetroCaribe alliance. Explore the ties that bind Venezuela and Jamaica.
  26. The Net International Reserves (NIR) dipped below US$1 billion for the first time in 12 years.
  27. Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell declared that the Government will reintroduce the controversial Cuban light bulb project, even as the current trial against Kern Spencer drags on.
  28. The record books were rewritten several times over the course of the 103rd anniversary of Boys and Girls Champs, as Calabar High and Holmwood Technical High schools claimed the respective titled.
  29. Reputed leader of the Spanish Town-based Clansman gang, Tesha Miller, was freed of gun charges and later sued the government for damages.
  30. Bacteria-laden toilet paper caused a stink – local authorities found that the bacterial count on some tissue and paper towels was up to 30 times the allowable limit.
  31. Jamaica’s junior athletes again dominated the Carifta Games, even though they were unfairly targeted for drug testing, according to head coach David Riley.
  32. Olympic and World Champion 400m hurdler Melaine Walker also changed lanes
  33. Police warn the public to beware of the ‘grabber,’ a machine that can reproduce users’ credit card information. Interestingly, there is currently no law against ordering these machines online and bringing them into the island.
  34. The controversial US$400 million Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) comes to an end, replaced by the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which is partly funded by the China Ex-Im Bank.
  35. Grade 6 students and their parents can rejoice: GSAT to get a makeover and a new name: PEP – Primary Exit Profile exams.
  36. The Spaldings Market/Richard Azan saga begins as ‘mystery’ shops are constructed and rented to vendors without permission from the Clarendon Parish Council. Azan is later found to be ‘corrupt‘ by the Office of the Contractor General, but is soon reinstated by the PNP.
  37. Strapped for cash, the government pulls more than $30 billion from the surplus of state entities.
  38. The University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) found itself against the financial ropes, while the University of Technology (UTech) managed to hold its own.
  39. Jamaican scientist saves animals from lab testing.
  40. The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) gives customers the power to cut their energy bills with e-Store.
  41. Despite racking up multi-million dollar losses over the past decade, the yet-to-materialise Harmony Cove project will not be shut down.
  42. The government threatens to withdraw the Air Jamaica brand from Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines following reports that the carrier would be reducing the number of daily flights to Jamaica.
  43. Minister of industry, investment and commerce, Anthony Hylton, shrugged off sceptics of the government’s much-touted logistics hub.
  44. Delinquent Student’s Loan Bureau borrowers who work with the government could have sums deducted from their salaries to meet their obligations.
  45. Eighty per cent of local charitable organisations are not compliant with the Companies Office of Jamaica. A bill, titled the Charities Act, was tabled on September 17 to introduce regulations for charitable organisations.
  46. Despite public perception, Jamaica’s politicians are amongst the worst paid in the region – not that our economic performance warrants any such salary increase.
  47. Police worry that the ‘white lady’ may be coming back to Jamaica, years after they dismantled an international cocaine trade ring.
  48. Jamaica College principal, Ruel Reid, charged politicians to be more decisive in ensuring that proper family planning is enforced in the country.
  49. Former head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Joan Gordon-Webley, received a slap on the wrist for breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act.
  50. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced the restart of the Inner-City Housing Project (ICHP), in a bid to “lift the standard and thinking of the people” in depressed communites.
  51. Following several missed deadlines and sustained outcry from concerned parties, Public Defender Earl Witter finally delivered the long-awaited interim report on the 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion.
  52. Also delayed but just as welcomed: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) finally approved Jamaica’s application for a four-year extended fund facility.
  53. Reviews were mixed regarding the health ministry’s plan to implement a referral system, which would require persons in need of medical treatment to first visit a health centre in their area to determine if it is necessary to go to a hospital.
  54. An unnamed company purchased 114 of 205 seized vehicles for a total of $483,200 – $4,238.60 each.
  55. The Ministry of Education suspended the granting of study leave to teachers as it moves to tighten its finances.
  56. The government is taking steps to develop a new Trespass Act to deal with the issue of land tenure and squatting.
  57. The family of businessman Keith Clarke, who was fatally shot when members of the security forces went in search of then fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, filed an $18 million lawsuit against the state.
  58. Head of the Centre For Investigation Of Sexual Offences & Child Abuse (CISOCA) promised to “name and shame” cops accused of rape.
  59. Mobile customers rejoiced as the Office of Utilities Regulation approved a mobile termination rate of $1.10.
  60. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller considered providing mathematics and science teachers to Tanzania in southern Africa, even amidst concerns about poor performance by local students in these areas.
  61. Friday June 7, 2013 is a day many Jamaicans won’t soon forget, as it was the day when our dollar broke the psychological barrier of $100 to US$1.
  62. Filing for someone or waiting for a relative in the US to file for you? Then you should know that immigration laws are about to change.
  63. Too much freeness causing declining level of service at the island’s public hospitals.
  64. Thankfully, Jamaica escaped the 2013 hurricane season unscathed, because the government declared that its disaster fund was practically empty.
  65. The 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference held in Montego Bay was deemed a success. Click here for highlights.
  66. Theodore Whitmore’s ‘Samba 2014′ dreams were dashed as he was “asked to resign” as national football coach.
  67. Sprint queen Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic at the Jamaica International Invitational meet. She was later given a public warning following a disciplinary hearing. The verdict is yet to be confirmed or rejected by the IAAF.
  68. Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips rubbishes claims that a move to amend the Revenue Administration Act to allow tax authorities to collect information on taxpayers and make disclosures to foreign authorities is espionage.
  69. Non-smokers have one less reason for concern, following the announcement of a ban on smoking in public places.
  70. Bishop Herro Blair quit his oversight role as political ombudsman.
  71. Rate hikes took effect at the Vineyards, Spanish Town, Portmore, and May Pen toll plazas, forcing some Portmore motorists to temporarily boycott the route.
  72. It is common for GSAT students to be not be placed in their school of choice in favour of one closer to home or based on performance, but this year, some sixth graders found themselves placed at a school that is still under construction.
  73. National 400m specialist Novlene Williams-Mills received an outpouring of support ahead of the World Championships in Moscow, Russia after she  revealed that she is a breast cancer survivor.
  74. A posh Millsborough house was raided and gay squatters removed. The house was later demolished.
  75. Lack of evidence and witness testimonies resulted in a low 30 per cent conviction rate in the Corporate Area Gun Court.
  76. Plans for an agriculture park project at Amity Hall, St Catherine were halted amidst environmental breaches.
  77. July 14 is a black day in Jamaica’s sporting history as five athletes, including Olympic medallists Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, tested positive for banned substances.
  78. Jamaica’s young athletes outshone the world at the IAAF World Youth Championships (WYC) in Donetsk, Ukraine. So impressive were the performances that a number of the athletes received scholarships upon returning to Jamaica.
  79. Eighteen-year-old Gina Hargitay was crowned Miss Jamaica World and represented the country at the Miss World pageant in Bali, Indonesia, where she placed in the top 10 and earned the title Miss World Caribbean.
  80. A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report revealed that 106 drug tests were conducted by the Jamaican authority in 2012, but JADCO chairman, Dr Herb Elliott, contended that that is enough, considering the country’s size.
  81. Auditors poring over the finances of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) uncovered a massive fraud that could have siphoned off close to $100 million.
  82. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security was forced to police its Overseas Employment (farm work) programme to the United States and Canada after fraudulent activity is uncovered.
  83. Shrugging off the pressure created by the positive drug tests of five of their colleagues, Jamaica’s athletes, led by Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, lit up the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia with stunning performances. Jamaica  mined nine medals – six gold, two silver and one bronze, to place third on the medal table.
  84. Will Jamaica become an atheist society? One British-based scientist thinks so.
  85. Cabinet approved a 25 per cent increase for the public transportation sector, but took the decision to keep the concessionary fare at $20 for students, the elderly and the disabled.
  86. Few Jamaicans knew the Goat Islands even existed until it was named as the proposed site for the creation of a logistics hub by Chinese investors, but they rose to national prominence as environmentalists objected to any development in the ecologically sensitive area.
  87. Former JADCO boss Renee Anne Shirley became persona non grata after writing a damning article about Jamaica’s drug testing lapses in Sports Illustrated.
  88. Jamaica’s fiscal performance for the last financial year and the first quarter of the current year exceeded IMF projections, despite declines in several key areas.
  89. Jamaica was  ranked as possibly the worst place for women to do business in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  90. The Jamaica Tallawahs defeated favourites Guyana Amazon Warriors by seven wickets in the final of the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League.
  91. Prominent Jamaican scientist, Dr Henry Lowe, challenged the Government to pave the way for the development of a medical marijuana industry.
  92. Jermaine ‘Tuffy’ Anderson finally received the call he had been waiting for his whole career – to actually get on the field for the Reggae Boyz. He made good on his chance, scoring to level a match against Costa Rica, but it was too little, too late for the team.
  93. The Electoral Commission of Jamaica backed down on a proposal to limit the total amount of contribution given to a candidate by a donor in a single campaign period to $1 million.
  94. Azurest Cambridge was selected as the preferred bidder for the government’s 360-megawatt power project amidst controversy, but was eventually disqualified in favour of rival bidder, Energy World International/Pacific LNG (EWI), after failing to make the US$6.9 million deposit (one per cent) to the OUR.
  95. The lack of a regulated rural school bus system was again cause for concern, following a tragic accident that claimed the lives of four Holmwood students.
  96. The Judicature (Resident Magistrates) Act was amended to increase the number of resident magistrates (RMs) in the country’s court system from 50 to 70, in a bid to tackle the case backlog.
  97. Shanique Myrie, who was reportedly subjected to a painful and humiliating body-cavity search in unsanitary conditions at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados two years ago, had reason to rejoice as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled in her favour.
  98. Celebrated Jamaican concert pianist Orrett Rhoden rejected the Order of Distinction (Commander Class), only to recant three days later.
  99. The majority of National Water Commission (NWC) customers were hit with an 18 per cent hike in their bills at the end of October.
  100. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller invited WADA to conduct an audit of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s (JADCO) drug-testing programme.
  101. Three people received new kidneys as the first such transplants were carried out at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.
  102. Fears of plagiarism in high schools grew following the disqualification of 70 Jamaica College students who sat physics in the 2013 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination, after an investigation into wrongdoing with SBAs.
  103. The attractive benefits that wooed companies to the Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market will be phased out by December 21, 2021.
  104. There wasn’t much to celebrate in football this year, but our young Reggae Girlz lifted the Caribbean Football Union under-20 trophy after defeating Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in the tournament final.
  105. Opposition senator Alexander Williams called for a referendum on making the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Jamaica’s final court of appeal.
  106. After eight years in gestation, Parliament finally passed a bill which will give legal standing to the Church of Haile Salassie I.
  107. The whistle-blower act is still not in operation, nearly three years after it was passed into law.
  108. The cash-strapped Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) discontinued its ticket transfer system, much to the chagrin of many travellers.
  109. Media practitioners in Jamaica celebrated as the long-awaited Defamation Act was finally passed, replacing the 162-year-old Libel and Slander Act and the 52-year-old Defamation Act.
  110. Opposition leader Andrew Holness deftly fended off a challenge from Audley Shaw to retain his position, with a decisive 2,704- to 2,012-vote victory in a historic JLP leadership race.
  111. Sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce topped off a golden year by being crowned IAAF World Athletes of the Year. This was only the third time that athletes from the same country were named both male and female athletes of the year.
  112. The already strained relationship between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago took another hit late in the year, as 12 Jamaicans were denied entry to the twin-island republic.
  113. The JPS is still attempting to recover more than $160 million in damages sustained during Tropical Storm Gustav in 2008 by adding new charges to customers’ bills. The case is currently before the All-Island Electricity Tribunal.
  114. Members of Jamaica’s homosexual community were not pleased with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s delay in reviewing the buggery law. However, they believe she is still their best hope for equality.
  115. Alleged former Shower Posse leader, Richard ‘Storyteller’ Morrison, who was deported to Jamaica in Januray, sued the government for his 1991 extradition to the United States.
  116. Funding is now in place for the purchase of a state-of-the-art machine to be used in the provision of cancer care.
  117. The latest National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report highlighted troubling trends in local schools and amongst educators.
  118. Songbird Tessanne Chin demonstrated to the rest of the world what Jamaica music lovers already knew – that she is The Voice.
  119. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) officially confirmed that Jamaica has passed the second test under the four-year extended fund facility.
  120. Students at 24 institutions across the country will be exposed to the new grades one to nine curricula when the new school term begins in January.

What were your memorable moments of 2013? Share with us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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