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Tourism Arrivals Gains Holding

New data released from the Jamaica Tourist Board revealed that Long Stay Arrivals were up 3.3% versus October 2017 to reach a new all-time high for the month of 162,552. That is considerable growth given that just 2 years ago, Jamaica was receiving only 135,467 visitors for the month of October.

These visitors tend to stay up to 8 days and more than 75% were headed for the resort areas of Montego Bay, Negril or Ocho Rios.

Cruise Ship Visitors

On the cruise side, there was good news of sorts as the unfortunate devastation that was the 2017 Hurricane Season which led to the biggest October in history in 2017, only fell in 2018 by 18.7%. This indicates that Jamaica’s cruise ship product has proven itself viable, despite announced pullouts by major cruise lines. Although 2018 is running 2% behind 2017, it is still 10% above 2016’s arrivals.

Unfortunately for the month, with cruise ship arrivals falling so sharply, overall tourist arrivals from all sources fell 7.5% versus October 2017. However, year to date, total number of tourists from all sources is up 2% over 2017. Expect November to also fall short of last year’s windfall arrivals.

Keep linked in to diGJamaica’s economic indicators for the latest weekly and monthly indicators.

Falmouth rebounding as preferred cruise port

Windfall – Hurricanes blow 68 cruise ships into Falmouth port

NIR – December 7, 2018

While everyone was tracking the arrival of Buju Banton’s plane, an important economic indicator was released by the Bank of Jamaica – the Net International Reserve number.

As at the end November 2018, reserves stood at US$2.899 Billion. While that number is still significant, it represents the fourth consecutive decline in reserves. That is the first time this has happened since the period October 2014 – January 2015, when the reserves were about US$1 Billion less.

The NIR retreated by 0.9% as compared to last month, while being 7% smaller than at the same time last year. Jamaica is still much better than two years ago, however, having 13% more reserves.

So far for the calendar year 2018, the NIR has lost 9% of its value.

Follow diGJamaica’s economic indicators for weekly and monthly updates as they occur.

Tell Your MP

Opening up the political process in this way will take some getting used to, but our entire political system can only gain from giving citizens greater ownership of the entire democratic process—by having a greater say and the much-needed transparency to monitor how their tax dollars are being spent.
Julian Robinson
MP South East St Andrew

Jamaican citizens living or working in the South East St Andrew constituency now have the right to ‘Tell Your MP’, Julian Robinson, how to spend his Constituency Development Funds (CDF) via the app on Google Play and website at tellyourmp.com.jm. This pilot project could provide a model for civic participation, strengthening democracy and transparency, across all constituencies in Jamaica.

In Phase One (October 25 – November 21) the project allows citizens to suggest ideas for their MP to implement using available funds of J$1million. In Phase Two (January 3 – January 23) they can vote on which ideas should become projects. Finally in Phase Three (launching January 24) they can monitor the implementation of these projects. An extra Youth Innovation component offers youth aged 16-30 financial and technical assistance to build technology solutions for community problems.

 

Priority will be given to ideas that promote:

  • Youth Employment
  • Community Peace Building and Crime Reduction
  • Digital Skills/Literacy

Tell Your MP is a collaboration between the constituency office of South East St. Andrew; the Mona School of Business and Management through the Caribbean Open Institute, a regional coalition supporting open development approaches to inclusion, participation and innovation; and the Kingston-based SlashRoots Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to improve how governments in the region interacts with citizens in this digital age.

 The pilot project builds on MSBM’s earlier research on participatory budgeting, which led to the initial development of the app. According to Dr. Maurice McNaughton, “Technology can lower barriers to civic participation, and amplify the reach and voice of ordinary citizens in public governance. We are particularly interested in experimenting with the use of digital mechanisms that can increase the engagement and participation of young people in decision-making and resource-allocation in their communities.”

SlashRoots has spent several months consulting with community stakeholders to gain their feedback about how best to conduct the process and used that to further develop the website and app to facilitate citizens participating in each of the three phases.

“It’s been fascinating to meet with community groups, to learn from them about how our democracy is functioning in real life, and then try and harness this to build an online platform that can help scale up their efforts. It’s vital always in our way of working that we find ways of making technology accessible to people, in ways that can boost their lives—and bridge the gap between either the digital divide or low civic participation,” said SlashRoots Senior Service Designer Denique Ferguson.

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How to participate

For more information, and to participate in Phase One by submitting ideas, citizens living or working in South East St Andrew can visit tellyourmp.com.jm, or download the ‘Tell Your MP’ app from Google Play.

About SlashRoots Foundation:

SlashRoots is a social impact organisation that uses the principles and practices of the digital age to create a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable Caribbean society. With the use of technology we help governments, NGOs and civil societies to improve the design and delivery of social services and development programmes.

For more information, please contact:

Scotiabank To Sell Nine Operations In Caribbean

 

Scotiabank announced an agreement to sell its banking operations in nine non-core markets in the Caribbean to Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited.

The countries included Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, according to a Scotiabank release.

Republic Financial indicated that it will spend a total of US$123 million for the acquisition.

“The purchase price represents a US$25 million consideration for the total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited, and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries,” stated Republic Financial, adding that the purchase price does not include any amounts required to capitalize the businesses.

“These transactions are not financially material to Scotiabank,” said the bank in the release geared at its Canada investors.

The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Already  Prime Minister, Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda has expressed disappointment at the planned deal.

The deal should increase Scotiabank’s common equity tier 1 capital ratio by some 10 basis points upon closing. Tier one common capital ratio is a measurement of a bank’s core equity capital compared with its total risk-weighted assets that signifies its financial strength. Tier 1 common capital excludes any preferred shares or non-controlling interests.

“Due to increasing regulatory complexity and the need for continued investment in technology to support our regulatory requirements, we made the decision to focus the Bank’s efforts on those markets with significant scale in which we can make the greatest difference for our customers,” said Ignacio Deschamps, group head, international banking at Scotiabank in the release.

“Scotiabank is committed to the Caribbean as demonstrated by the Bank’s ongoing investment in products, services and processes to provide an enhanced banking experience to customers across the region,” he added.

Republic Financial is a leading financial group based in Trinidad & Tobago with operations across the Caribbean and Ghana. As part of the proposed deal, Scotiabank employees in the nine countries will join the Republic Group.

Scotiabank’s global banking and markets division acted as exclusive financial advisor to Scotiabank on the transaction. Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acted as Scotiabank’s legal advisor.

Scotiabank, based in Canada, operates a chain of banks in 50 countries with more than 25 million customers.

– steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com

Turtle Hatching

Written by Danielle Mullings

As the year halts to a close, most Jamaicans are eagerly awaiting the sounds of carols and the sights of Christmas lights. In St. Elizabeth the views are slightly different.

Tis the season for turtle hatching. Here is a photo captured at local resort 77 West. This is the third hatching for the month.

This was seen in Billy’s Bay, St. Elizabeth at Villa Elia:

Girls Who Know JA

Written by: Danielle Mullings

What inspires this organization is how much we need to be aware of the things that affect us. Being in Girls Who Know inspires me to lead and empower females and males.
Antonette Hines
Vice President

Developed in 2017 by 18 year old Chelsea Wright, Girls Who Know JA seeks to provide comprehensive sexuality education to the young people of Jamaica. This movement is led by youth under 20 years old which allows it to connect directly with this target population. The organization aims to raise awareness among adolescent females ages 13-19, about Sexual and Reproductive Health as well as the rights associated with this aspect of their life, through implementing Comprehensive Sexuality Education that is culture, gender and age specific.

GWK in partnership with a highschool UN club put on a forum for high school students. It is their biggest event to date which saw students from across the Kingston and St. Andrew area interacting with experts on sexual and reproductive health issues. The group has also done visits to two girls homes treating them to period pouches and comfortable discussions surrounding empowerment. The visits included a speech from reigning Miss Universe Jamaica, Emily Maddison who is an avid member and supporter.

Even though it’s education and empowerment for girls, when the guys benefit from the education they will learn as well to respect women. A culture shift has to occur.
Chelsea Wright
Founder and President

The 2nd Vice President Antonette Hines credits the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network and UNESCO Youth Ambassador programs for educating her about the sustainable development goals and how to build proper advocacy campaigns. It is this knowledge that has informed her work with Girls Who Know. Antonnette’s message to young people is, “Don’t be ashamed of your voice. Everyone’s thoughts experiences and challenges are different. Every opinon should be valued. This idea of being ashamed to ask questions or say what you think has to be put aside. One of the main ways to empower people is to give them knowledge. This gives them the power of choice.”

 

The founder. Chelsea Wright, has been awarded for her work in Girls Who Know with the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Nation Building 2018.

Contact them at girlswhoknowja@gmail.com or on Instagram @girlswhoknowja

Lauren Le Franc Merging Coffee And Technology

Owner of True Blue Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, Lauren Le Franc, is embarking on a huge business venture by assisting coffee farmers globally. Her business is now registered in the UK as The Little Coffee Company and her mission is to bring a difference to the coffee industry with technological solutions.

Her mission to help farmers has taken her across Africa. Little Coffee Company plans to use technology to change the balance of power across industries.

It not only allows buyers direct access to farmers but offers complete transparency from the farmer to end consumer. This data is not only beneficial for buyers but helps to increase the income of farmers and access to mobile finance.
Lauren Le Franc
Owner of True Blue Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee

 

The entrepreneur has received notable awards, such as the Inspiring Innovator Award from a UK investment bank and The City University of London Green Spark Award.

“Winning these awards has not only given my business credibility … but also helps to build my network with and accelerate our goals for the year. I have worked hard to really test my business model, and winning these awards from such prestigious companies will enable us to offer the proper funding to help farmers,” she said.

Little Coffee Company’s main goal is to place emphasis on a digitised, monetised and transparent programme which will help small-holder farmers.

“By having a transparent supply chain model, this not only highlights the farmers for the work they do, but also gives them accessibility to direct trade, so they are able to get the price they deserve,” she said. “Up to 50 per cent of crop value vanishes between picking and point of sale.”

As Little Coffee Company assists farmers with its technological approach, Le Franc further explained that, “This digi-tech approach provides a platform that will connect everyone in agriculture by providing efficiency and trust to farmers.”

Recently, Little Coffee collaborated with farmers in Cameroon.

“As a small organic producer in Cameroon working in collaboration with The Little Coffee Company will help to improve my processes and selling my coffee at a fair price via a fair-trade channel so that I can secure a better price to all small producers in Cameroon,” shared Chief Daniel Kemdeng.

As Le Franc expands her work with other countries interested in the coffee trade, she is now in dialogue with one of the biggest mobile phone providers in Zimbabwe, which will assist with direct transactions to alleviate the hassle of the delays in payments and other setbacks to small farmers. She will also be working with the Geovation Hub which is a digital data lab, to help with her location data from farmers.

Le Franc encouraged young entrepreneurs to “do what you are passionate about”.

“It took me years of hard work within the coffee industry to get to where I am today. It’s rewarding when I get closer to my goals so I keep pushing forward,” she said.

Jamaica Diaspora Leadership Summit

Representatives of the Jamaican Diaspora Leadership in the United States of America (USA) will be holding a three-day Leadership Summit, in Morrow, Georgia, to focus on the development of the organisation’s US-based leadership and strengthen its remit to Jamaica. The event will take place at the Morrow Center in Morrow, Georgia, November 16-18.

“The main purpose of the Summit will be to formulate a cohesive Jamaican Diaspora Development Plan, which will rationalise the work of the Diaspora network across the USA,” said Wayne Golding, Southeast Diaspora Advisory Board Representative, who worked in concert with the two other Advisory Board Members, Dr. Rupert Francis (West/Mid-West) and Mrs. Akelia Lawrence-Maitland (Northeast), to design the underlying principles for the summit. “Therefore, our objective is to stimulate our USA-based network to become a structured entity, with focused leadership and a structured plan, to enhance our contributions to Jamaica,” Mr. Golding outlined. He also indicated that, “the Summit’s “Purpose Document” will focus on strengthening the organisation in the Diaspora, to mitigate fragmentation and bring together diverse leadership to implement a plan for growth and development.”

Dr. Rupert Francis noted, “after months of discussion, the leaders from the three Diaspora Advisory Groups in the USA accept that we were operating as individual responders and focusing on development in Jamaica, rather than consolidating our USA-based operations, to enable everyone to appreciate what we aim to achieve collectively, based on measurable, timed objectives.”

“I, therefore, welcome this summit,” Dr. Francis declared, “It will be a context in which our current and emerging leaders can meet and arrive at a consensus about the elements and timing of our plans, to better serve our mutual objectives.” He pointed out that the Atlanta Jamaica Association’s (AJA) Cultural and Education Fund is the official non-profit partner for the summit; and the organisation has the support of The Jamaica National Group, a legacy partner of the biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference and presenting sponsor for the summit.

Chief Executive Officer of The Jamaica National Group, Honourable Earl Jarrett,
commended the work of the Jamaican Diaspora network across the USA and pointed
out that, “strategic partnerships and alliances are critical going forward, hence, the need for individual Jamaican Diaspora groups to determine their respective missions, build capacity, and formulate an effective network to deliver specific projects.”

“We, therefore, look forward to the November summit, to be held in Morrow, Georgia; and encourage those of Jamaican heritage residing in the United States to participate,” Mr. Jarrett stated.
Individuals and entities wishing to participate are asked to visit https://jdusaleadershipsummit.eventbrite.com or email info@jdneusa.org

Environmental Arts Day

Written by Danielle Mullings

It was indeed a happy day at Happy House when New Wave and Do Good Jamaica collaborated to put on an Environmental Arts Day. Kids were fully entertained as they painted, drummed and sang the tune of environmental awareness.

The day started off with the head of New Wave, Lindsey Lodenquai welcoming the kids, asking each to introduce him or herself and state one reason that they love art.

“I love art because it’s fun!”

“I love art because it’s colourful”

“I love art because i get to paint’

The children then went outside to pick up three pieces of nature. Smiles and laughter erupted in the house as the children eagerly combined paint and glue with the sticks, rocks and leaves collected outside to make environmental masterpieces. Many walked around proudly with their pieces of art. Lindsey and Courtney of New Wave took the children outside for the dance segment. Each child added a move to create the overall dance piece and then took to the stage to perform their pieces.

The most loud and exciting segment had to be the musical performance. With the help of Ms. Jamaica Festival Queen 2018, Ackera Gowie and Rising Stars finalist, Diel the children delighted in creating their own environmental song. “I will protect the environment!” could be heard all around Happy House as the children sang at the top of their lungs. Diel taught the boys how to drum along to the tune while Ackera showed the girls how to shake the maracas they made.

Creative events like these make environmental awareness at the early childhood level a delight.

TVJ Climate Change Feature

Written by Danielle Mullings

Climate change has become a more pressing concern in the Caribbean and communities across Jamaica. One of our local television stations, TVJ has produced four features shedding light on the situation and the community response.

The features speak on the reality of climate change in the Caribbean evidenced by the coastal erosion of Hellshire and Hurricane Maria as well as the plans of community members in Manchester to use artificial reefs to decrease coastal erosion. The videos are below:

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