Taxi fare hike coming
Transport Minister Robert Montague gave the clearest signal on Thursday that the Government would hike taxi fares but declined to give a timeline on when that change might be ratified.
The declaration, however, appears to be an about-turn to his plea for patience because of the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has eroded incomes and haemorraged jobs.
“A fare adjustment is inevitable and is on the horizon, but I will have to continue discussions with the minister of finance and get back to you,” said Montague in a statement after receiving a formal application for a fare increase from the Route Taxi Association Alliance.
The coalition, comprising the Route Taxi Association of Jamaica, the National Council of Taxi Associations, and the Confederation of Independent Rural Taxi Associations, has requested an 80 per cent hike in fares.
Chamber slams Gov’t on travel discrimination
The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for the Government to end what it believes is discrimination against Jamaican business travellers compared to the treatment of their foreign counterparts arriving in the island.
Jamaican entrepreneurs were initially required to quarantine for 14 days under COVID-19 protocols, but that period was recently reduced to 10 days.
Foreigners are still required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction test within three days, after which they are free to go about their business.
“Many business operators have suffered for over a year. Some have locked shop, owing to the pandemic. Those whose operations have remained open and must travel are finding it extremely difficult to spend the extra days in their homes while their enterprises are at a standstill,” a statement issued by the chamber said on Thursday.
The business lobby lamented that the regime was especially hard on small businesses where the owner is both a manager and worker on the ground.
“We have members who have to push to carry out their return travel within 48 hours, and when they request to be tested at the airport, they are told they may not be considered because they are residents and are not entitled,” the chamber’s statement said.
US boosts funding for child trafficking fight
United States and Jamaican government officials and civil-society organisations convened for a virtual bilateral dialogue on June 9 to discuss progress and challenges under the United States-Jamaica Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership, signed in May 2018.
Discussions centred around the issues faced by participants and implementing partners over the last year and the objective of strengthening the Jamaican Government’s investigation, prosecution, and conviction of child traffickers.
The talks also focused on providing comprehensive trauma-informed care for child-trafficking victims.
The CPC, which was signed in May 2018, will conclude in June 2022.
Dr Kari Johnston, acting director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, announced that the US will provide an additional $1 million to implementing partner, the Warnath Group, to expand its activities in support of the partnership.
The Warnath Group will work closely with Jamaican government stakeholders to strengthen victim-centred law-enforcement efforts, including training and technical assistance to criminal-justice sector actors, and supporting the establishment of additional multidisciplinary, child-friendly spaces to interview and provide assistance to child victims.