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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05KINGSTON2784
2005-12-23 19:29:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kingston
Cable title:  

KINGSTON POL/ECON ROUNDUP: DECEMBER 10 - DECEMBER

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  EFIN  ECON  EINV  PHUM  ELAB  KHIV  JM 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINGSTON 002784 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (BENT) AND WHA/PDA
STATE ALSO FOR INL/LP (BOZZOLO), EB/TPP, AND EB/IFD
STATE ALSO DOE CA/OCS/ACS/WHA (RUTH BRANSON)
STATE PASS OPIC FOR TABERNAKI
CUSTOMS MIAMI FOR LOWEN AND MAHABIR
SANTO DOMINGO FOR FCS, FAS, AND LEGATT
STATE PASS USTR FOR A. GASH-DURKIN
DOJ FOR OPDAT/R LIPMAN
TREASURY FOR LAMONICA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EFIN ECON EINV PHUM ELAB KHIV JM
SUBJECT: KINGSTON POL/ECON ROUNDUP: DECEMBER 10 - DECEMBER
23, 2005

Ref: A. KINGSTON 02728



1. This week's topics:

-- Police Officers on Trial for Murder
-- Telecommunications Company Goes Belly-up
-- Electricity Thieves Cost Power Company
-- Cricket World Cup
-- Bauxite Industry Labor Issues
-- Weak Christmas Retail Season
-- Egg Farmers Seek Duty Protection
-- Economic Deprivation Causes Crime
-- Crime Statistics


--------------------------


Police Officers on Trial for Murder


--------------------------





2. Six members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF)
disbanded Crime Management Unit, including Senior
Superintendent Reneto Adams, were charged in connection with
the killing of four people at a home in Crawle, Clarendon
(Ref A). On December 12, the judge found that the
prosecution failed to make a prima facie case against three
of the officers and ordered the jury to free them. On
December 20, the jury found the remaining three officers not
guilty. It is anticipated that the officers could be back
at their jobs in early 2006.




--------------------------


Telecommunications Company Goes Belly-up


--------------------------





3. Just when the GOJ thought the information technology
nightmare of 2002 was over, news has emerged that another
company has failed. Between 2000 and 2002 the GOJ loaned
billions of Jamaican dollars to information technology (IT)
companies to increase employment. The amount of money a
company was allowed to borrow was directly related to the
number of Jamaicans that company employed. However, by 2001
some companies began to fold, ending with the high profile
collapse of NetServ in 2002. In late 2002, Touchpoint
Centres International Jamaica Ltd bought the assets of
NetServ for JMD 240 million (USD 3.8 million). However,
after losing its major client in September, Touchpoint laid
off 200 workers and closed its operations. The GOJ has
appointed a receiver to oversee the sale of the companies'
assets to interested parties.



--------------------------


Electricity Thieves Cost Power Company


--------------------------





4. The Mirant-owned Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has
reported that electricity thieves have cost the company more
that JMD 1 billion (USD 15.6 million) in revenues this year
alone. The company also reported that contrary to popular
belief, the theft is not limited to inner-city communities,
where the service is referred to as "social electricity."
Company estimates also suggest that up to one third of the
half a million customers engage in some form of irregularity

such as meter tampering. In an effort to stem the problem,
JPS has started measuring and mapping losses, with
preliminary results showing that commercial customers are
the main culprits. The company also plans to use covered
conductors and other measures, which will make it more
difficult for persons to connect and maintain illegal lines.



--------------------------


Cricket World Cup


--------------------------





5. With just 443 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of
the 2007 Cricket World Cup, organizers still have much to
do, and officials involved with preparations have hinted
that some in the GOJ are "overconfident," and "lack a sense
of urgency." GOJ success in staging other, much smaller
events, such as the 2002 World Youth Athletic Games and the
2004 World Netball Games, have created a false optimism.
Although it appears likely that the Jamaican venues will be
completed ahead of the regional tournament, serious issues
including travel and visa requirements, border security,
event security, and infrastructure, still have yet to be
adequately addressed. Tickets for the event are scheduled
to go on sale in January 2006.



--------------------------


Bauxite Industry Labor Issues


--------------------------




6. Workers at the West Indies Aluminum Company (Windalco) in
Manchester returned to work yesterday after an agreement was
reached regarding their action protesting cuts into their
"productivity incentive." Details of the agreement have not
yet been released. The Union of Technical, Administrative &
Supervisory Personnel (UTASP) served a strike notice on
Jamalco on behalf of 150 workers. The dispute involves
overtime compensation for supervisory and clerical workers.
The notice takes effect next Monday, December 26, at 9:00
pm. UTASP issued an additional notice on behalf of 250
contracted workers (for whom the union is seeking bargaining
rights) who will not break the picket lines if there is a
strike by the UTASP-represented employees.



--------------------------


Weak Christmas Retail Season


--------------------------





7. Retailers are predicting that this year's Christmas
shopping season could be the weakest in several years. They
blame the slipping Jamaican dollar, the increase in the
General Consumption Tax this year to 16.5%, and across-the-
board price increases in everything from petrol to school
fees. The hope is that the GOJ's provision of Christmas
bonuses will spur a last-minute rush to save the season, but
it seems clear that spending levels will not match last
year.




--------------------------


Egg Farmers Seek Duty Protection


--------------------------





8. Under presumed threat to the domestic egg industry,
poultry farmers have chided the GOJ for its continued
approval of imports of eggs, particularly liquefied egg
products. The industry, which produced approximately 10.58
million dozen fresh eggs valued at JMD 947 million (USD 14.8
million), is a significant source of income for rural
households along the South Central coast. Globally, Jamaica
is the fifth (5th) largest market for U.S. exports of eggs
and related products, amounting to USD 12 million (4.3
million Kgs.) per year. Egg farmers expect the GOJ to
incorporate table eggs and related products under the
existing 260 percent duty protection that is imposed on
poultry.




--------------------------


Economic Deprivation Causes Crime


--------------------------





9. A new study published by the Planning Institute of
Jamaica on "Women in Prison" has cited economic deprivation
as the main reason (85.7 percent) for the incarceration of
females. The study showed that 86 percent of the inmates
were incarcerated for drug offences and came from poor
communities, living in poor households, which are generally
headed by a single female. Conditions in the prison were
rated negatively by 94 percent of the inmates, who cited
clothing, health and meals as being poor. The study also
focused on the impact of incarceration on the children of
inmates. For the most part, children revealed high levels of
depression, embarrassment, shame, anger, maltreatment by
some caregivers and deterioration in school grades.



--------------------------


Crime Statistics


--------------------------





10. Based on statistics provided by the Jamaica
Constabulary Force (JCF), the country experienced 1,617
murders between January 1 and December 22, 2005. The
previous record for murders reported in Jamaica was 1,469 in


2004.

TIGHE
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