No more cover-up – Private sector, Shaw call for greater accountability over dead babies

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William Mahfood (right), president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, listens to Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association.

Two of the country’s leading private-sector organisations are demand-ing greater accountability for the tragic deaths of 19 premature babies, after they were infected during a bacterial outbreak at two of Jamaica’s major public hospitals.

Both the Jamaica Manu-facturers’ Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) issued calls yesterday for the Office of the Prime Minister to make the responsible parties pay for the egregious circumstances that resulted in four outbreaks of the klebsiella and serratia bacteria at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Cornwall Regional Hospital over a five-month period.

Since June, 42 premature babies have been infected from the outbreaks, resulting in the deaths of 12 babies at UHWI and seven at Cornwall Regional.

Calling for transparency in addressing the outbreak, PSOJ President William Mahfood told The Gleaner: “We need, as a country, to ask … why and who are responsible, and whoever those people are, they need to be held accountable.”

Added Mahfood: “The time has come for us to stop pushing things under the carpet and to ensure that accountability and proper governance is the order of the day for us going forward.”

In a statement, Metry Seaga, president of the JMA, said he was deeply concerned over the lack of transparency and accountability of the competent authorities’ handling of the situation.

“The JMA is concerned at the handling of the matter now being aired publicly of the deaths of 19 babies between June and November this year, while in the care of public hospitals, by two bacterial infections,” Seaga said.

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson has denied knowledge of the outbreaks before the matter was made public on October 16 and has resisted calls to resign.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has indicated that she will not remove him.

Chief medical officer in the health ministry, Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse, has also indicated she has no intention of stepping down, although she has come under pressure for her late response to information sent to her on the outbreaks. It was revealed that she was informed of the outbreak on September 7.

Dr Cecil White, chief executive officer at UHWI, and Professor Trevor McCartney, medical chief of staff, both resigned after the hospital issued a statement on the scandal that has dominated conversation across the country in recent few weeks.

Described as “one-line letters of resignation that offered no reason”, McCartney’s resignation took effect on October 31, while White was initially to demit office on January 31 next year.

White and McCartney, along with Sterling Soares, chairman of the board at UHWI, have been subpoenaed by the Office of the Public Defender to answer to the charges.

Calls continue to come in from various quarters for more heads to roll at the health ministry, as well as the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

AUDIT FINDINGS KEPT SECRET

On the weekend, Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw accused Ferguson of dishonesty, stating: “On the day the audit team arrived at Cornwall Regional Hospital, there was an infection outbreak in the neonatal unit … . Dr Ferguson has lied to the people of Jamaica that October 16 was the first they heard of it … . The question is, ‘What action they took?’ … No action was taken!”

Shaw, who was addressing a Jamaica Labour Party mass rally in May Pen, Clarendon, was making reference to a reportedly leaked copy of the Audit Report of the Regional Health Authorities done by the Ministry of Health, which the ministry has refused to make public.

Shaw said the health ministry received the audit report in August.

Seaga called for the prime minister “to insist on the immediate release of the full audit to the public and that the necessary persons are held accountable for this tragedy, where applicable”.

He continued: “We find it egregious that the minister has ordered an audit and has chosen not to release it to the public, especially in light of the circumstances coming to the fore now.

After outcry from both health-care workers and the general public in May, Ferguson had directed the four regional health authorities to conduct a comprehensive audit of their operations.

Following the release of a summary of the report on September 2, The Gleaner had requested a full copy under the Access to Information Act. However, a response from the health ministry yesterday stated that the request had been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

‘STILL BEINGREVIEWED’

“We have been advised by the Attorney General’s Chambers that the matter is still being reviewed,” the ministry said.

“We note that the period of extension is to expire November 2, 2015 and apologise for the unavoidable delay being experienced. Should you wish to take the matter further, please avail yourself of the provisions of Part V of the Access to Information Act. Nonetheless, you will be updated as soon as we are in receipt of a response from the Attorney General’s Chambers.”

The ministry has said it chose not to release the full report because it did not want the public to have negative views of the implicated public-health facilities.

“We would not want to specifically give you the names of the hospitals. We don’t want to tell you which particular hospital has which shortage. It’s really not the best thing to do. I don’t think this is good to put those out in the public space at this time,” Dr Kevin Harvey, permanent secretary in the health ministry, said at the time.

Last night, Soares announced that Kevin Allen, senior director of finance at the hospital, has been appointed to act as chief executive officer, and that White had moved up his departure date as the board felt it was in the hospital’s best interest to appoint someone to act immediately.

In addition, Soares said the board has decided to appoint Dr Carl Bruce, consultant neurosurgeon, to act as senior director, clinical services, in the wake of McCartney’s resignation.

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Captain could – be in trouble

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JFF President Horace Burrell (left) and Orville Powell

Captain Horace Burrell has been President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) for an accumulated 17 years.

Jamaica’s football accomplishments under the captain’s stewardship have been many and varied, headlined by the historic qualification of the Reggae Boyz for the senior World Cup Finals in France, 1998. Add to that the Under-17 team qualifying in 1999 the Under-20s in 2001 the Under-17s again in 2011, and throw into the mix some six Caribbean Cup titles.

By any stretch of the imagination, the captain has been the best and most successful leader of Jamaica’s football. Not only did his vision and forthright leadership change the reality of the local game, Captain’s work also changed the perception that Jamaicans had of their national football team in an unimaginable and positive way that has persisted to this day.

During his tenure as JFF president, Captain Burrell has gathered vast experience in the intricate nuances of managing the affairs of the nation’s most popular sport. Add to that political savvy, garnered along the way in holding on to that coveted position for the better part of two decades.

intimidating reality

That is a mere fraction of the intimidating reality that must have cost Mr Orville Powell many sleepless nights, before he decided to throw his hat into the race for the top leadership position of the most high-profile job in Jamaican sport.

Mr Powell deserves great kudos for, at least, conjuring the cojones to do what many before him in a sometimes fractious local football fraternity have all failed to do.

Having had private conversations with key members of the local football fraternity in recent times, almost in a chorus the call is to see the Captain ousted, with the most popular cry being for a more equitable distribution of the “football spoils”.

My response remained consistent throughout, get an alternative candidate, take the message to the delegates and mount the challenge.

Until the recent emergence of Mr Powell, the barks have been all louder than the bites. The Montego Bay United Football Club president spoke stridently and passionately and was, for the most part, on point with the issues raised – the lack of transparency and accountability, as well as the spiraling debt of the federation.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

He spared no punches in raising the longstanding issue of the perceived conflict of interest in the scenario where the company owned by the president of the federation sponsors numerous parish associations, with the votes of the representatives of those same parish associations set to decide his fate as president.

These were but some of the poignant points raised by Powell, which resonates loudly with all concerned with the sport locally.

The word on the ground is that Mr. Powell’s biggest challenge will be to secure, in short order, four of the 15 available votes – to get the nomination to challenge for the presidency. The talk is, if Orville Powell gets the nomination, Captain Burrell will be in trouble.

There is no doubt that the Captain is a veteran and wily campaigner, who, after suffering that bitter ousting by Crentson Boxhill in 2003, will not want to experience that feeling again, and will spare no punches in protecting his turf.

On the other hand, the demise of Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, Jeff Webb and the imminent fall of former FIFA boss, Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, represents the loss of some big trump cards for Captain.

The question is, will the wind of change sweeping across the sport internationally have enough momentum to sweep Captain out of power and sweep Orville Powell in the opposite direction, and into that now famous office that runs the nation’s most popular sport?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I am just about taking my seat in the stands, waiting for sound of the referee’s whistle, which should be heard loud and clear on nomination day, Thursday, November 5.

Let the games begin.

US firm to develop biodiesel plant in Jamaica

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Emily Bockian Landsburg (second left), managing partner at Blue Hill Services, and Glen Garth (left), executive vice-president of Garth Solutions, speak with Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton (centre), JAMPRO President Diane Edwards and Claude Duncan, JAMPRO’s vice-president of investment promotion, at JAMPRO’s head office in St Andrew earlier this year.

One of the largest biodiesel producers in the United States (US), HERO BX, has been exploring the possibility of developing Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant on the island.

The firm’s representatives have been visiting Jamaica since JAMPRO’s Jamaica Investment Forum earlier this year, and have been meeting with various government and private-sector stakeholders with serious interest in confirming the project.

The plant would be a boost for Jamaica’s renewable-energy programme and would have a multi-industry impact, as biodiesel uses feedstock such as waste oils from the hospitality industry and plant feedstock from the agricultural industry.

The investment is expected to be a significant source of employment, as well as to enable the Government to benefit from the sale of biodiesel produced in Jamaica, which would operate as the hub of HERO BX’s Caribbean operations.

“This robust investment climate and investment in a variety of sectors in the economy is the result of work across government to improve the business environment, facilitate economic growth and create opportunities for job creation,” said Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton.

Hylton said Jamaica has been receiving more investment interest because of steps being taken by the Government to improve Jamaica’s economy and business environment.

PULL FACTORS

Jamaica-born Glen Garth, executive vice-president of US consulting firm Garth Solutions Inc, which is representing HERO BX, said Jamaica has received top billing for the development of the plant because of the country’s strategic location, among other factors.

“The location of Jamaica strategically in the Caribbean Basin; the access to a quality, educated labour force; the access to all of the benefits that are available due to commitments made by the Jamaican Government to encourage foreign direct investment are all factors. Those attributes are what first attracted our attention and have further strengthened our interest in sitting a biodiesel hub in Jamaica,” said Garth.

He added that the country’s strong national-energy policy and renewable energy subpolicy were seen as favourable and increased the company’s interest in Jamaica.

According HERO BX’s company profile, its “50-million-gallon-per-year-capacity plant produces fuel from multiple raw materials and has achieved the highest quality accreditation available”.

The profile continued: “HERO BX enjoys a reputation for quality and its commitment to the environment, community and safety. The company is investigating expanding into the Caribbean region, as the growing global renewable energy market is estimated to grow to US$614.92 billion by the end of 2015.”

JAMPRO President Diane Edwards said she was pleased that the country’s strides to promote its renewable-energy strategy have been bearing fruit.

She said following on the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce’s mandate, the agency has been campaigning for more investments in newer sectors to diversify Jamaica’s economy.

“We are seeing more interest in sectors such as energy and technology as the Government makes moves to improve the business atmosphere and the country’s readiness for investments. JAMPRO will monitor the progress of this and other projects closely as we try to bring more significant, sustainable investments to Jamaica,” she said.

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Football family falling apart

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Blatter (left) and Warner

In the not-so-distant past, FIFA, its six confederations, including CONCACAF, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), the parish associations, clubs, and even school associations were quick to call their football organisations a family.

They preached it day and night, “We are a family, no matter how much we fight internally”.

FIFA is wealthier than 75 percent of the countries in the world. Its president, Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, is afforded more respect that most heads of state. He lives and travels in grandeur. He has friendships with kings and some of the most respected humans on the planet.

He was once listed at number 70 among the most powerful men in the world, alongside US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, by Forbes’ Ranking.

He surrounds himself with vice-presidents who run things in their confederations, except Europe (well, not true anymore; we were just led to believe that). It now appears that Michel Platini was always on Blatter’s side. He was used to get rid of the Swede, Lennart Johansson, now 85 years old, the man who ran against Sepp Blatter twice and was Blatter’s biggest rival until Platini ousted him in Europe in 2007, eight years ago.

Platini still cannot explain satisfactorily to FIFA’s Ethics committee how he got paid over US$1.3m, nine years after he did work for FIFA. Neither can Blatter.

Well, Bleachers Report can state that eight years ago, he won the European presidency, and Blatter has had no challenge from within Europe since.

Back to CONCACAF.

Austin ‘Jack’ Warner ruled with an iron fist and foot. Under Jack, even the mighty US Soccer had to vote for Sepp Blatter every time. Jack delivered the votes en bloc from CONCACAF. A total of 41 (20%) votes out of 209 ballots is nothing to scoff at and, as you know, Jack was not only the CFU/CONCACAF boss.

Jack chose his own vice-

presidents in CFU and CONCACAF. If anyone else got themselves nominated, Jack just made it known that you could not run against his ‘Anointed’ without backlash, and he would force the ‘upstart’ to back down or feel his wrath.

all powerful

Jack was all powerful. He bought the Caribbean World Cup television rights for US$600,000 from FIFA and sold it for US$20m to a Jamaican media company. This is now being investigated.

At the CONCACAF and CFU annual general meetings, financial statements are scarce commodity, and no one dares to ask any question.

Jack’s general secretary, Chuck Blazer, lived like a king in New York’s Trump Plaza, renting two flats, one for his cats.

This skinny soccer dad of 35 years ago grew to a 450lb man. Life was good in FIFA.

Jack’s successor as CONCACAF boss, Jeffrey Webb, was already chairman of the FIFA finance committee at less than age 40 (very impressive). He became a FIFA vice-president before age 50, and even Bleachers Report liked him at first as we had compared him to Jack.

All these powerful men then went from being powerful, as, once their actions came under scrutiny, they began to fall like ninepins.

At a CFU meeting in 2011, the heads of some CFU affiliates in the Caribbean were filmed taking bribes of US$40,000. They even signed for the money.

Jack resigned from his FIFA vice-president position in 2011 to avoid a trial by FIFA’s ethics committee.

Blazer met his demise a couple years later, and fast forward to today, Blatter and Platini have been suspended for 90 days; Webb is wearing a monitoring anklet after taking up bail of $10m in the United States; Jack is awaiting extradition from Trinidad and Tobago to the US to answer fraud and money laundering charges; Blazer’s affidavit was signed and lodged with US authorities. He has already named 40 co-conspirators, and the description of the co-conspirators are very familiar to other football officials that Bleachers Report has come in contact with over the years, while another six FIFA officials are in Swiss jails fighting extradition to the United States.

Presidential hopeful Chung Mong-Joon got a six-year ban for actions while lobbying for South Korea to host the 2022 World Cup; FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke was suspended for 90 days over ticket sales; and Frank Beckenbauer is in problems, admitting that the German Football Association made a mistake by paying over money to FIFA, which may have been used for a bribe.

Bleachers Report agrees that FIFA is one big family and, at one time, all football administrators’ only ambition was to be a member of that family.

Captain Horace Burrell missed no opportunity to remind all and sundry that he is part of the inner workings, and he is the man for the job in Jamaica, as he has political clout and his relationship with the FIFA hierarchy is unbreakable.

Well, Captain Burrell, information garnered by Bleachers Report is that you will not be elected at the next go-around as a vice-president of CONCACAF, as not even the presidents in the CFU will support you or anyone close to the FIFA ‘family’.

Daddy Sepp is gone from FIFA forever; Uncle Jack is going to the United States, whether he likes it or not; Cousin Jeffery will soon return to court in the US later this year; and Stepfather Blazer has confessed to his crimes.

All FIFA’s bridges are falling down; brothers, sisters, grandfather, son (Jack’s sons have already confessed to their sins) will soon be going to the US or Switzerland. The Swiss and US authorities have said the scandal uncovered so far is at the tip of the iceberg.

Captain, where is your political clout now?

And here comes Montego Bay’s Orville Powell to challenge for the title. Next week BR will look at that challenge.

OAS wants region to copy Jamaica's campaign-finance bill

Jermaine Barnaby
Luis Almagro Lemes, secretary general of the Organization of American States.

Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro Lemes, is welcoming the tabling of a campaign-finance bill in Jamaica’s Parliament and has expressed the hope that other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will adopt similar legislation.

Arguing that a campaign-finance regime is “essential and very necessary”, Almagro said that the absence of such a framework exposes governments to significant weaknesses, chief among them being the influence of dirty money.

Last Tuesday, the Government tabled a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to amend the Representation of the People Act, reforming Jamaica’s electoral campaign financing, out of the need to bolster the transparency and accountability of elected officials and to reduce corruption and improper influence in public life.

“It is a way to end any kind of corruption that may exist … . It is a way to end all weakness that political parties may have when they reach power,” Almagro said.

“In fact, it may end all nasty influences … in the future. When you pass a law like this, I expect that has to be according to maximum standards, and without double standards in order to keep the threat from democracy,” he added.

DIRTY-MONEY THREAT

The OAS secretary general, who is in Jamaica for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the University of the West Indies, Mona, to promote governance education, said dirty money poses a threat to democracy.

“I think what Jamaica is doing is a very substantial step that … other Latin American and Caribbean countries will have to replicate in the near future,” the OAS secretary general said.

“Jamaica is a reference in the Caribbean, and so when we do things here and we work to strengthen democracy in Jamaica, it has a mirror effect on some other countries,” he added.

Under the proposed law, registered political parties and candidates for elections will have to report to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica donations and contributions of J$250,000 or more.

The bill also proposes that no political party can spend more than $630 million for all 63 constituencies and that no individual candidate can spend more than $10 million.

Additionally, it states that no individual contributor can contribute more than $1 million to an individual candidate and, based on a formula, no individual contributor can contribute more than $31.5 million to a particular party.

Almagro said the OAS believes it is important to keep track of the changes in political systems and to make sure that the political system finds solutions for the people.

He argued that without campaign-finance reform, there is the possibility that democracy can be captured by people of unsavoury character.

“It is the main problem that we have this day in the continent. Narco traffic and organised crime are very close to politics these days, and it (campaign-financing law) is a way to keep that money out of the political system, and that is very necessary to work every single issue that you have to work after that,” Almagro said.

Jamaica’s campaign-finance bill proposes making it illegal to accept campaign contributions from any person or entity whose existence is, or activities are, illegal under any law.

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The skeletal system

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The skeletal system

The human skeleton is composed of 206 bones. The skeleton is the framework of the body, without it the body would be shapeless. The bones are shaped according to their function.

Bones may be:

n Long, as in the arm and legs.

n Flat, as the sternum and scapula.

n Short as in the ankles and wrist.

n Irregular, as in the vertebrae.

n Round, as in the patellae.

The bones of the arms, legs, shoulders and pelvis make up the appendicular skeleton.

The bones of the skull and face and the auditory ossicle, vertebrae, ribs and sternum, make up the axial skeleton.

FUNCTIONSOFBONES

There are five principal functions of bones.

n Support the body, enabling you to stand erect.

n Protect the internal organ and tissues.

n Assist movement by coordination with muscles and joints.

n Provide storage areas for minerals.

n Serve as sites for formation and development of blood cells in the bone marrow (haematopoiesis).

BONEGROWTH

Bones develop in the growing foetus through a process called ossification. The skeleton is completely formed by the end of the third month of gestation (pregnancy). After birth, bone growth proceeds from the epiphyseal plates (growth plates). Growth proceeds from the end towards the centre of the bone. When the bone has reached its full size and growth ceases the epiphyseal growth centres are replaced by bone cells.

Longitudinal (length) bone growth and ossification usually continue in girls until about age 15 and age 16 in boys.

However, bones continue to mature and develop their final shape until about 21 years of age.

The whole growth process is controlled by hormones. If there is too much growth hormones the cartridge in the plates grows too fast and results in gigantism, while too little hormone leads to dwarfism.

Bone formation and resorption are caused by the actions of osteoblasts and osteoclast. Osteoblast make new bones and at the same time cells called osteoclast break it down. Exercise causes osteoblast to work harder. But, extreme training, especially with weights at young age, can result in problem with bone deformity.

Bones get more fragile as you age and can get weak and break easily (osteoporosis), especially in women.

NUTRIENTSAND

BONEGROWTH

The most important nutrients for growth are:

n Proteins – build cells and repair damaged tissues. Found in milk, cheese, eggs, fish, pulses and nuts.

n Vitamins – Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and is found in milk, fish, liver and eggs. The body also makes it with sunshine.

n Minerals – calcium which gives strong bones and teeth and is found in milk, cheese fish and green vegetables.

JOINTS

A joint is where two or more bones meet (articulate). There are more than 100 joints in the body. Joints are divided into three types based on the amount of movement they allow.

n Fixed or immovable joints (fibrous):

In these, bones are fused together by tough fibres. These types of joints are found in areas requiring strength. Examples are the joints between the plates of the cranium (skull) and the fused joints in the sacrum.

n Slightly movable joints (cartilaginous):

In these, a small amount of movement can occur. The bones are linked by cartilage. Cartilage is a tough but flexible cushion of tissue that stops the bones from knocking together (friction) and can also compress a little to allow slight movement. Slightly movable joints are found between most of the vertebrae in the vertebral column and the joint between the ribs and sternum.

n Freely movable joints (synovial):

All freely movable joints share features which prevents friction between moving bones. One of the main features is the presence of synovial fluid between the moving bones. The bones are held together by slightly elastic fibres called ligaments, which allows the bones to move; any damage to the ligament results in the joint losing some of its strength and stability.

Joints work smoothly together when we perform sporting activities. They must be capable of their full range of movement in order to work well. The demands of sport put severe stress on joints. Therefore, it is essential to warm-up before an activity and cool down after the activity.

Joints can be injured as a result of impact, internal forces or a mixture of both. Examples sprains, torn ligament and dislocation.

(More next week on the skeletal system).

Arnett and MoBay Clash in #MNF

Reigning champions Arnett Gardens and leaders Montego Bay United will clash in a repeat of last season’s final of the Red Stripe Premier League, at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

Kick-off time is 8:40 tonight.

Arnett’s coach, Jerome Waite, says it will be a feisty encounter.

Waite says losing is not an option.

In yesterday’s results, Kevaughn Frater scored a hat trick in Harbour View’s 3-0 win over Portmore United.

Humble Lion edged Cavalier 1-0, UWI and Reno drew 2-2, Tivoli Gardens beat Rivoli 1-0, and Boys Town beat Waterhouse 1-0.

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Incubator transport guidelines clear – Soares

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Describing it as “quite alarming”, chairman of the board of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Sterling Soares, said yesterday he did not know what to make of reports in the media showing a photograph of a flatbed truck supposedly transporting baby incubators and other related equipment in the direction of the hospital recently.

In a statement from the UHWI last night, Soares said that following the publication of the photograph in both national newspapers, he requested a report on when the last set of such equipment was delivered to the hospital.

The UHWI said Soares was advised that “a delivery was made on September 18, 2015, as a donation from the University of the West Indies, through PROMAC”.

The UHWI said: “The donation consisted of infant warmers and carriers, phototherapy lamps, along with a recovery bed and stretcher, and that these items were delivered by Medical Link. After being removed from their boxes, the equipment was assembled in the Annex on Ward 11, sanitised and commissioned and sent to the respective areas of use … . In light of the records of the hospital, [Soares] did not know what to make of the photographs supplied to both newspapers.”

Parliamentarian Daryl Vaz had supplied the photograph to the media, questioning the transportation method for incubators.

The Sunday Gleaner reported that “a truck was seen in Liguanea, St Andrew, last Friday heading in the direction of the UHWI with three incubators fully exposed to the elements”.

In the statement, Soares said the hospital’s guidelines, with respect to acquiring health-care equipment, are quite clear. He said they are ordered from overseas and are delivered from the wharf in either crates or boxes, assembled within the hospital by engineers, who demonstrate proper care to the hospital’s technicians, including how to clean and sanitise the units.

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Neutral! – Professional groups deny backing any Caymanas bid

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HEADS of three professional associations at Caymanas Park – the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association, Jamaica Jockeys Guild and Grooms Association of Jamaica – issued a joint press release on Saturday, distancing their organisations from “putting support behind particular bidders” in the Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) divestment process under way.

The associations, however, pointed out that they were “totally against” any proposed sale involving any of Caymanas Park’s 196 acres on which the horse-racing plant operates in Portmore, St Catherine.

Presidents Vincent Edwards, AndrÈ Martin and Fabian White of the trainers, jockeys and grooms bodies, respectively, signed the release, which stated: “Amid rumours that various associations at the track are putting support behind particular bidders, we would like to state, categorically, that, at this point in time, the associations noted below are neutral and not formally, or informally, endorsing any of the two bidders nor are we condemning any.

“We do, however, wish to state that we are totally against any offer in relation to this divestment that involves the

sale of any part of parcel of Caymanas Track Limited land,” the release added.

The Gleaner sources claim the issue of CTL lands in the request for proposals has three options, namely an outright sale of the property with a guarantee that a specific acreage be retained for horse racing.

The second option, sources claim, is for a long-term lease, including development of the Caymanas Park lands. The third is a similar long-term lease as the second, but with a provision to build a new racetrack within a four-mile radius.

The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is in receipt of bids from two entities expressing an interest in acquiring state-run horse-racing promoting company CTL.

The bids were received from Caymanas Racing and Entertainment Limited and Supreme Ventures Limited, following the bid opening exercise at DBJ, on Friday, September 18.

Caymanas Racing and Entertainment Limited comprises a number of stakeholders at Caymanas Park, including noted horsemen and investors Michael Bernard, Richard Lake and trainer Richard Azan.

The DBJ and Caymanas Track Limited Enterprise Team (CTLET) are overseeing the privatisation process on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

It is anticipated that the evaluation will be completed by early this month, after which the preferred bidder will be recommended by CTLET to the Ministry of Finance and Planning and to Cabinet for approval.

The CTL privatisation opportunity was advertised by DBJ from May. The bid-submission deadline was extended twice, from July 10 to August 28, and, subsequently, September 18, to accommodate due diligence of the prospective investors.

This marks the second time in a little over a decade that the Government has invited bids for the divestment of Caymanas Park. Two bids were approved in 2004. Caymanas Entertainment Limited was named the preferred bidder.

However, final approval was subsequently denied by the Government following lengthy deliberations and due diligence.

CCJ Best Route to Appealing Buggery Law

Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding, says if the three Bills to entrench the Caribbean Court of Justice in the Jamaican constitution fail to pass in the upper house of parliament, the issue may be put to a referendum.

The Justice Minister made the comments on Sunday, while answering questions at a CCJ forum held at the Vineyard Town Methodist Church.

Minister Golding also noted that it’s only a matter of time before a challenge to the island’s buggery law is filed in the Constitutional Court.

He says that if the matter is taken beyond the Constitutional Court, it would make sense for a body such as the CCJ to make a final ruling.

Minister Golding says those who are resisting the CCJ but want to retain the buggery law better be careful what they wish for.

He says UK based Privy Council has already showed its hand where the right of persons to live in same sex unions is concerned.

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