JIS News

KINGSTON — Cabinet has given the go ahead for the National Housing Policy and Implementation Plan to be tabled in the House as a Green Paper.

Making the disclosure at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, on June 22, Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz explained that the draft policy outlines a number of proposals intended to “chart the way out of the housing crisis."

“The policy covers all the key areas critical to the housing sector, such as making houses more affordable, squatting, social housing, treatment of settlements in hazardous areas, and the upgrading and updating of legislation,” the Minister explained.

Cabinet also approved the tabling of the Travel Agency Regulation Amendment Act (2011). “The amendment to the Act provides for increases in the penalties for offences; removes the continuing offence for operating an unregistered travel agency and allows the Minister to amend monetary penalties in the Act, by Order subject to affirmative resolution,” Mr. Vaz pointed out.

“Provisions are also included to increase the penalties that may be imposed in regulation made under the Act and the penalties for breaching any provisions of the regulations,” the Minister added.

He further informed that Cabinet approved drafting of legislation to amend the country’s defamation law, to address the inadequacies of the present outdated legislation. “The proposal seeks to implement, with changes where appropriate, the recommendations made in the report of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the reform of Jamaica’s defamation law,” he told journalists.

Meanwhile, Cabinet noted the quarterly report on crop production for January to March 2011, which outlined that even with challenges in the agricultural sector in 2010, such as drought and Tropical Storm Nicole, the sector recorded an increase of 24.4 per cent in crop production, which amounted to 147,378 tonnes.

“This is the highest quarterly production since the first quarter of 1999 when 159,118 tonnes were produced. Estimates indicate that the sector grew by approximately 14 per cent during the period under review,” Mr. Vaz noted.