Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, says Phase II of the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), will be significantly bigger and more impactful than its first phase.
Opening the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on June 19, Dr. Davies disclosed that government financing has been identified for funding of the second phase of the programme, in excess of $6 billion.
He noted that under the initiative, a number of projects will be implemented by several Ministries, including Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour and Social Security, Education; and Transport, Works and Housing.
Dr. Davies further informed that in addition to these projects, two collaborative efforts with the Food for the Poor will provide significant benefits for the nation’s poorest.
One such initiative, he informed, will see the construction of some 1,200 two-bedroom units for indigent and low-income households, approximately 20 per constituency. “Food for the Poor will be sharing the cost of providing these units. This will result in that organisation contributing goods and services to the tune of over $400 million,” he stated.
He also informed that the Government’s funding for this aspect of the programme will be provided by the PetroCaribe Fund.
The Housing Minister said that the project aims to significantly increase the provision of free housing units to poor households.
He noted that the beneficiaries will be drawn from the organisation’s existing list of applicants, as well as from persons recommended by political representatives, the Church and community groups.
In the meantime, Minister Davies pointed out that the second aspect of the housing programme will also see collaboration between Food for the Poor and the National Housing Trust (NHT).
He stated that through co-operation with Food for the Poor, the government will be constructing, through JEEP, 600 block and steel starter units in the first year, which will be affordable to low income earners.
“This affordability is facilitated by Government agencies, such as Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and NHT, utilising government-owned land, and in certain instances, lands which were already provided with the basic required infrastructure,” he informed.
Dr. Davies said the beneficiaries will all be drawn from the NHT’s list of contributors with incomes falling below the $7,500 per week line.
“We expect to have signed MOUs covering both housing initiatives by next week. This will allow for implementation to begin in July, leading to attainment of the targets for the fiscal year. The agreements will cover implementation of both projects over a five-year period,” he said.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter