JIS News

Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman has said that the government’s allocation of $1.3 billion to repair flood-damaged roads, gullies and bridges was only intended to cover priority works that would enable the business of the country to proceed.
The Minister, who was speaking yesterday (December 20), at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, said major rehabilitation would follow, but the initial sum was intended to ensure that there was some access to damaged roads, that main corridors are cleared, and bridges repaired.
A team operating out of the Ministry of Transport and Works has been assigned to co-ordinate the repair to infrastructure damaged by Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Emily. Included are representatives from the Ministries of Local Government, Community Development and Sport; Finance and Planning; Land and Environment; Development; and Agriculture.
“We want to ensure that all the critical work that must be done in the first period is covered, hence the collective and co-ordinated approach,” the Minister said.
Senator Whiteman indicated that the allocated $1.3 billion would only cover the period January 1 to March 31, 2006 and was in addition to $1.25 billion, which was allocated between September and December of this year.
He informed that $300 million of the new allocation would be spent by the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport.
This decision follows recent petitions from Mayors and Councillors calling for increased funds to carry out repairs to roads under their jurisdiction.
Senator Whiteman said Mayors needed to understand the State’s fiscal limitations and the need to effect a holistic response to the damage wrought islandwide by the natural disasters.
“They have asked for a sum far in excess of the total amount for the entire island, including roads which are not part of the Mayors’ remit or responsibility.and what we want to indicate to the public, as we certainly would wish them to understand, is that there is a limit on what is available,” he explained.
“It must be understood that this $1.3 billion and the $300 million included in the sum for Local Government, does not include any other sums which may already be available to parish councils or which they may access by the parochial fund between now and March 31,” the Minister stressed.