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The government is to spend $100 million to address the social concerns of sugar workers.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller during her contribution to the 2007/08 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 1).
She said the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has engaged in consultations with trade union leaders and was in the process of developing a comprehensive programme to deal with training, health care, housing and other pressing social needs which affect sugar workers.
The Prime Minister said the $100 million was only the beginning, adding that a Sugar Unit was being established at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands to determine the social needs of the industry and how they could be addressed.
Mrs. Simpson Miller pointed out that the National Housing Trust (NHT) has earmarked $6 billion for sugar workers’ housing and that 1,891 lots have already been delivered to workers at New Yarmouth, Monymusk, Frome, Appleton, Bernard Lodge and Bellrock.
A further 819 lots are planned for delivery to workers at Stokes Hall, Long Pond and Hampden, she added. Under the programme, sugar workers have the option of purchasing one bedroom and studio units, or access a benefit under the National Housing Trust’s Build-On-Own Land programme.