• JIS News

    Cabinet has given its approval for $261 million to be allocated from the government’s Capital Development Fund to finance projects under the Bauxite Community Development Programme in communities that are affected by bauxite mining operations.
    Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman made this disclosure at a post-Cabinet press briefing held today (Dec. 20) at Jamaica House.
    He explained that the allocation would be spent in two phases, the first being for the period January to March next year.
    During the initial three month-period, the Information Minister said, “there will be $25 million spent on agriculture infrastructure, skills training, small business development, and a small provision for response by the local organisations to the felt needs of the communities.”
    In the meantime, the second phase of the Bauxite Community Development programme is slated to run from April 2006 to December 2009, and will involve expenditure of some $236 million.
    Projects that will be financed in bauxite communities for the three-year span will cover agriculture infrastructure, skills training and small business development. Additionally, funding agencies such as the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA) and other bodies involved in projected business development will also receive monetary support.
    Minister Whiteman told journalists that “in making this proposal to the Cabinet which was accepted, the Minister of Development, in collaboration with the Bauxite Institute looked at using this money, especially over the next three year period, for ensuring that . ‘there is life after bauxite'”.
    He emphasised that a primary objective of the Bauxite Community Development programme was “to ensure that there is some provision for the sustainable development of those [bauxite] communities when in a couple of decades it is expected that the bauxite reserves may have ended.”
    The programme was established in 1996, following a levy being placed on bauxite, which in turn, was channelled into the Capital Development Fund. The Fund’s purpose is to lend support by way of facilitating avenues for economic sustainability for the communities where bauxite companies are situated. Since 1996, an estimated $200 million has been spent on several projects.
    According to Minister Whiteman, the Fund ensures that the communities, “which are in a sense contributing so much to the revenues of the country and positively impacting on economic growth, receive some tangible benefits.”
    The Senator said to date, the benefits derived from the Fund, have been constructive.
    “As a result of the Bauxite Community Development programme the companies themselves have built relationships with community organisations, which have helped to monitor their progress, give advice, and therefore make the relations between the company and citizens that much better,” he noted.