JIS News

Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, has said that despite resource constraints, the provision of essential services would not be compromised and assured the trade unions that the agreement arrived at in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), concerning the protection of public sector jobs, would not be breached.
“All ministries have had to undertake a very careful management of their recurrent resources and in terms of the capital side of their budgets, ministries have to live within the limits that are determined by the Cabinet and provided for in the Budget,” he stated at yesterday’s (April 13) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
Making special reference to allocations for the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), the Information Minister mentioned that over the last several months, there had been discussions concerning the needs of those agencies and the Minister of Finance and Planning had indicated that he would be making some “financing arrangement” in terms of the acquisition of fire units and garbage compactors.
“That work is continuing and there are good prospects that the work will be brought to conclusion very shortly. But because of the nature of the financing it will not be reflected in the 2004/05 Estimates of capital expenditure,” Senator Whiteman informed. He said that the units should be available within the year.
He noted further, that there was “no cavalier rejection” of the notion that the fire service was important and every effort would be made to ensure that “we can deliver a service, which is adequate and does not comprise the essential safety of the country.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet in a release yesterday said:
– We are fully aware of the challenges facing us as a country in respect of fire prevention, responses to fires, rescue of persons and protection of property.
– We are taking all possible and reasonable steps to ensure that this critical service is not compromised. The matter is being urgently addressed and an early conclusion is expected.
– We will not reduce the level of service to be provided by the fire department and the NWSMA by taking any administrative action, which is inconsistent with the MOU between the government and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).
– We will support the rational and collective use of all available resources in all ministries and agencies to ensure that the country receives the best value for the use of our taxes.
– We will continue to work with community organizations and citizens in general to ensure that we protect life and property and pay particular attention to the safety of the most vulnerable – the very young, the infirm and the senior citizens.

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