Transport, Works and Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, said that Jamaica could benefit from upwards of US$1.5 billion in investments over the next three years, from the implementation of three projects, conceptualised by the previous administration.
While not outlining details of these, Dr. Davies hinted that they had the potential to generate additional employment to augment efforts through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
He was speaking at the launch of JEEP on March 22 at a ceremony held the Orchid Village Complex, Barbican Road, St. Andrew.
JEEP aims to create employment for thousands of Jamaicans, who will be engaged in various jobs across the island.
Dr. Davies, who has ministerial responsibility for JEEP, said that the current administration had “no difficulty” implementing ideas initiated by their predecessors, who have voiced their support for JEEP.
“In the same that you have given us full backing with the JEEP, I know you will give us full backing in implementing those projects. So, when you asked about what after (JEEP), there is more room for cooperation and collaboration for the good of Jamaica and I know we can count on you,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Dr. Davies informed that JEEP will be expanded to incorporate other ministries, as well as state agencies and agencies come the start of 2012/13 fiscal year, which begins in April.
“This launch signals the beginning, but there is more to come. The Ministry of Tourism will be fully integrated, the National Housing Trust (NHT) will be fully integrated, and there will be several other Ministries and Departments (that) will bring their JEEP projects on stream,” the Minister said.
Dr. Davies said all projects and activities implemented under JEEP will be characterised by fiscal responsibility. He advised that financing for the initiative has been thoroughly documented and is available for scrutiny, while assuring that “there (will be) no bursting of the budget”.
A total of $1.18 billion was approved by Parliament to execute projects earmarked for implementation under JEEP. The initiative, which underwent extensive scrutiny, was presented as a submission to Cabinet and discussed at that level. It was taken to the House of Representatives in February, where it was tabled as a Ministry Paper by Dr. Davies.
Thursday’s launch marked the start of the first phase, which will see approximately 5,000 persons being employed in various project island wide. These include road support infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance, including the cleaning of gullies and drains, and bushing of ‘A’ and ‘B’ main roads.
In addition, some 100 recruits will be trained at HEART Trust/National Training Agency academies, as part of an apprenticeship programme, leading to certification.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter