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The government of Jamaica (GoJ) has secured a US$650,000 grant from the Japanese Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD) fund, to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of the Inner City Basic Services for the Poor project.
At the signing ceremony held at his National Heroes Circle office in Kingston today (March 26) Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies, explained that the funds from Japan would be used to carry out diagnostic studies and assessment of communities selected for the project and undertake baseline surveys of households in the projects areas.
The funds will also go towards preparing basic infrastructure and pubic safety enhancement plans for each project area; prepare bidding document for planned infrastructure investments; undertake activities associated with environmental and social safeguard compliance and prepare an operational manual and implementation plan.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) will carry out the feasibility study, which will begin shortly and be completed by November.
“We are indeed indebted to the Japanese government, as your assistance has proved invaluable to Jamaica’s development,” Dr. Davies said in his remarks.
Announced by Prime Minister P. J. Patterson during his contribution to the 2005/06 Budget Debate last month, the Inner City Basic Services for the Poor project is designed to improve access to basic and socio-economic infrastructure for residents in targeted communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. James. The government has received commitments from the World Bank to provide US$25 million towards its implementation.
The project has a number of elements, including improving access to water and sanitation, waste collection and lighting; rehabilitating public spaces and recreation areas; and major focus will be placed on crime and violence prevention.
Whitfield Town, Dunkirk, Trench Town, Jones Town and Federal Gardens are the targeted communities in Kingston and St. Andrew; Tawes Pen, Africa, Detroit, Big Lane, Little Lane, Shelter Rock, Andrews Lane, Lauriston and Bog Walk in St Catherine; Bucknor/Rectory Lands in Clarendon and Flankers in St James.
The Finance Minister informed that JSIF would have the responsibility for implementing the project, which will come into effect by the fourth quarter of the financial year. He noted that a major feature of the initiative would be its collaborative venture with the participating communities. “The activities will embrace strong community participation to build social capital and forge trust,” he pointed out.
In his remarks, Japan’s Ambassador Hiroshi Sakurai, said that grant allocation signalled the strong friendship between the two countries. He noted that, “the spirit of the signing laid not in the stated objectives of the document but the spirit of its intention in regards to both social and economic inclusion”.
The Ambassador expressed the hope that “the project would stand as working model of social engineering to transform lives, communities, country and the world”. He further noted, that his office would pay close attention to the resulting programmes, “as the stakes are high”.