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    A US$2.65 million (approximately J$230 million) grant contract has been signed between the Government of Jamaica and the Embassy of Japan, to reduce the incidence of crime and violence in high-risk and vulnerable inner city communities.
    The money was provided as part of the embassy’s programme, the Japan Social Development Fund Grant which, among other things, supports initiatives for developing sustainable outcomes through the adoption, or scaling-up, of pilot projects through bank-financed operations and recipient Government activities.
    It will be utilised through crime and violence prevention projects administered by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), and falls within the ambit of the ongoing Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP).
    The funds for the project are administered by the World Bank and aimed at instilling discipline, morality and ethics, while strengthening community capacity to fight crime and violence.
    Addressing the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, National Heroes Circle, Kingston, on May 14, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Senator the Hon. Don Wehby expressed pleasure at the grant.
    “It will go a far way to support JSIF to reduce the incidence of crime and violence in high risk and vulnerable inner city communities,” Senator Wehby said.
    “The ongoing projects of the JSIF will have a tremendous impact on the social and community aspects of our crime problem,” he added.
    He also commended the Government of Japan for providing the funds, and noted that there are many factors that have to be combined to achieve the overall goal of a more peaceful and respectful Jamaica.
    He said that these include: improvements in the education system, producing more persons with the skills and certification demanded worldwide; a growing economy, providing opportunities for all citizens to make an honest and comfortable living; reform of the justice system, to make it more equitable and efficient; improved capacity and skills of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), to enforce the laws; and a social support system for the most vulnerable persons in the society.
    Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masahiro Obata, noted that education and security are the two most important issues for the country’s social and economic development.
    Pointing to the Ministry of National Security’s vow of ensuring that Jamaican children grow up in a safe and secure environment, he said that his Government is committed to using the JSDF as a pivotal tool supporting local communities and civil society organisations in actively participating in Jamaica’s transition towards political, economic and social stability.
    The grant fund will be used to support, co-ordinate and target crime and violence prevention activities for over 13,500 residents in high risk neighbourhoods. Additionally, over 80,000 inner city residents of St. Andrew communities will benefit through improved public safety.

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