The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) will be moving into higher gear with the strengthening of activities under the project this fiscal year, says Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.
There will also be the implementation of a number of infrastructure programmes in the new fiscal year, geared at improving the country’s road network, he said.
The Governor General made the disclosure, on May 10, as he delivered the Throne Speech in Parliament, to signal the start of the 2012/13 Financial Year, which began on April 1.
The Throne Speech, titled ‘Nation on a Mission’, outlined the Government’s programmes and policies for the 2012-13 legislative year.
He informed that in recognition of the urgent need to respond to the inadequate provisions for the lowest socio-economic groups, the JEEP will be strengthened and rolled out even further.
Activities under JEEP will range from river training works; repairs to gullies and drains; road repairs; the installation of traffic lights; agricultural activities, such as honey production, banana/plantain resuscitation; low income housing construction; training of persons as administrative assistants in the National Youth Service; and work-based training programmes.
“We have already reached our first phase target of 5,000 jobs,” the Governor-General said.
He noted that a deliberate effort will be made to encourage participation of non-governmental groups as well as political representatives in the programme. “Let it be emphasised that transparency and accountability will continue to characterise the implementation of all projects under JEEP,” he said.
The JEEP, which was officially launched on March 22 by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is one of the strategies that the Government will implement to respond to the chronic unemployment status of some Jamaicans, particularly those in the lower socio-economic category, persons with special needs, low skill levels and those from under-served communities.
On the development agenda, the Governor General informed that this will be approached from several angles. Beginning this fiscal year, and continuing over the medium term, a number of infrastructure projects will be implemented. They will include the resumption of work on the vitally needed North-South leg of the Highway 2000 project, and the completion of the Mount Rosser bypass.
“Pending conclusion of negotiations with the investor, work on the completion of the Mount Rosser bypass will be resumed before the end of the calendar year,” the Governor General said. “At another level, development will be pursued through a Community Renewal Programme, details of which will be provided in the Budget Debate,” he added.
In the meantime, Sir Patrick said this year, the government would be working to put more idle lands into production. Turmeric and ginger production will be expanded on approximately 450 acres of agricultural land, he informed.
Efforts are also underway for the resuscitation and expansion of the cocoa industry in several parishes, including St. Thomas, St. Mary, Clarendon and St. James.
“We are going further up the value chain with agro processing of our richly flavoured cocoa beans, which are ranked among the finest in the world,” he stated.
The Governor General also said that special focus will be placed on the fisheries sector this year, especially inland fisheries, taking into consideration the continuing depletion of the country’s aquatic resources.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter