Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, has disclosed that mining communities across the island will benefit from more than $60 million allocated under the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP).
Speaking at the launch of Phase Seven of the programme, held on October 13, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, the Minister said the 16 members of Parliament in the five bauxite-mining areas should move “quickly” in their submission of projects to access the funds.
“The quicker you use the funds, it gives us ‘ammunition’ to engage the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, to point out the needs of the communities, and the successes of the programme. We all have to play our part,” Mr. Montague said.
He told the gathering that bauxite will come to an end in 50 years, and “we need sustainable projects where there can be life after bauxite”.
“So, I urge my colleague Members of Parliament to look around their communities and engage the various community bodies,” the Minister said.
Mr. Montague emphasised that the projects should not be formulated without community consultations, and that the input of the Bauxite Community Councils, churches and youth groups must be reflected in the final decisions.
He lauded Member of Parliament for North West Manchester, Mikael Phillips, for a “commendable” project, aimed at boosting access to Internet services in his constituency.
“Look at innovative projects like that, to help the community and to change the fundamentals in the community,” the Minister said.
He informed that efforts are under way to ensure that the over 4,000 families in bauxite communities get their land titles, as the Administration is “determined” to complete the process and empower the residents with the instruments.
Mr. Montague called on the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) to ensure that the Councils have their annual general meetings and election of officers, where the communities are able to “renew and refresh” the organisations.
The BCDP was established in 1996, and since then more than 300 community projects have been implemented, at a cost of over $580 million. The programme was instituted to facilitate the reinvestment of earnings from the bauxite/alumina industry in communities affected by mining operations.