JIS News

Chief Executive Officer of the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR), Danville Walker has said there was a possibility that the lifetime of the office would have to be extended to allow it to conclude the purpose it was established for.
He was speaking at a press conference at the ONR offices on Oxford Road in Kingston recently to give an update on the scope of work achieved since its inception last October.
The ONR was instituted in the wake of Hurricane Ivan last September, to within six months, coordinate the response to hurricane damage from international donor agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), as well as a number of countries, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and other groups and individuals. The ONR has been targeting the repair of schools, public buildings, housing and the agriculture and health sectors.
Mr. Walker said it was necessary that the ONR continued past March 31 because there were still significant projects on the ground that needed to be completed.
This he pointed out was made all the more necessary as the funds, which were being administered by the USAID had expiry deadlines attached to them. He explained that it was necessary for the ONR to collaborate with these agencies to ensure that the funds were utilized before the December 2005 expiration date.
The USAID is administering some US$18 million for the relief effort with the first US$7.5 million tranche expiring in April and the US$18 million awarded by congress, in December.
“My personal view is that as long as the USAID are here with about US$18 million worth of benefit administering there needs to be an ONR to work in co-ordination with them,” Mr. Walker said adding, “it is in Jamaica’s interest than an ONR to smooth the way and to maximize the receipt of benefits.”
Mr. Walker said however that there had been no discussions with the government on the matter as yet. When asked to offer a reasonable time period in which the work could be done, the ONR CEO said the necessary extension period should be based on the projects.
Speaking to the resumption of his post as Director of Elections at the Electoral Office of Jamaica come April, Mr. Walker said he would find it difficult to walk away from incomplete projects and would be happy to continue in both capacities.
PSOJ President, Beverly Lopez in her comments expressed satisfaction with the alliance, noting that the PSOJ was pleased and satisfied with the work of the ONR and would continue to grant support. She added that if necessary the organization would also make an appeal to the government that Mr. Walker’s tenure be extended to allow him to complete the job.Prime Minister P. J. Patterson in September proposed the establishment of the special Office to co-ordinate the national reconstruction effort, following the passage of Hurricane Ivan.

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