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Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St. Ann, Ernest Smith, has commended the Government for the establishment of the Constituency Development Fund, which he said, has greatly enhanced the ability of MPs to take care of their constituencies.
“Every Member of Parliament must give thanks to the government for the Constituency Development Fund, because it makes all the difference in the world in discharging all of our responsibilities,” Mr. Smith said in his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (May 27).
He noted that with the allocation under the fund, “sensible” programmes could now be initiated, so that “we can look back and say that in my constituency, I was able, through the Constituency Development Fund, to cause this particular essential project, beneficial to the people, to have been put in place.”
He also commended the Government for fulfilling its promise of free tuition and the abolition of hospital user fees.
Mr. Smith raised concern about bauxite mining activities in St. Ann and what he said was lack of economic progress in bauxite communities. He noted that the constituency “had nothing to show for the billions of dollars earned from bauxite mining.”
According to Mr. Smith, reclamation exercises were poor and behind by up to 20 years in some areas, although the law stipulates that it should be done within a maximum of three years.
“This is something that has been going on for years, and all of us in this House have a collective responsibility to ensure that this practice of the destruction of our landscape stops,” he stated.
Mr. Smith however lauded Prime Minister, Bruce Golding for his commitment to using a part of the income from the bauxite levy for capital development in bauxite areas.
He further praised the Government for other initiatives such as the upgrading of the Cascade water supply system and informed that a part of the disbursement from the Constituency Development Fund had been earmarked for the rehabilitation of some of the 27 catchment tanks serving the Alexandria and Gibraltar divisions. He also informed that a parcel of land had been identified to establish a long-awaited housing scheme in the constituency.
Turning to the matter of schools, Mr. Smith said the constituency needed at least two more high schools as the Aabuthnott Gallimore High school, which was built to accommodate 750 students, now has a population of 1,600. He noted that students, particularly in the Borobridge area, were forced to attend schools in other parishes, and faced the additional cost of transportation.
The MP also called for the upgrading of the Alexandria Hospital, noting that “there are a number of countries, based on contacts that I have already made, that are prepared to assist in the upgrading and rehabilitation of the Alexandria Hospital.”