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MONTEGO BAY – Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has expressed gratitude to and commended private sector stakeholders for partnering with the Government, thus far, to implement the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).

Speaking at the third Social Development Commission (SDC) Parish Forum at the West Jamaica Conference Centre, in Mount Salem, St. James, on Thursday (November 22), Prime Minister Simpson Miller, in noting the success of JEEP's first phase, attributed this, in part, to the private sector's response to her call for a partnership with the government to implement the initiative.

She advised that the administration is ready to embark on the second phase, which will target employment for over 35,000 persons. She said specific focus will be placed on St. James, Hanover and Trelawny, three of the parishes which engage in significant tourism related activities.

"It is one step on the road for (the) long term provision of jobs; we are going for growth and development, with job creation. We are working hard to attract more visitors, and more investment in the (tourism) sector," she said, while noting two major tourism stakeholders whom, she disclosed, will be expanding their interests in St. James and Hanover during 2013.

Mrs. Simpson-Miller also announced plans by the administration to pursue housing developments for tourism workers, while pointing out that she has instructed the National Housing Trust (NHT) to pursue this undertaking.  Additionally, she informed that the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) will be intensifying its land title distribution initiatives in Western Jamaica, in 2013.

Meanwhile, on another matter, the Prime Minister, again, urged the society to be more integrally involved in safeguarding the welfare of the nation's children.

This, she argued, is imperative in ensuring that they are afforded the opportunity to fulfill their potentials, thereby, enabling them to make meaningful contributions to Jamaica's growth and development.

"We are not going to have a woman as Prime Minister of Jamaica, (if) we have the continuation of the abuse of our children. We are going to hold the parents and family members responsible; because, very often, when children are abused, they are abused by a member of the family and we are not going to have any of that," she stressed, while warning of severe consequences to the perpetrators.