JIS News

Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson emphasized today that the “possibilities for growth and development” associated with Highway 2000, particularly in St. Catherine, were endless.
He pointed out that a development plan for lands along the highway corridor has been completed, to further enhance growth in the country. The plan explores possibilities for the sustainable development of the area. It also identifies critical growth areas, which can be enhanced to stimulate investment in the project area.
“Taking advantage of the opportunity is one of the fundamental choices to be made,” the Minister said, adding that the significance of the Highway 2000 development to the country, and St. Catherine in particular, has escaped the grasp of many.
Speaking at a high-powered development workshop for the parish, involving key developers and entrepreneurs, at the Caymanas Golf Course, Dr. Robertson said the meeting was one of several being held at the community level to further the exploration of new ways to enable national development.
He noted that St. Catherine, as one of the country’s largest parishes, was diverse in its offerings, being home to several historical sites, the WINDALCo bauxite and alumina plant, the island’s largest fishing village, some of the largest and most efficient agricultural entities, as well as the largest and fastest growing residential communities.
The Minister pointed out that any deliberation on the sustainable development of the parish must address the provision of universal access to social amenities and the creation of opportunities for greater contribution to growth and development.
He said there was also a need to promote investment in services and infrastructure, while noting that it was important that more effective integrated participatory processes be built for development to take place.
“All this must be buttressed by a thriving economy, which provides opportunities for employment and entrepreneurial activity,” the Minister emphasized.He said it was expected that proposals emerging from the workshop would be incorporated into the work schedule of the Programme Management Office (PMO), which was commissioned to monitor and facilitate the implementation of initiatives identified during the Government/Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica 2003 retreat.
“This is a serious exercise and while there is no magic wand to wave, the fact is that if we do our work properly, what we decide here can be of fundamental importance and will receive the highest level of implementation that is possible in the country,” the Minister said.
Other projects under the Government’s programme of growth and development being monitored by the PMO involve the recently launched Jamaica Music Revue; the development of Falmouth as a heritage site and tourist attraction; retirement communities, aimed at attracting Jamaican migrants of the 1950’s now at retirement age; and the tourism train project, which contemplates the re-establishment of a railway tour from Montego Bay to Appleton Estate in Siloah, St. Elizabeth.
Other contributors to the deliberations included the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s Everton McFarlane; Senior Urban and Regional Planner for Highway 2000, Joy Douglas; Executive Director of the Social Development Commission, Robert Bryan; Senior Superintendent of Police, Leon Rose; and Executive Director of the Kingston Restoration Company, Morin Seymour.
St. Catherine has the fastest growing population in the island, accounting for some 18.5 per cent of the island’s total population. Overall, St. Catherine accounts for about 15.7 per cent of the total labour force of Jamaica.

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