I want to respond to the issues that have been raised about the projects that have been selected for this year’s Labour Day to be observed on May 25.
The Prime Minister is absolutely right. The selection of three of the four projects for national focus on Labour Day does appear partisan. But the appearance, in this case, is not reality. These four very worthwhile and important projects were not selected on a partisan basis.
It is my aim that all constituencies will benefit from work on Labour Day. In addition to the support that the Labour Day Secretariat can provide, I made representation to the Constituency Development Fund for money to be approved, to all Members of Parliament, for Labour Day projects. On May 5, all Members of Parliament received correspondence indicating that such funds were approved.
The unchallenged fact is that, to date, I have received only four proposals from Members of Parliament to partner with the National Labour Day Secretariat this year after I wrote to all MPs on April 15 asking them to design Labour Day projects. I received four proposals from MPs and I rejected none.
The four Members of Parliament who submitted projects saw an opportunity, that was available to all MPs, and embraced it. Should I have turned them away when they came with proposals to partner with the National Labour Day Secretariat to make a difference in the lives of the people they are there to serve?
It has been reported in the media that I only added the fourth project since Monday as a means of pacifying the Opposition. This is not the case. Here are the facts:The first three projects were approved shortly after my letter to Members of Parliament in April.I announced three projects at the National Launch on May 1. Labour day promotional media were also distributed at the launch and those featured three projects.MP Derrick Kellier who attended the National Launch approached me in Parliament a few days later (May 5) and asked to have his very worthwhile project supported. I agreed to his request right away. On May 8, I brought Mr Kellier’s request to the National Labour Day Committee and it was endorsed. As at May 8 there were four projects that would be given support by the Labour Day Secretariat.It is not true that millions of tax payers’ money will be spent on each project by the Labour Day Secretariat. The maximum that the Secretariat will grant to each of the four projects is five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).
The impression is being given that constituencies other than the four, which will have national focus, will not be able to mount Labour Day projects. This is not the case.
The Prime Minister clearly explained yesterday that all MPs have been notified (by letter) that they can use the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) from their Constituency Development Fund allocation to undertake Labour Day Projects in their constituencies.
Labour Day is not divisive. It is inclusive. It is a time when each one helps one; when each one chips in.
I urge all of us to chip in and work together. Please register Labour Day projects with the Parish Councils, the SDC offices, the JCDC offices, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and online at www.jis.gov.jm. In the spirit of this year’s theme – Volunteerism, Intervention, Beautification and Empowerment for Success – let’s all “ketch” the vibes this Labour Day – Monday May 25.

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