Tangible results are being achieved in infrastructural development and productivity under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
The programme, which got underway in March 2012, exceeded its target employment of 5,000 persons during its first phase.
More than 18,000 Jamaicans were employed under JEEP, in areas such as road repairs, the construction of low-income housing, skills training, and agricultural production in ginger, turmeric, cocoa and bananas.
Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, highlighted activities and output under JEEP, during his 2013/14 Throne Speech in Gordon House on Thursday, April 4, to signal the start of the new financial year.
The Governor-General, who was speaking under the theme: ‘Jamaica: Going for Growth and Development’, also highlighted achievements in area of energy during the last fiscal year.
He said the Government has made strides in the area of net billing, to allow homes, and businesses to generate electricity from their own fuel sources, and sell the excess to the national grid.
He noted that progress was also made to allow an entity to produce its own electricity at one location and transmit it to another where it operates a business, via the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) transmission and distribution system, regulated by the Office of Utilities Regulation.
He noted that the Government had taken the decision to discontinue the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project, as the combined cost of the proposals was too expensive to achieve a reduction in the cost of electricity at the levels desired, and to positively impact on the cost of local alumina production.
He pointed out that the administration had, therefore, opted to: let the market determine the best combination of fuel and technology to achieve the objective of reliable and cheaper electricity for consumers and for the alumina producers to determine their best fuel options; and invite bids to generate electricity from renewables such as hydro-electric, wind, sunlight; as well as the use of waste as a means of diversifying the country’s energy needs.
Turning to industry and commerce, the Governor-General said focus will be placed on laws, procurement procedures, enhanced use of information communication technology (ICT), better risk management, and more user-friendly government services, in order to improve Jamaica’s ‘Doing Business’ rating.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter