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Seventy-five Jamaicans received support, totalling $7.5 million, from the Ministry of Water and Housing under its Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Programme, at the Ministry’s New Kingston office on Thursday (July 2).
“This is part of the ongoing attempt to have a number of you, who received a battering during the storm, resettled in more comfortable circumstances,” Minster of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, declared.
He pointed out that much of the work was initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which has identified persons who suffered the most severe battering.
“Some people were literally in tents or living nowhere,” Dr. Chang noted.
He said that the directive came from Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, to help those persons who had lost their houses completely, as a result of the hurricane.
Dr. Chang explained that, in the process of providing alternative housing for the affected persons, some would have to be relocated in other areas. They have been cut off from their former places of residence, for example in sections of the Hope River area in St. Andrew, where houses and land have been washed away.
Recipients were presented with a letter from the Ministry, authorising the purchase of building material, totalling $100,000, from tax-compliant suppliers.
The funds will be paid later by the Ministry to the participating hardware stores. The Minister asked hardware dealers to deal honestly with the beneficiaries, as the monies will be remitted to them within 10 days.
The recipients have been exempted from the paying of General Consumption Tax (GCT) on the purchases. The suppliers have been discouraged from giving beneficiaries cash in exchange for the letters, or to return any part of the money as cash. Minister Chang said that this is to discourage the use of the money for purposes for which it was not intended.
Each recipient had to produce national identification in order to collect the letter at the Ministry. They are expected to identify themselves to the supplier and present the letter bearing his/ her name to access the benefit.
This new initiative comes on the heels of the handing over of 58 housing units to other Gustav victims in Portland recently, and the ongoing construction of 30 more units in the parish, which are to be handed over soon.
These moves follow assessments of the socio-economic status of the households in the worst affected areas, by the Ministry of Water and Housing, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, following Tropical Storm Gustav.
About 149 of the 248 households in Kingston which were affected by Gustav, have so far been assessed, including 10 which have received help in the form of housing units.

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