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News for Week of February 27, 2022
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‘There must be zero corruption,’ says Prime Minister
Two housing units, built under the New Social Housing Programme, have been handed over in the Barbary Hall and Flagaman communities in St. Elizabeth.
The three-bedroom units given to Doreen Simms in Barbary Hall and Shelly-Ann Russell in Flagaman.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness used the occasion to emphasize the importance of ensuring that the programme remains free from corruption.
“In a project like this, there must be zero corruption of any form. There must not be any corruption with contractors and padding of bills or dragging out work,” he said. “There must not be any corruption in the beneficiary selection, no corruption with material procurement. Every dollar that is spent in this programme, must go to the beneficiary.”
The Prime Minister noted that a committee free of political representatives carried out a rigorous process to ensure that only deserving beneficiaries are selected to benefit from the programme.
“They come into the communities, and they do their social investigations. They ask questions, they check, and they make sure that the person who is being put forward as a beneficiary actually does deserve the benefit, because the destruction of the faith and the hope would be even more if persons who don’t deserve it get it,” he said.
Better roads coming for parts of island this year
A total of $5 billion has been budgeted for roadworks during the new financial that starts in April.
Giving a summary, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Everald Warmington, stated that $300 million is earmarked for emergency work resulting from flooding; $84 million is programmed for gullies; $54 million for bridges; and $74 million to address issues relating to traffic signals.
“The resources are limited, but we try our best to use it to the best [that] we can to get as much as we can out of it. I am very satisfied that, at least, we [can] make some inroads and make some difference in the communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, several major roadways in and around Montego Bay, St. James, have been identified for rehabilitation and drainage upgrade. Mr. Warmington, along with representatives of the National Works Agency (NWA) and Member of Parliament for St James Central, Heroy Clarke, visited several of the areas being targeted. They include Cornwall Courts, Green Pond, Valley Heights, Capital Heights, King Street, and North Gully.
Jamaica strengthening resilience to disasters
Construction of three fire stations across the island is to be completed during the new financial year.
These are the Montego Bay Fire Station in St. James, the Port Maria Fire Station in St. Mary, and the Yallahs Fire Station in St. Thomas.
A sum of $673.54 million has been allocated under the Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project to complete these works and other activities.
The money, which has been set aside in the 2022/23 Estimates of Expenditure, will also be used to complete the Port Royal Street Coastal Revetment Project in Kingston, and facilitate training on the new Building Codes by institutions such as the HEART/NSTA Trust, Management Institute for National Development, and the University of Technology.
In addition, the allotment will go towards completing a three-year Seismology Research Fellowship, as well as completing the National Risk Information Platform (NRIP), and Micro-zonation Study and Coastal Assessments.
The project, which seeks to enhance Jamaica’s resilience to disaster and climate risk, is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, with funding from the Government of Jamaica and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
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Boost for food security with Bodles upgrade
The upgraded irrigation system at the Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine is expected to play a vital role in strengthening the Fruit Tree Project.
In 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Jamaica Agricultural Society, embarked on a National Fruit Tree Planting Programme, to increase the nation’s food security.
Acting Principal Research Director in the Research and Development Division at the ministry, Michelle Sherwood, said this technical improvement is valuable, as the plants need to be irrigated regularly.
“We produce seedlings for the mango and the fruit tree projects. The irrigation systems were poor and so have affected us over the years to be able to produce these seedlings. Now that it is being repaired and the pressure has improved, we’re now able to provide an adequate supply of water to our nurseries,” she said.
Improvement in the water pressure has also helped the work done in the laboratories at the Bodles Research Station.
In the meantime, rehabilitation work at the Bodles Research Station has led to the improvement of the Post-harvest Lab. This facility is critical to maintaining the freshness, nutrient content, taste and quality of fruits and vegetables after reaping.
Jamaica sets sight on Middle East region for business
Jamaica is being touted by the Government as a potential regional hub for flight service being explored between the Middle East and the Caribbean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said the country’s vision in this regard is to connect more with Middle East region.
“We have strong, friendly and vibrant diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates,” said the Minister. “We think that there are lots of opportunities to be [derived] if we were able to leverage direct flights from the Middle East, possibly from Dubai, which could allow Jamaica to serve as a hub for the region.”
Senator Johnson Smith said Jamaica’s central location and aviation connectivity gives the country a comparative advantage for consideration as a hub. “We have 220 gateways into the United States of America (USA), we’re connected into Panama… [and] we’re connected to South and Central America. [So] there’s so much more that’s possible,” she pointed out.
She noted that Jamaica’s trade agreements with the USA, United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) also present opportunities for prospective transshipment, light manufacturing, export and re-export activities with the Middle Eastern cities and territories, including Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, utilising the country’s special economic zones.