Economic formalisation project up and running in St James
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), is in the implementation stage of formalising the informal economy project in two pilot communities in Granville and Garlands, in St James.
The project, which is in phase one of two, will concentrate on data-collection activities and the analysis of such data to generate knowledge and provide baseline information.
"Most of us are familiar with the situation that is now existing in the community of Granville ... it is easy to assess that this community has a litany of woes, but the residents are now seeking a new direction," said O. Dave Allen, the Local Economic Development coordinator for the project.
The purpose of the Local Oversight Committee (LOC) is to oversee the operations and activities of the formalisation of the informal economy project in St James and to support the pilot project in Garlands and Granville to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
"The LOC will be seeking to enhance the capacity of these communities to identify employment and labour market challenges and opportunities, plan and implement their responses, in the areas of employment creation, training or other capacity development approaches," noted Allen, during at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in Montego Bay.
"The LOC will also give support to the micro and small enterprises in the two pilot communities by establishing a foundation to successfully implement locally-based programmes that promote, facilitate, and support job creation and the same time, enhance quality jobs, which will reduce established informality," added Allen.
According to Allen, Garlands and Granville are the two pilot communities and much of the success will be directly as a result of how much of this strategy they adopt.
"The choosing of the communities is done by the International Labour Organization with the Government of Jamaica as guide, so it, therefore, means that once these pilots are completed successfully, the project will then move into another phase," noted Allen.
Allen, further noted that with Garlands being mainly a farming community, a major thrust of the programme will be centred around the revitalisation of farm produce to include the production and value-added offshoots in products such as bamboo.
"More than 300 acres of quality farming land is being held by the soon to be reactivated cooperative society, and from all indications, based on training opportunities and land availability, that section of the parish will soon be on its way to formalise its informal economy to benefit the residents," noted Allen. "We would like to see this area have a direct link to the tourism markets here in Montego Bay and beyond."
The programme, which began in December 2014, will end in September of this year. At that time, new communities will be selected to continue the transformation of its informal economy.