by Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THE PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) says it intends to use a quarter of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) funds to fuel its JEEP.
JEEP is the acronym for the opposition party's proposed Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme.
In its election manifesto, released during a ceremony at the Wyndham hotel in New Kingston yesterday, the PNP said part funding for its JEEP would be "derived from existing state resources".
The party said such JEEP programmes would "implement well-designed infrastructure projects, which will simultaneously stimulate economic activity and create employment".
"The main source of funding for such projects will be a reallocation of approximately 25 per cent of the JDIP budget, complemented by resources from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)," the party's manifesto states.
"These resources will be channelled into labour-intensive infrastructure projects, such as the construction of retaining walls, paving of gullies and reforestation. Proper systems will be put in place to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency."
The JDIP is a US$400-million programme that is dedicated to repairing the country's road infrastructure.
Dr Omar Davies, the chairman of the manifesto committee, said the party was confident that "with proper management and the elimination of the highly questionable practices which have characterised the JDIP to date, in particular the sole sourcing of contractors ... , we are convinced that the 75 per cent, after we have taken the sum out for JEEP, which will remain can achieve virtually the same level of project implementation as is presently being achieved."
Davies said a PNP administration would "begin immediate negotiations with the Chinese lenders" for the reallocation of the funds to facilitate labour-intensive capital projects.
Aiming at tourism centres
It is not the first time the PNP is proposing the use of the TEF for infrastructure work.
Davies, in his contribution to the 2009-2010 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, had urged the Government to undertake such spending to "return hope to many faces".
Davies yesterday said the TEF-oiled JEEP would be aimed mainly at tourism centres. It would fund labour-intensive and clean-up projects and is to complement the efforts of the National Solid Waste Management Authority in those areas.
In the meantime, the PNP said, should it form the government after the election, it would provide opportunities for private-sector firms to complement JEEP's activities.