DESPITE THE Office of the Contractor General (OCG) referring the Portia Simpson Miller-chaired Cabinet to the director of public prosecutions for criminal prosecution, the Government is indicating it intends to push along with three projects which have caused horns to be locked with the watchdog agency.
In a broadcast to the nation last night, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller listed the three projects at the centre of the dispute with the contractor general as "exciting economic initiatives" to come on stream this year.
The projects are the development of the Gordon Cay Container Trans-shipment Hub, the development of the Fort Augusta Container Terminal and a logistics centre, and the north-south link of Highway 2000.
Simpson Miller yesterday said the Highway 2000 project, which is to be undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company at a price tag of US$610 million, "will create a number of jobs as there will be major development projects along the corridor between St Catherine and St Ann".
The Government and the OCG have been at daggers drawn over a Cabinet decision to appoint an independent oversight panel to advise the Cabinet on the feasibility of three projects.
Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies has taken the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking to bar the OCG from compelling members of the oversight panel to report to it. The Government has also asked the court to make a declaration to determine the extent of the contractor general's power.
In the meantime, Simpson Miller announced that Cabinet has also approved the establishment of an enterprise team for the privatisation of the Kingston Container Terminal.
BIG THINGS ON HORIZON
She also said big things are on the horizon in tourism. According to the prime minister, there will be an injection of more than US$200 million in capital expenditure, with projects including leisure hotels Riu Palace and Fiesta Phase Two, as well as Shanghai and Marriott business hotels.
The prime minister has also signalled that up to 10,000 new jobs could be created as a result of a US$20-million facility being established by the Development Bank of Jamaica. She said the bank has put aside the funds for on-lending to investors to finance and support the construction of information and communications technology facilities.
In the area of education, Simpson Miller announced that starting this school year, all students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education will receive a breakfast supplement, with approximately 230,000 students being fed daily.
She also said "creative ways will be found to enable more of the children of the poor to attend tertiary institutions this year".