Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
HAMPTON COURT, St Thomas:THE GOVERNMENT on Thursday undertook to do what Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller described as "correcting a historical wrong".
Delivering the keynote address at the contract-signing ceremony for the relocation of 486 current and former sugar workers, Simpson Miller declared that the time had come to redress the squalor and deplorable conditions these Jamaicans had endured for decades.
"The intention is to build wholesome communities, remove the stigma associated with living in barracks, and thereby correct a historical wrong that has persisted for far too long," Simpson Miller told the audience during the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.
"The time has now come for a fundamental and sustainable transformation of the way sugar workers live. I was determined to see this happen as part of my contribution to national development and the positive transformation of the lives of our people," she added.
The prime minister acknowledged that it would have been irresponsible of her government to ignore such social ills that have persisted, with the relocation project in line with its plans for taking economic transformation to new heights as part of the national growth strategy.
'SERIOUS ABOUT RURAL DEVELOPMENT'
She explained: "The Government that I lead recognises that sustainable economic growth and development cannot be achieved without addressing the social and environmental elements. We're serious about integrated rural development to provide Jamaicans in rural areas with opportunities to earn a decent livelihood and remain in their communities."
The prime minister went on to outline the Government's strategies for achieving sustained growth and development, but did not go into specifics. They are:
Carrying out the tough economic programme necessary to stabilise the economy and establish the platform for sustained economic growth;
Aggressively pursuing the development agenda in respect of projects which are currently in progress;
Doing all it can to protect the vulnerable in an efficient and effective and compassionate way, with the overarching objective always in view to move as many people as possible from welfare to work, from work to well-being and from well-being to wealth creation.
Simpson Miller also advised that the Government is renewing efforts to make service more responsive to the needs of the public within the constraints of the available resources.