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35,000 Jamaicans to hop on JEEP next month

Published:Wednesday | June 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

Phase two of the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), which was announced yesterday by Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies was not without controversy as an Opposition lawmaker accused the administration of not respecting the role of members of parliament in the planned roll out of the programme.

Davies, in a statement to the House of Representatives, said phase two would provide employment for 35,000 Jamaicans and would be implemented in mid July with a focus on infrastructure projects.

In this phase of JEEP the Government plans to spend a little more than $6 billion to provide short-term employment to Jamaicans.

Davies told his colleagues in the House that the infrastructure projects would be implemented by government and non-government agencies.

Submit projects quickly

He urged parliamentarians to submit their projects as quickly as possible to the JEEP Secretariat. Parish councils, citizens' associations, church groups and NGOs are also invited to make submissions to the Secretariat.

Davies told MPs that he would not disclose the amount to be allocated to them in the new phase of the programme.

A seemingly disgruntled North Central St Andrew Member of Parliament Karl Samuda charged that the approach being taken by the Government in administering phase two of JEEP was unacceptable.

"I think that the administration of the programme is at best sketchy. It is untidy. It almost smacks of the sort of 'willy nilly' approach. It contradicts the very foundation on which we are elected in this House."

The Opposition MP complained that the proposed expenditure of tens of millions of dollars could not be left entirely to the JEEP Secretariat or a group of individuals to determine the priorities from the list of projects to be submitted by various organisations.

Taking issue with the minister's announcement that both MPs and other groups should submit projects under JEEP, Samuda accused Davies of "lumping MPs with 'Tom, Dick and Harry'."

A team from the Parliamentary Opposition will meet with Davies in an attempt to hammer out a formula for implementing phase two of JEEP.

Under phase one of JEEP $10 million was allocated to all 63 constituencies to carry out various projects. Approximately 6,500 persons received employment under that phase.