House welcomes $2.3b dengue and disaster mitigation programmes

House welcomes $2.3b dengue and disaster mitigation programmes

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – The government will be spending some $2.3 billion over the coming weeks on disaster mitigation, elimination of mosquito breeding sites as well as solid waste removal, beautification and improvements to roads and civil infrastructures.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday informed the House of Representatives of a $1.3 billion enhanced disaster mitigation programme, just hours after Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, announced plans to spend $1 billion on an enhanced intervention/dengue response.

However, Holness insisted that while the programmes would continue into February 2020, they were much more than the usual “Christmas work” and were aimed at tackling serious problems affecting the country.

Dr Tufton said that given the intensity of the current dengue outbreak, which has taken some 44 lives since this year, he had sought and received the Cabinet's approval for an enhanced intervention which will involve spending $1 billion over the next three months.

He appealed to all Jamaicans to partner with the government by taking action, including searching their surroundings for mosquito breeding sites and visiting doctors or health centres, as is necessary, while the dengue threat continues.

But, while Opposition spokesman on health, Dr Morais Guy criticised Dr Tufton for what he felt was “a little too late”, Government and Opposition MPs greeted the announcement of the $1.3 billion mitigation programme which will be allocated at $15 million per constituency, plus interventions by government agencies including the National Works Agency (NWA) and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).

Holness gave the breakdown per MP as follows: $4 million for bushing and drain cleaning; $3 million for sanitation and beautification works; $3 million for vector control; and, $5 million for patching of potholes/road repairs.

He said that MPs will be allowed flexibility in reallocating the funds between bushing and drain cleaning, and sanitation and beautification works in their constituencies, but a minimum of $1.5 million must be spent on sanitation and beautification works.

He said that the sanitation and beautification works will be undertaken by the NSWMA and road works by the NWA and, as soon as the programme gets started MPs must indicate the amount they will allocate.

He added that, as is the practice, MPs will not be able to reallocate the $5 million for patching. Neither will they be able to reallocate from vector control ($3 million) to any other area.

“I have directed that strict observance to Government's procurement rules and guidelines must be observed in undertaking this programme, and persons will be held accountable,” he cautioned.

“In fact, as we did last year, the Integrity Commission has been written to and has been invited to provide the requisite oversight to the implementation of the programme. I expect that the Commission will be on board in this regard. This Government puts measures in place to ensure that there is value for funds expended, and that quality outcomes are obtained,” he stated.

Balford Henry

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