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$1-billion disaster-mitigation programme

Prime minister says it is not 'bolo work' for Christmas

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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GOVERNMENT will be spending almost $1 billion in the final round of a national disaster -mitigation works programme, which will lead into to the Christmas season, Prime Minister Andrew Holness informed the House of Representatives yesterday.

The prime minister told the House that the works have been programmed into Government's overall mitigation plan, which is being rolled out in three tranches. He said that the first two phases of mitigation and the three phases of road patching have been completed this year, costing more than $800 million.

However, he cautioned that while the programme coincides with Christmas, it was not “bolo work”. He noted that strict observance to Government's procurement rules and guidelines must be observed in undertaking this programme, and that individuals will be held accountable.

“It so happens to coincide with Christmas, but it is not the give away work; it's not bolo work; is not work that you just expect to get a money and come out and do nothing; you must do some work in this programme. The work will be measured and there must be an account of the funds spent,” he added.

“In fact, Mr Speaker, 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,” Holness commented.

He said that the work programmes created by all parliamentary representatives should be fairly detailed, noting that consultations with the MPs are expected to start this week. MPs, said Holness, should immediately start creating fairly detailed programmes, including the number of people to be hired and with photographs showing the situation prior to the work taking place.

He said that work should commence next Monday, November 19, and should be completed by December 7. Measurement and certification of completed works should end by December 11, and payments will be made on December 13 and 14.

He said that the Government, under this phase of the programme, will be spending $997 million over the next several weeks. The programme will take on a national focus and will be driven by the members of parliament. Each constituency will be allocated $12 million to target critical drains, road patching, and to undertake sanitation work.

He said that Government has proposed that the allocation to each constituency be broken down as follows: $6 million for bushing and drain cleaning, $5 million for patching of potholes, and $1 million for the general clean-up of urban towns and rural townships

He noted that the $1-million allocation for general clean-up in each constituency is being provided by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), while the Government will finance the remainder.

“Additionally, the NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management Agency) is being allocated $100 million to target the removal of bulky waste in townships across the country. These funds are also to be used to assist in implementing a beautification project in these areas,” Holness explained.

He said that the new round of works is crucial given the levels of rainfall that all parishes have experienced, with some areas being significantly affected by flooding.

“We had the unfortunate situation in Clarendon, for example, where a young boy lost his life due to flooding in the town of May Pen. We intend to use this round of our mitigation programme to target some of these areas that we, as representatives of the people, know are problematic,” he said.

“I wish to emphasise that while members of parliament will be allowed some flexibility in determining reallocation of funds for drain cleaning and bushing ($6 million in their constituencies based on their specific circumstances), funds allotted for patching ($5 million) cannot be reallocated and must be used only for that purpose,” he said.

He said that the programme will be implemented by the National Works Agency and the NSWMA, and will be jointly undertaken by the two agencies as their work complements each other.

“We know that there is a serious cultural problem as to how we dispose of our garbage. We see it almost every day, where persons throw garbage through car windows, into gullies and [on] the side of streets. Our drainage system is then compromised, leading to flooding in many of these areas. Our plan is to arrest this situation and through this programme, a start will be made,” the prime minister added.

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