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$5b from new China loan for JEEP

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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MINISTER of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips says that the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) will be back in motion again by March.

The Government is planning to spend US$50 million (J$5 billion) of the US$352 million (J$35.2 billion) Chinese loan to finance its new infrastructure development programme, the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), to revive JEEP.

Members of Parliament are expected to be the first to benefit with each constituency set to receive $10 million.

Dr Phillips told the House of Representatives last week Tuesday that funds to finance the aspects of the programme under which members of parliament (MPs) can make recommendations will be disbursed by next month.

"What the Government has done first is to ensure that there is the emergency employment programme. The resources from the Chinese loan are there and will be disbursed in this quarter for, first of all, that section having to do with your JEEP programme," he told the MPs.

He was responding to questions from Opposition spokesman on finance and planning, Audley Shaw, on the unemployment situation.

A draft report prepared by Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) for Parliament states that the new phase of JEEP will be funded under MIDP.

The report states that US$50 million ($5 billion) of the US$352 million ($35.2 billion) loan to finance MIDP, which was finalised by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on her trip to China in November, will be dedicated to JEEP.

Of the JEEP allocation, $10 million will be allocated to each constituency to cover infrastructural projects such as construction of retaining walls and sidewalks as well as work to be done on roads and gullies.

MIDP will replace the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), which was concluded recently at a cost of $366 million, of which US$340 million was a loan from China negotiated by the previous Government.

It was reported to the committee in November that the completion certification for JDIP had already been prepared, and US$5.2 million was needed to complete the works. The value of the measured works performed was US$366.5 million.

The PAAC said that it was "pleased" that works under JDIP were completed within budget.

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