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300 JEEP jobs

Friday, February 14, 2014    

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GOVERNMENT announced on Wednesday that 300 of the jobs to be created under the just-launched Recycle Now Jamaica project will go to participants of the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).

The posts will include collectors, a general manager, a factory manager and staffing for six depots which will be set up island wide to facilitate the collection of PET bottles — plastic bottles made from non-biodegradable materials.

The $200-million recycling project is a three-year public/private partnership to be financed to the tune of $50 million per year by the Ministry of Finance, while a consortium of private sector entities will contribute $23.75 million annually over the period. It is set to begin in May of this year.

JEEP was conceptualised to provide short-term employment for persons at the lower socio-economic level, with execution staggered in four phases — March 22, 2012 - June 30, 2012; July 1- June 30, 2013, July 1, 2013 - March 31, 2014 and financial year 2014/2015. The secretariat told the Jamaica Observer yesteday that to date, 40,000 persons have been employed under the programme.

JEEP has attracted much criticism since it was rolled out in 2012, particularly from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, which argued that the People's National Party was merely rebranding an initiative it conceptualised while it was in Government.

Views from the general public were that JEEP was never properly thought through and was merely election gimmickry, especially in light of the bungling regarding sources of finance for the project.

At the Recycle Now launch, Project Director Lucille Brodber said the programme was healthy and on-track.

"We haven't run out of gas," she said.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies said he expects that the depots, locations for which have not yet been confirmed, will receive just under a million bottles per day, which is the amount needed to meet the target of reducing the country's solid waste by 15 per cent during the first year of the project.

CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust Diana McCaulay agreed that the programme will go a far way in mitigating the country's solid waste management problem.

But the benefits to be gained are not limited to the environment and employment, according to Davies, who said the baled plastic reaped from the national recycling inititative will be exported to markets in the United States and China to earn foreign exchange.

Davies also mentioned that financial incentives will be provided to independent collectors in order to increase the rate at which the bottles are collected and stimulate the growth of the small business sector in the area of processing and manufacturing recycled plastic.

Among the incentives offered to investors under JEEP are tax exemption for new investments which create jobs, and a five-year tax holiday for all start-ups.

The Recycle Now consortium includes Wisynco Group, Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, GraceKennedy Foods and Services, Jamaica Beverages, Lasco, Trade Winds Citrus, and Seprod. They will be responsible for creating a consolidation and logistics hub which will be used to house the bailing line and act as a storage facility for finished products.

— Tashauna Taylor

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