FLANKER, St James - MEMBER of Parliament for North West St James Dr Horace Chang is urging the Government to continue utilising money from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to upgrade squatter settlements in tourism-dependent parishes.
"You (Dr Morais Guy, Minister with responsibility for Housing) need to convince your colleagues, and your senior colleagues should be aware that the programme should continue. If you use the TEF you can remove the issue of squatting on the north coast within a four year period, and I think that would be a big plus, not just for the Government, but the entire country," urged Dr Chang.
The member of Parliament was speaking recently at a land title handing over ceremony hosted by the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) at the Flanker Multi-purpose Centre in St James.
Some 60 residents of Flanker and Norwood, in the parish, received their titles, some of whom have been awaiting the documents for over 30 years.
Dr Chang, who is the political representative for both communities, in his presentation argued that the continued use of funds to upgrade squatter settlements would improve the quality of life for individuals, most of whom he said, are workers in the tourism sector.
The last Jamaica Labour Party Administration had, two years ago, committed some $1 billion from the TEF toward the upgrading of squatter settlements in the parishes of St Ann and St James over a three-year period.
This funding has enabled the HAJ to undertake a raft of infrastructural projects in several communities, including Norwood and Flanker.
It is not clear if the present People's National Party (PNP's) Administration wants to end the programme.
Meanwhile, Dr Guy, in his address, at the ceremony pointed out that "no longer will an individual hearing about Flanker, think about fire, but when you hear about Flanker, when you hear about Norwood, they start thinking about a community of people who have shed certain characteristics, are no longer squatters, but are rightful owners of their own property and have sought to develop their community with the civic pride and the social and economic mobility that is attendant on you getting your titles."
He also implored the recipients to pay their property taxes, and then demand of the local parish council that it provides them with improved services, such as a proper garbage collection system.