|Patterson defends environmental record
Monday, June 24, 2002
IN the face of a recent barracking from environmentalists, Prime Minister P J Patterson has defended his government's environmental record, saying that while it had not reached perfection it had done more than most administrations in Jamaica's history.
Speaking on Friday to hand out certificates of possessions of lots to beneficiaries of the Operation PRIDE programme at Whitehall, Negril, Patterson also highlighted his administration's record in shelter provision, but stressed that this was never at odds with environmental protection.
"In our effort to provide housing for the people, we have never forgotten the need to protect the environment and to insist on sustainable development," the prime minister said.
The administration has been criticised over a number of recent developments and his spokesman sparked a recent debate by insisting on the quality of the high achievements of the Patterson government on the environmental front.
Patterson reiterated that the PRIDE programme was the government's response to the serious problem of squatting and unplanned development which the administration inherited on taking office in 1989.
He said, however, that the programme was not confined to squatters, but was a multi-faceted one for the orderly development of affordable shelter for people with modest incomes.
Patterson also recalled a number of initiatives undertaken by his government to protect the environment, including:
* watershed management;
* beach and ocean and coastal zone management policies;
* a national biodiversity strategy and action plan;
* a national policy on environmental management systems;
* regulations for the operation of national parks;
* marine park regulations;
* wildlife protection legislation; and
* air quality regulations.
He noted too, that it was the present government which had created the Natural Environment Protection Agency.
In all this, even as the Operation PRIDE programme recently encountered some problems, it was giving real power to ordinary people by meeting their needs and providing a solid social and economic base for them.
Already, he said, 11,463 persons have been made land and home owners for the first time through Operation PRIDE and the number would rise to over 30,000 within the next three months.
No other government in Jamaica's history had ever attempted, or been able to achieve such far-reaching gains in housing provision with full regard to sustainable development practices, Patterson said.