New Year’s wishes
Tackling crime, downtown Kgn redevelopment, labour issues key to successful 2023
Crime and violence remain the number one issue in Jamaica and hold us back as a nation because it deters investment in the country and creates an excessive burden on our security force and health system. It affects the poor and most vulnerable persons in our society. Our Government needs to demonstrate that it really cares about the people of Jamaica by enacting laws and implementing systems that are laid out in the Crime Monitoring and Oversight Committee pact, of which it is a signatory.
There are also a number of other crucial matters that require the attention of the government in 2023:
Development of downtown Kingston
This matter has been on every government’s agenda for decades, but little has been done to make it a reality and the Urban Development Corporation has failed miserably to make it a reality. Every other Caribbean island has been able to maintain and grow its original town centre and benefit greatly from this. A revitalised downtown would be a tremendous thing from the point of view of tourism, entertainment and the economy. A minimum requirement for this to happen is the provision of adequate parking.
Housing for tourism workers
The tourism sector presents the greatest opportunity for growth in Jamaica. The present government has done a very good job in growing the sector and there are now 6,000 hotel rooms planned or under construction.
However, for every new hotel, you need housing for both temporary and permanent employees. We have fallen down badly in this regard and this leads to serious consequences, including squatter settlements, which, in turn, leads to increased crime and violence. It is important that we show respect for our hotel workers who are playing host to our foreign guests and allow them to live in decent homes while they pamper the guests.
All sectors of the economy are experiencing severe labour shortages since early 2022 when the economy started to come back. The tourism industry came back stronger and faster than expected and has put a big demand on getting back their workforce. The business processing and outsourcing (BPO) sector is growing and is nearing 60,000 employees. The manufacturing sector is finding it very difficult to find entry-level personnel and is losing trained workers to other sectors, including BPO.
There will be a significant demand for more workers in 2023 with:
a) Government’s effort to find overseas investors
b) Growth in the tourism sector
c) The planned increase in the police force
d) Needs for nurses and teachers.
The Government needs to identify a strategy to address this problem urgently including improving the performance of the HEART/NSTA Trust. Unless we have a clear plan to solve the labour shortage, we will find it difficult to grow the economy in the years to come.
Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association
Let’s steer Jamaica in the right direction
My hope and my prayer for Jamaica in 2023 is that the love of God and the peace that passeth all human understanding may rest and abide with us as a people who trust in the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to bless our land, and guide us with His mighty hand. And with this faith and trust in God, my hope is that we may become, once more – what obtained in our not-too-distant past – a society where each individual becomes his or her brother’s keeper, where the entire village brings up children to respect their elders and love their neighbours, and where women and children are respected and protected.
My hope is similar to that of one of America’s past presidents, George W. Bush, that we may become as a people a more gentle and caring society. A nation where order and discipline in the home, in the community, in the schools, and on the roads, becomes once again, a feature of national life. A society where our music and culture reflects this hope and points us in a different direction to the current lawlessness in our communities and chaos and general disorder on our roads.
We are a better people than what is currently being advertised abroad; the kind of behaviour that is triggering travel advisories in North America and the sustained use of states of emergency at home.
We can, with the help of Almighty God, steer this ship called Jamaica in a different direction. Let’s just do it in 2023!
DR LUCIEN JONES
National Road Safety Council
Seriously consider proposals by youth to better Jamaica
With the high murder rate that is plaguing our country, it is my hope that the Government of Jamaica will consider more youth involvement in crime fighting.
As part of the process, the youth who are entering the Jamaica Constabulary Force should receive training in polygraph testing and other areas of forensic discipline to combat some of the white-collar crimes, which threaten to national security.
Youth community development and intervention programmes which are geared towards creating an environment in which young people can achieve their ambitions without seeking illegal routes need to be initiated. Social interventions must include social security support for single-parent families, quality education at all levels, and training and employment opportunities.
A deeper look also needs to be taken at the unemployment rate of young people between the ages of 15 to 24, which is too high. Boosting youth employment will improve livelihoods, facilitate social mobility and help the country’s economic growth.
At the 13th sitting of the National Youth Parliament of Jamaica, youth leaders made significant recommendations on national issues such as affordable housing, parenting and education, psychological well-being, and financial literacy and have since submitted policy prescriptions, through the National Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica. It is our hope that the ministry will seriously consider these ideas to advance the development of our country. We, the members of the Youth Parliament of Jamaica, sincerely hope that our voices will not fall on deaf ears.
Youth Parliamentarian for St Elizabeth South Western