Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Ronald Mason | The choice is ours

Published:Sunday | January 1, 2017 | 1:00 AM

The news report stated: "Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Jamaican Government will not be going ahead with plans to develop a trans-shipment port and industrial park on Goat Islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area.

"The development comes only days after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published the Government's Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, which said that the administration was pressing ahead with the project.

"Speaking in New York on Thursday night, September 22, 2016, Holness said that while a trans-shipment project is under consideration, it would not be on the Goat Islands."

In the document that the Government submitted to the IMF signed off by Audley Shaw, Page 2, Section 24 states as follows:

"The development of a transshipment port and industrial and commercial zones in the Portland Bight area by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is ongoing. Technical feasibility studies for the project have commenced. This is a prerequisite for determining the construction methodology and for obtaining the terms of reference from NEPA for the Environmental Impact Assessment."

So, where will this trans-shipment port and industrial complex zone be? Just let it hang, nothing concrete.

Another news report stated:

"Finance Minister Audley Shaw will ask Cabinet to approve an increase in property tax as part of plans to fund the cost of the second tranche of the income tax give-back promised to 252,000 taxpayers earning up to $1.5 million annually."

 

EMPTY PROMISES

 

In the run-up to the general election held on February 25, 2016, the JLP promised a pie-in-the-sky tax relief package with no co-related tax increase. The plan later shepherded an increase in fuel tax, heavy oil tax, departure tax and cigarette tax to cover the cost. This was for the first segment. Here comes the second segment. They will now move the exemption threshold from $1 million to $1.5 million by April 2017 at a cost of 0.8 per cent of the gross domestic product. We the people face an increase in property tax. Suddenly, this is being sold as a 'give and take' situation. What is this really, but another set of lies?

The JLP has so marginalised the fight against crime that the police commissioner is leaving after only two years. They cannot find money to equip the force with necessities. They continue to permit the promotion of officers who would propose life imprisonment for possession of an illegal firearm and not seek the death penalty as an operational crime deterrent. Wishing police personnel a merry Christmas and commiserating that they are unappreciated is not a strategy. If Robert Montague is out of his zone of competence then he should leave the job.

When Delroy chuck was in opposition, he would write columns and make calls to call-in programmes on how the template to effect hanging could be utilised. What has happened, now that he is minister of justice? What messages do we, as a society, send when in 54 years of Independence with a dramatic increase in criminal activity there have been no new prisons built? Is it because it is poor black people killing poor black relatives?

Then comes the Church. They want to be provided with tax dollars to go forth and preach the gospel. What utter rubbish!

The society is riddled with corruption in every strata. Discipline is a universal trait not applicable to Singapore and Cuba alone.

 

BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION

 

As we head into a new year, the most pressing national problem is the criminal activity that stalks the land. All who call for with the root causes have rarely focused on the parent-child relationship. Parenting comes with distinct obligations and responsibilities. Some of us are old enough to remember a radio commercial that said "It is 8 p.m., do you know where your children are?" This is a loaded question. Do you know where your children are, or do you know who they are with? Do you know at all what age your child is sufficiently developed to earn additional privileges and exercise independent judgement? You cannot develop a society where men take pride in getting large numbers of children and women believe they must have out their lot when they cannot economically or emotionally care for one much less two.

We cannot legislate morality, but we can influence behaviour modification through legislation. Mothers must be required to place fathers' names on birth certificates and fathers must be obliged to pay child support. Failure to live up to these basic tenets of parental responsibility must lead to prosecution. Non-attendance at school every day, except for verifiable changes in circumstances, must also be offences leading to prosecution. This indiscriminate abandonment of the role of parent leads to criminal behaviour at a later date. The choice is ours. The leaders are compromised.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com