Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Why you should vote JLP

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 2:00 AM

It is readily understood that political organisation and communication are vital to electoral success. Out of respect for the people, the Jamaica Labour Party has been communicating with them and has been a voice on every national issue over the past four years: bad gas, UK prison deal, the chikungunya outbreak, ABM withdrawal tax proposal, dead babies scandal, Riverton dump fire, and the botched 380MW energy project saga, to name a few.

More important, it is our unwavering commitment to improve the lives of the people of Jamaica that we have been actively engaged in the search for solutions. Let me explain more for those who ask what the JLP will do differently, or why they should vote for the JLP.

Upon taking office, a new JLP government will establish a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. This ministry will be charged with ensuring that investments are rapidly facilitated to avoid government obstacles, such as one agency giving approval to mine sand for the construction of a hotel and another agency placing a stop order on the activity. It will cultivate public-private partnership to bring to life economic opportunities and provide integrated logistical support and coordination of resources to minimise red tape and make government operations more efficient.

Currency stability

We will stabilise the exchange rate because the PNP's policy of devaluation has been destroying the productive sector, with our manufacturers suffering a lot, since many of them require imported goods as inputs in their operations. Currency stability will put our producers and businesses in a position to produce more, generate growth, make greater investments, and provide more jobs.

The JLP will put the National Housing Trust (NHT) to work and creatively use the resources sitting at the NHT to significantly increase the construction of houses. This will stimulate activities in the construction sector and provide jobs for a number of Jamaicans especially since semi-skilled and low-skilled workers stand to be employed. Our commitment to again reducing stamp duty and transfer taxes will also stimulate activity in the real estate and construction sectors, countering the present government's move to increase those rates, thus making transactions more costly and discouraging many who wish to start a development.

Many Jamaicans have been working hard and contributing to the NHT and have either not qualified for or been able to access a benefit. This is unfair to them and should not continue. The JLP will implement what is called intergenerational mortgages - mortgages that span 50 or 60 years, allowing an offspring to join with a parent in accessing a benefit from the NHT. Such beneficiaries would pay a mortgage over a longer period, thus making homeownership more accessible to them and affordable.

In July 2015, Andrew Holness announced a plan to address unemployment and the hopelessness that grips our young people at this time by meaningfully engaging more than 15,000 of them who are not in school or currently in a job.

Separate and apart from creating an economic environment that will attract much more investments and generate sustained growth, the JLP will implement a National Apprenticeship Programme where participants will undergo skills training and benefit from on-the-job experience, and a National Service Programme, where young people will be engaged in assisting with the modernisation and automation of the government service. While the core of the National Apprenticeship Programme and the National Service Programme exists at the HEART/NTA and the National Youth Service (NYS), respectively, the JLP's initiative is aimed at making them universally accessible to all our young people in a coordinated way.

Public service

Under the National Service Programme, the JLP will train our young people in the skills and competencies that support emerging industries like business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, and give them experience and a stipend in areas of public service that match their abilities while benefiting the Government.

Under the National Service Programme, young people will be trained in data entry and document management, and thereafter be engaged to digitise all government documents and records. Government will benefit from the efficiencies associated with digitisation and our young people will get a stipend and practical experience to prepare them for full employment. .

The JLP recognises that what Jamaica has is a water-management and distribution problem; not a water availability problem. We are committed to resuming our programme of investing in large water systems, which was undertaken between 2007 and 2011 and proved beneficial to Agualta Vale, Mason River, and Essex Valley, and rebuilding the plants at Constant Spring, Stony Hill, Mona and the Bog Walk gorge.

It is by investing in large water systems and repairing deteriorated pipelines that we will significantly reduce the water being wasted and bring the precious commodity for domestic and agricultural purposes. An example of this is the JLP's plan to harness water from the Black River by putting in place the infrastructure to take water to the plains of St Elizabeth.

Immediately upon forming Government, we will restore the benefits under the Junior Stock Exchange which the current PNP Government has ended. The Junior Stock Exchange was designed to assist small and medium-sized businesses access equity financing so they could improve and expand their business operations. Jamaica can be proud of the success stories that have come out of the Junior Stock Exchange, as we have seen such companies as: LASCO, Knutsford Express, Access Financial, and Derrymore Trading Company do well as a result of it. What the PNP's decision to discontinue the incentives under the Junior Stock Exchange does is prove yet again that the PNP has no appreciation for how a market economy works and how government can use the tools available to it to stimulate business development and economic growth.

Young people should vote Prosperity because the JLP will reform the Student Loans Bureau (SLB) by reducing interest rates on loans, increase the capitalisation of the SLB, and move towards income-contingent loans. Compliance levels among beneficiaries will improve and the monthly repayments will be more manageable and affordable.

Combined, these are just a few of the reasons why Jamaicans should choose prosperity and vote JLP on February 25.

• Marlon Morgan is deputy opposition spokesman on agriculture and aide to Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and marlonandremorgan@gmail.com.