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Revive Operation Pride to grow economy - MP

Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 9:00 AMDaraine Luton

Disappointed that suggestions he made a year ago in Parliament about how to get the economy going were ignored, West Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament (MP) Paul Buchanan has made a call for a mechanism to be put in place for the examination of proposals made on the floor of the House of Representatives.

"Every year, we present ideas on this illusive growth, but it seems that our offers are confined to the archives of Hansard," Buchanan said.

The first-term MP said that it is the responsibility of all legislators to offer suggestions towards the critical imperative of economic growth and called for the mechanism to reexamine and filter the suggestions that have been advanced.

Buchanan said on Tuesday that he was convinced that some of the suggestions advanced, if implemented, could lead to higher rates of growth in the economy.

Contributing to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House, Buchanan said that one way to grow the economy is by restarting the Operation PRIDE programme, which was the subject of a massive scandal during the 1990s.

Admitting that his proposal is "controversial", Buchanan, former head of Operation PRIDE, said there are approximately 45,000 lots of lands owned by the State that can be used under a restarted PRIDE programme.

"We need to move away from the deeds of men who did wrong and focus on the positives of the Pride programme," Buchanan said.

A low-income housing concept introduced by the P.J. Patterson administration of the 1990s, Operation PRIDE was bedevilled by allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the now-defunct National Housing Development Corporation.

see positive in project

But Buchanan said the country was focusing on the ills of the programme to its detriment.

"We need to find a way to bring more people into the economic power of land capital. Look at the capital gain at the Pines of Karachi," he said of the development which was sold to a wide cross-section of mainly professionals, including policemen, soldiers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, civil servants, nurses, and judges.

"Look at the property tax potential of all those other sites islandwide. Look at the upward social mobility of beneficiaries, who have moved from one social class to a next within one generation because of the power of land capital, and let us restart the process on a more solid and transparent foundation," Buchanan said.

The West Rural St Andrew MP also used his presentation to call for legislation to allow the local authorities such as the parish council to offer municipal bonds.

"Almost every major city is allowed to issue municipal bonds," Buchanan said, as he pushed the case for bond offerings, which would, among other things, be low inflationary.

"My councillor, Gareth Walker, has reminded me that 60 per cent of the roads in West Rural St Andrew come under the KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation). Based on the level of repairs needed, it would take at least 20 years to complete all of them," the MP said.

According to Buchanan, following the two debt exchanges, blue-chip fund managers are more attractive to the market than government guarantee.

"You could conceivably float a bond with a moratorium on principal, apply a sinking fund on a prompt interest payment facility, without government guarantee, which would allow local government an immediate flow of funds of at least 40 per cent of the issue," he reasoned.

Buchanan also called for a special unit to be established to deal with the rehabilitation of farm roads.