Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Jamaica in danger - Seaga urges social partnership to fight crime, says lawlessness a serious economic threat

Published:Thursday | February 16, 2017 | 2:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Metry Seaga (left), president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), outlines the growth agenda for the organisation during yesterday’s press conference in downtown Kingston. Also pictured are Richard Pandohie (centre), chief executive officer of SEPROD, and Jason Dear, secretary of the JMA.
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Lamenting the increase in violent crimes and other unlawful activities in Jamaica, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) Metry Seaga is making an urgent call for a social partnership to fight crime.

The no-nonsense JMA head said the Government, Opposition, civil society and the private sector should come together to develop a crime plan.

"It cannot work any other way. If we do not come together and develop a crime plan that is all of Jamaica's crime plan, we are going to have divisiveness among us, and it will not work," he declared yesterday at a press briefing at JMA's headquarters on Duke Street, Kingston.

Discussing the importance of engaging the various stakeholders in the country on the issue of crime, Seaga said there has to be large scale buy-in from the various sectors in order for the crime plan to reap success.

"Once we have buy-in, we call on the prime minister to quickly re-establish the crime and justice reform commission that was headed by Howard Mitchell," he stated.

He suggested that the new commission could take a similar approach to its predecessor by interacting with members of the public by providing updates on a monthly basis on its efforts to reduce crime.

 

COSTING BILLIONS

 

Seaga told journalists that the spiralling crime rate presents a clear and present danger to the country. He contended that the crime problem was driving up the cost of doing business in Jamaica and was also leading to capital flight and loss of foreign investment.

According to the JMA boss, the direct annual cost of crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean was estimated at US$261 billion or 3.55 per cent of the gross domestic product.

"As a people, we must remain resolute in our intolerance of these deviant behaviours and must join in a collective effort to send a strong message condemning atrocities that are sullying the name of Jamaica," he charged.

Under pressure from critics and members of the public over a spike in murders, particularly against women, the Andrew Holness administration recently announced measures to crack down on the perpetrators of domestic violence.

Last week, Holness and Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte told journalists at a press conference at Jamaica House that the police have been directed to start detaining persons who display serious aggression in domestic violence flare-ups as part of attempts to de-escalate the situation.

Another measure being pursued by the authorities is the removal of tints from all registered public passenger vehicles.

Since the announcement of the latest crime-prevention measures, there have been extensive public debate over the legality of detaining persons in certain instances.

However, Malahoo Forte had acknowledged that while the measures were likely to stir debate, the administration was satisfied that they conformed with the country's laws.

Efforts to reach National Security Minister Robert Montague for comment on the JMA's suggestions were unsuccessful.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com