Sat | Apr 20, 2019

Show guts in crime fight - Mahfood

Published:Monday | January 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

The usual complaint that crime-fighting efforts in Jamaica are hampered by a lack of resources is being challenged by businessman John Mahfood, who is of the opinion that the problem really rests in the Government's lack of guts, and its failure to make bold decisions on crime.

While speaking with The Gleaner on Sunday, Mahfood, the chief executive officer of Jamaican Teas, also cast blame on the private sector, for its failure to mount pressure on the Government and insist that the crime monster be tamed.

"I've been calling on the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) to use their influence to call the Government and opposition together. They are the ones who fund elections and that is the thing that most inspires politicians. They do not use the power that they have to get things done, so they are partly to blame for the same problem affecting the economy. It is a very serious situation," said Mahfood.

"The people who pay them the money to be re-elected, those are the people who have power and those are the people who are not using it. All the big companies on the stock exchange pay massive amounts of money in political contributions. These organisations need to come together and put a strong position to the Government and Opposition, and say, unless you are able to come together and do this, we are going to withhold political contributions, or we are going to give it to the party that shows that it has a crime plan," he said.

One of the bold moves that Mahfood has proposed is channeling the roughly $45 billion currently held in dormant bank accounts locally towards tackling crime.

"(The Government) should discontinue refunding people National Housing Trust (NHT) funds, and take all of that money and put it to the purpose of crime fighting. Because they don't refund companies' NHT contributions and they only refund employee contributions. I would like to see them reduce the rate they charge employees, and stop refunding it, and put the billions they have sitting there for crime fighting. These are tough decisions, but you have to have guts to do it."