Is Jamaica the place of choice to live by 2030?
This is an open letter to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
THE EDITOR, Sir:
As a group of young leaders we express our concerns of and disappointment in the management of our country by your administration.
In a country where citizens' constitutional rights are continually violated, especially by those who are paid to manage and lead, the rate of culpability remains at the lowest point of the accountability pendulum. For more than 10 years we have had fires at the Riverton dump and although residents in and around its environs suffer both physically and emotionally no one has been held accountable.
In addition to our environmental woes, the level of crime and violence is frightening. Within the last three months, more than 200 Jamaicans have been killed, including more
than 20 children, and to date the bloodletting of the youth continues. In January, National Security Minister Peter Bunting cautioned the nation not to be alarmed, then in March said that things were getting back to normal. One person dying brutally is one too many for us and this is a "back-to-normal" that we refuse to accept.
The National Youth Values and Attitude survey conducted by the UWI, indicated that 49.3 per cent of youths sampled ages 14-25 stated that they would be willing to give up their Jamaican citizenship. If this does not alarm you, then our future is cloudier than the thick smoke billowing from the Riverton dump. The blatant disregard for citizens' health, safety and social well-being is evident in
the lackadaisical inaction of your administration and begs the question, is Jamaica the place of choice to live by 2030?
For most of our lives, your administration has governed this country, with not much to show where good governance is concerned. According to STATIN, unemploy-ment rates as at October 2014 among youth ages 14-19 was 49 per cent,
20-25 was 33.2 per cent while 25-65 average approximately 6.6 per cent. These figures are indicative of the difficulty encountered by university graduates in gaining suitable employ-ment and secondary-school graduates who cannot afford the exorbitant university fees.
Research indicates that more than 40 per cent of households are headed by females and these households have twice the number of children and adult females than two-parent households. In 2014, the unemploy-ment rate for women was 19.4 per cent - almost twice that of men, 9.9 per cent - hence the state of single-female-headed households.
Your administration boasts about passing IMF targets and projecting growth, yet most Jamaicans can hardly afford to buy food. It is no secret that for decades Jamaica has been struggling with low growth and high public debt, evident in the World Bank 2014 report which stated, that Jamaica is one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world. We are cognisant that a high crime rate puts immense strain on the economy of any country. High unemployment, spiralling crime rate, stagnant economy, corruption, high debt, inefficient public sector, and the tight fiscal space begs another question, can Jamaica really be the place of choice to work and do business by 2030?
Jamaica suffers from the disease of absentee fathers and this affects the family negatively. Children are not allowed to be children, instead they are labourers, mothers/caregivers, sex workers/sex slaves.
You seem to be disconnected from what is happening in the country and as a result you go to bat for your ministers/appointed heads of agencies despite their ineptness in serving the people and in the capacity/ministry they are placed. We the youths of this nation believe in second chances and, therefore, we are calling on you to put actions to words, starting with the following actions:
n Open NSWMA board selection process to non-partisan individuals who want Jamaica to grow. Potential candidates for the post of executive director should have at least a first degree in engineering as well as skills/experience in waste management.
n Increase the budget for the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health within the constraints of the IMF agreement.
n Instruct Minister Pickersgill, Minister Arscott and the NSWMA to initiate an active campaign for recycling and eliminate the disposal of recyclable material at the dump sites.
n Place greater emphasis and a nationwide education campaign on nuclear family life and its importance to nation building and healthier lifestyle.
K. CAMPBELL, A. SAMUELS
L. HARRISON, N. HENRY
J. BERNARD, V. THOMPSON
J. S., C. S, D. MILLS