Letter of the Day | Establish National Crime Council
THE EDITOR, Sir:
A letter writer in The Gleaner (May 23, 2016) made the bold suggestion that crime-fighting targets should be part of our International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreements, whereby Jamaica could also tap into technical assistance and expertise from the IMF and partners and try to meet specific goals and targets to fight this monster called crime.
I thought this was an interesting suggestion, especially if some of our loans could be specifically geared towards fighting crime. Although the IMF primarily provides loans and funding to stimulate economic growth, the ability to pay these back will always be critical to the lender and borrower alike. Other factors will affect our loan-repayment ability, which will not be hinged solely on economic performance, but other triggers influencing economic development - crime being a major deterrent.
Recently, it was announced that the new Holness Government appointed Michael Lee-Chin to chair the Economic Growth Council (EGC). This was indeed welcome news and a sign of hope. I urge the Government to also consider a similar council to examine and find innovative and bold initiatives to tackle crime, set benchmarks, solicit resources and ensure implementation.
Such a council should be non-governmental and serve as an advisory board to all interest groups, including the minister responsible, the commissioner of police, and the army chief, as well as the private sector, community groups, church leaders, etc. No one person can be responsible, nor will any one have all the ideas, so such a council could have members from all the interest groups.
For too long, crime has strangled our country's development, and law-abiding citizens have been held hostage. Many of these crimes have left us at a loss for words. When news of crime spread internationally, the impact on tourism, an industry we rely on greatly for foreign income, is affected negatively.
NEW IDEAS NEEDED
We must tackle crime now, from every angle possible, with bold and innovative ideas. We cannot just focus on bringing criminals to justice, but explore preventative measures, the root causes, and find ways to implement initiatives to counteract the causes with special focus on at-risk and marginalised youths.
With the five per cent annual GDP growth target set by Lee-Chin and the EGC, we must realise that this will be extremely difficult to attain in an environment where crime soars out of control, with barbaric murders daily, fostering a climate of fear.
Economic prosperity and spreading of wealth won't be enough to fight crime. We have to overhaul the culture and mindset and encourage national and civic pride, where people value and respect other peoples lives and properties. I've always believed, that culture, the arts and sports could be far reaching and cost-effective tools available at our fingertips, which could be used to provide a distraction to at-risk individuals, and also provide employment, entertainment, and give a boost our leisure activities and idle time.
We need more cultural, artistic and sporting events and activities. Without doubt, this could also help to train minds to be more productive and less disruptive.