Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Letter of the Day | Still mum and dumb on effective crime plan

Published:Tuesday | February 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Some persons may be heartened by the relatively small increase in the budget for national security of $8 billion to $78.5 billion. My expectation would have been that the Government would have used the opportunity to roll out a comprehensive crime plan that would have supported the required expenditure, rather than simply making an incremental approach to the Budget.

For instance, they provided $1.1 billion for additional motor vehicles for the police. By my estimate, this will provide approximately 440 new vehicles if you assume an average cost of US$20,000 per vehicle. Even without a comprehensive crime plan, most people would realise that this is obviously far from adequate.

Having just completed 2017 as one of the most violent year in our history and 2018 starting off even worse, you would think that the Government would be galvanised into action.

The police are unable to roll out further ZOSOs, as they have been stuck in the first two and cannot leave because they have not achieved their intended task. What about the other 17 areas identified as requiring ZOSO? When, if ever, will they be put in place?

The Government rightly instituted a state of emergency in St James (renaming it 'enhanced security measures' because they had lost control. Neither ZOSO nor the state of emergency is a crime plan. Much more is needed in order to put us on the path to a sustained reduction in crime.

Let us remember that the serious crime problem does not only mean death and despair to the Jamaican people, but it seriously retards investment and growth in the economy.

The high crime rate is directly linked to the Government's continual failure to achieve its five-in-four programme. I cannot believe that all those really smart persons on the Economic Growth Council cannot either see the link or can't convince Mr Holness of the cause and effect.

Economists talk about the fact that the high crime rate retards our growth rate by five per cent per year, which equates to $91 billion in lost opportunity to the Jamaican people. I can only assume that those are just numbers and the reality still has not sunk in to the Government and its advisers.

One of the easy fixes was to go after tax cheats who own rental properties but don't pay taxes on the income. Is it that they and their friends would be hurt by this initiative?

The Government continues to be silent on the matter of developing a believable comprehensive crime plan. They have not even thought it appropriate to comment on the departure of the commissioner of police and their approach to his replacement. I believe that they think that the less they speak about their plans, they won't be held accountable.

I am once again asking that the leading private-sector groups and unions come together and insist on the Government to act.

JOHN MAHFOOD

john.mahfood@yahoo.com