Reconstructing Jamaica for growth
Our nation is now in a critical position, and moving forward for the purpose of growth, there has to be innovative ideas. We have to now think outside the box! The nation is very good at talking but poor at implementing. The nation's focus and money have been wasted in the wrong areas and on the wrong things.
Many times, we will hear in the Budget presentations how many millions/billions are going towards development, but we are not seeing it in the end results! If the country is serious about change and accountability, then the time has come to create a new agency to monitor all government spending, contracts and infrastructural development.
For this agency, pull people from the various sectors of society - in particular from the private sector - lawyers, bankers, accountants and different ones drawn from the various facets in our communities. All this agency would do is scrutinise and investigate all the relevant documents and systems of operations and publish in the newspapers, their findings and receipts for all the things on which the government spent the taxpayers' funds. The purpose of this is for accountability and so that John Q. Public (great and small) will have a clear picture and understanding of what is going on in the area of government spending. Many times, we hear of how much money is being spent to improve the lives of the poor in our country but there is no evidence of that.
Another area of change needed is that more homes - state-of-the-art homes, too - must be built in each parish for housing children, particularly those who are being abused. What is so difficult about investing in re-opening the factories that have been closed down and start again to make the clothing and furniture, and engaging in a huge marketing campaign to bring awareness and quite possibly the interest of foreign buyers for our products?!
Before the nation's health industry crashes, we need to invest heavily in state-of-the-art equipment - not just focusing on the Kingston Public Hospital or the University Hospital, but focus also on hospitals in May Pen, Montego Bay, St Elizabeth, St Thomas, Portland, Mandeville, St Mary as well as Nuttall hospital. Revive and invest in the clinics within the communities and that will create jobs for many and help to alleviate the traffic into the hospitals.
The time has come to help small hotels and create major facelift and beautification, if we want to be and remain competitive globally.
How about building a bridge from Kingston Harbour to Port Royal - right across the sea?
Why not re-locate the Jamaica Defence Force's Coast Guard to St Thomas and turn the current building in Port Royal into a hospital - especially since a hospital is needed in that area?
Re: Port Royal, why not:
- Upgrade and equip the Port Royal Fire Station?
- Expand the police station in Port Royal; and instead of being marine police - relocate the marine police to St Thomas and have foot patrol and tourist police who dress in bandanna and not the regular red seam?
- Re-institute the ferry service?
- Set up a Wi-Fi Internet cafÈ with multifunctional copying equipment that the children can utilise?
- Build an entertainment centre with basketball court, lawn tennis court, food courts that can host culinary competitions, and have a place set up specifically for water sports, particularly for children?
- Set up conference halls and rooms for large and small conferences - whether faith-based or otherwise?
So Port Royal would be a 24-hour tourist area.
In addition to this:
- The entire Harbour View area needs a facelift
- Construct/rebuild a cinema for the Harbour View area.
- Transform the old Versair building into a 24-hour museum with food stalls along that strip, with a greater variety of our culinary creations - gourmet and international foods.
- Use J. F. Mills, the Cement Company and the General Penitentiary for field trips and charge a fee, which will go towards helping to maintain and sustain our children's homes.
- Why not re-vamp and expand the adult literacy programme through the joint efforts of the churches in the nation and the government, and include subjects like proper parenting, and grooming and etiquette?
- Agriculture, civics, information technology and having a uniformed group (Scouts, Girl Guides, 4-H Clubs, etc.) should be mandatory in all secondary schools.
There are so many things that can be done to make changes in and for the nation at low costs. Furthermore, we cannot afford to divest anymore of our nation, particularly our historical sites! Divestment is an act of laziness and it sends the message that we are incapable of managing our own resources.
- Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.