Crime hurting MoBay – Moreno
With western Jamaica leading the country's murder statistics, United States Ambassador to Jamaica Luis Moreno has warned that this could cause potential investors to shy away for Montego Bay, St James, despite the business opportunities in that city.
According to Moreno, more needs to be done to support the anti-crime strategies of the security forces.
"One of my top goals in my tenure here as US ambassador is to increase US investment and trade in Jamaica," Moreno said, while giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Expo 2015 last Friday.
"Jamaica receives more US citizens than any (other) country in the Caribbean. A lot of these people come as tourists, but we want them to be more than tourists, we want to have businessmen, we want to have investors.
"Tourists are good, tourists are good for the economy here in Montego Bay (and) Jamaica (but) we want businessmen as well," added Moreno.
He argued that with billions of dollars being injected into the Jamaican economy by US firms over many years, and with commitments for millions more on the horizon, the fight against crime has to be everybody's business.
"We have to be realistic; we have to know that without a safe, stable and secure environment, we are going to have trouble getting more investment so we can't ignore security.
"Crime, especially violent crimes, is a deterrent to both local and foreign investments. For this reason, the US-Jamaica partnership in law enforcement is vitally important to sustain growth and prosperity in Montego Bay and across Jamaica."
With the illicit lottery scam being blamed for the increase in murders in western Jamaica since the start of the year, Moreno charged that this needs urgent attention.
"Lottery scamming is something that does tremendous damage to both Jamaica and the US," said the ambassador.
"What we have to do is start with our children and say to them, 'Lottery scamming is not cool, it's not Robin Hood, it's not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor'.
"The people that are being victimised by lottery scam are from the most vulnerable part of society. They are older people, they are people living on their pension, they are sick people, they are maybe people suffering from diminished capacity and they are being taken advantage of by these people. This is not right and we have to teach our people that this is not right," he said.