Fri | Aug 18, 2017

DISAPPOINTING! - PNP & JLP manifestos short of real meat for young Jamaicans

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 2:00 AM
PNP President, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, going through the party’s 2016 Manifesto at the launch last week.
JLP leader Andrew Holness speaking at the launch of the party’s manifesto last Thursday.
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Since the People's National Party (PNP) refused to participate in the scheduled electoral debates, we figured that we would allow the public to decide how well each party comes down on youth issues.

The council considered berating our leaders for not being able to rise above, take a hit for the greater good, and set aside personal issues so as to address the public in a critical setting that probed their intentions.

It is better to look bad in a debate because of a poor policy idea than to make the country poor by implementing bad policy. This is why carrying the issues to a critical moderator, acting on behalf of the public, is so valuable.

However, to add yet another opinion piece to this circus would only serve as a running commentary to the antics and would still leave our democracy weakened for the lack of critical discussion.

So instead, we're going to talk about the issues. Before we look at the manifestos as it relates to youth, let us first define what beneficial policies look like to the Gleaner Youth Council.

Education: Policies have to diversify the future workforce according to our actual level of development.

Representation and rights: Policies have to take seriously the importance of youth representation as well as the inter-sectionality of vulnerable groups in our cohort.

Employment: Means steady, long-term jobs or developmental, entry-level employment for young people to start out in the workforce and gain skills.

Entrepreneurship: Policies must entail the facilitation of Jamaicans who want to pursue their passions with the chance to accumulate wealth.

Environmental: Policy has to take very seriously the impact that climate change will have on the younger generations.

Anti-corruption and constitution: Policies are deemed to be processes that enforce accountability in public servants and allow for full and fair participation in the political process rather than allowing power to consolidate.

Main Positions:

EDUCATION

JLP: Find new funding sources for student loans to be more manageable for responsible borrowers; remove mandatory fees by increasing the allocation per child; create a central repository for education materials online; ensure true universal access to Internet for government and educational facilities

PNP: Eliminate shift schools; widen school-feeding programme; eradicate pit latrines; provide 500 scholarships in 2016 to teachers' colleges in math, science, and vocational areas. Ten thousand youth to receive mentorship and training over the next three years in new employment-opportunities initiative (NEO); 2D and 3D animation courses to be implemented. Create a mega-training facility to train those with disabilities for employment.

YOUTH REPRESENTATION & RIGHTS

JLP: Create youth advisory councils for ministries responsible for youth and education. Provide technical and financial assistance for youth groups (like NSSC, JUTS, JYAP, NYCJ); establish human-rights commission dedicated solely to issues of civil liberties; provide shelters for victims of domestic violence appropriate for children; revive the 'Possibility Programme' for street children; link all Youth Information Centres to provide standardised services; revitalise the Youth Parliament.

PNP: Youth Empowerment and Reintegration Programme for psychosocial issues among youth. National Youth Policy to be published. Strengthen penalties for violence against children. Develop a parenting programme to instil values. All new buildings to be wheelchair-accessible; aim to create Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, as well as a tribunal for discrimination cases. Establish four shelters for victims of gender-based violence.

EMPLOYMENT & ECONOMY

JLP: One ministry for all jobs and growth-related matters, with a subsection dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses (SME). Stimulate growth through housing, energy, and water infrastructure construction; raise minimum wage to $8,200 per week; remove PAYE for income less than $1.5 million. Introduce eHOME to allow people to work from home, thereby improving efficiency, digitisation of government records through National Apprenticeship Programme. Growth triangle of housing, energy, and water deemed to provide 5,000 jobs in first year; 10,000 over five years; another 5,000 for solar panel works; 15,000-25,000 jobs in transportation; 20,000 in manufacturing; 20,000 in SME expansion, etc.

PNP: Ten thousand youth-specific jobs in the next five years and an overall 100,000 new jobs. Forty thousand jobs expected in tourism. Increase jobs by 46,500 from 2012 to 2015; expect BPOs to double in the next three to five years from 18,000 jobs to 36,000 jobs.

Entrepreneurship

JLP: Capacity-building for SMEs, provide access to credit through Development Bank of Jamaica, Technology Innovation Fund; expand funds available for Jamaica Youth Business Trust; establish youth business incubators; infuse entrepreneurial studies and financial literacy into school curriculum from primary up; strengthen training programmes addressing unattached youth.

PNP: Assistance getting land as collateral for loans to start businesses; establishment of a credit bureau to help build credit history; equity financing through the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme and angel investors. Local government to provide investment in small businesses and individuals with sustainable projects. Provide training and capacity-building and Development Bank of Jamaica investment.

ENVIRONMENT

Growth triangle of houses, energy, and water. Houses must be built to harvest rainwater; loans for solar energy to be provided to businesses and households; enforce efficiency standards; begin waste-separation programme in public sector and electronic-waste policy for cell phones and TVs; make Cockpit Country a no-mining zone; make partnerships with the United States to distribute liquefied natural gas in the Americas in order to diversify our energy consumption; deep drilling to create passageway for water from the north to the more dry southern areas of the island.

PNP: Create watershed management unit; implement waste-to-energy project; invest US$1.2b for 17 potable water projects with NWC; US$750m to update sewage system; US$200m on renewable energy over 18 months; green business certification programme in three to five years; more stringent policies on where and what developments are allowed; pursue liquefied natural gas trade; change over street lights to LED; develop National Agency for Climate Change Resilience to develop strategies against global warming.

ANTI-CORRUPTION & CONSTITUTION

JLP: Establish smaller core ministries in constitution and limit additions; automate governmental systems to cut down on bureaucracy; National ID with lifetime number in order to simplify tax and benefit collection as well as fraud prevention; mandatory disclosure of integrity reports for prime minister, leader of opposition, and minister of finance; appointment of sensitive posts like chief justice and governor of Bank of Jamaica to be decided by two-thirds majority of Parliament; auditor general, and other such reports, to be debated within 30 days of submission to Parliament; revise Jamaica's role in CARICOM so as to address complaints by manufacturers and others regarding the power imbalance.

PNP: To centralise the anti-corruption agencies into one governmental body; push for Caribbean Court of Justice to be the final court of appeals; pursue removing the monarch in order to become a full republic.

SUMMATION

In all there, are pros and cons to both manifestos. The PNP seems very determined to continue on the path of big multinational foreign investment, whereas the JLP does not clearly indicate from where funding for all of its programmes would come.

Furthermore, the preposterous number of jobs proposed with 'fifty-kajillion' on the way by February '30', makes it difficult to imagine.

While one proposal leans on the international world, the other leans on the future financial security of the people, with student and business loans, despite the fact that most SMEs fail in their first few years and mortgage crises have been known to topple bigger economies than ours.

However, many of the social and environmental policies of the JLP are favourable, including, a youth Parliament and youth consultation, despite the fact that some youth groups already receive governmental support.

The importance of sustainability can be felt in this manifesto, and the Green Triangle would be much more inspiring if we could better imagine where the funding would come from without added debt.

Meanwhile, the PNP's manifesto has not matured a great deal since 2011's. That said, when it comes to realistic, time-bound goals, you can tell that the PNP has already planned for a victory.

But much of PNP policy is indistinguishable from the projects for which NGOs lobby and into which they put funds. Many of these advances could be the simple function of being the party in charge.

It would be great if we had the time to go through the many doubts and concerns both plans put forth. How does the PNP feel about preserving the Cockpit Country? How does the JLP intend to pay for the many investments promises it makes?

Does the PNP have concerns about the health of our political system if the JLP voices so many anti-corruption complaints? Does the PNP take climate change as seriously as the JLP, or does that party intend to keep on planning to do a study on what climate change might look like in Jamaica? Hint: It's drought and hurricanes of far more epic proportions.

Still, we won't be getting anything of the sort. And that means that everybody loses.

Join the conversation with #YDebate and tell us your view on what you would like to know from your future representatives! #KlickItUp

This week's council members are Latresha Hall, Husoni Raymond, Akime Edwards, Delion Bowes, Dervin Osbourne, Orville Levy, Tina Renier, Elton Johnson & Aleya Jobson