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No lasting cure for crime

Published:Tuesday | September 13, 2016 | 9:00 AMJovan Johnson
Metry Seaga
Morin Seymour with the book which speaking to the relationship between the public and private sector at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

Private-sector players in Jamaica say they cannot be blamed for the lack of investment in downtown Kingston, the historic city area that has been suffering from blight over many decades.

"I'm not going to be willing to make the private sector keep taking the blame," Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, declared at a recent Editors' Forum at The Gleaner's North Street offices.

"The private sector does not have the ability to change laws. The Government has to take responsibility," he said. "We keep blaming the private sector, saying the Government put the things in place and the private sector must take it up. We need one person, somebody - a driver."

gov't must lead

Stephen Facey, who is leading his Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Limited in a $385-million investment in downtown, said the Government and its agencies must lead in partnership with the private sector.

"Private sectors never fail. As a private-sector committee, I'm driven by one thing, which is to make a profit and provide a return for my shareholders. If something doesn't happen as a result of what the Government has done, you can't say, 'Look, we did something and the private sector failed'," he said.

"It (Government) has to go and ask itself the question, 'What is it about what we put on the table that didn't produce the desired result?' Come and talk to the private sector. As individuals, we do the things that we feel are beneficial to us, companies are no different. There are a lot of factors; money is one, safety [and] perception (are others)."

Meanwhile, Morin Seymour, the executive director of the Kingston Restoration Company, believes that the political authorities must lead and create the space for the private sector to invest in the area.

That leadership, he said, involves managing the city to ensure that crime and violence - critical push factors - are brought under control.

The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation has insisted that the private sector has a key role to play in the drive to restore the downtown area to its old glory with a modern touch.

"The partnership works both ways and needs a further examination," Robert Hill, the city's town clerk said.