High expectations loom in MoBay
With three of its members of parliament (MP) in the newly formed Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration, critical stakeholders in Montego Bay are envisaging an immediate halt to the city's flagging sphere of influence as a premier economic centre.
In fact, based on their campaign promises in the lead-up to the 2016 general election, it is expected that the three cabinet members, Dr Horace Chang (North West St. James), Marlene Malahoo Forte (West Central St. James) and Edmund Bartlett (East Central St. James), will deliver as much goodies as is humanly possible.
"We will be investing heavily in the training of our young people ... we really need to restore their hope," Dr. Chang, told a JLP rally in Granville, St. James, last year. "We intend to bring real change to the lives of the many bright young people out there, who just need a chance to unleash their potential."
While new jobs have been emerging in the booming business processing outsourcing (BPO) and tourism, Chang, who is a Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister; Malahoo Forte, the nation?s new Attorney General; and Bartlett, who is back as Minister of Tourism, must move quickly to address the rampant youth unemployment, which is compounded by the large number of young people who are unemployable because of a lack of training.
One area that holds much promise is the ambitious multibillion dollar Montego Bay Action Plan, which is expected to throw open the doors to new developments, create youth employment opportunities and reignite the fading passion for entrepreneurship
"One significant component of the Montego Bay Action Plan is its capacity to create employment and training opportunities," said Montego Bay's mayor, Councillor Glendon Harris.
With the dubious distinctions of being the hub of the infamous Lottery Scam and the equally distasteful tag of being the nation?s crime capital, stakeholders in Montego Bay are anxious to find ways to empower the young people so that they can be steered towards legitimate endeavours.
Last year, a seemingly frustrated Lloyd B. Smith, who was then the MP for Central St. James, caused a few eyebrows to be raised when he suggested that monies seized from lottery scammers should be funnelled into the education system as a way creating new education opportunities.
"I am saying, yes, the money may be tainted, but it is already out there. So, why not use some of it for a good purpose," said Smith, who was roundly chastised for the suggestion. "Out of evil cometh good, and I make no apology for that assertion."
It is therefore of paramount importance that Dr Chang, Malahoo Forte and Bartlett guide the process of finding creative ways to exploit all the possibilities that exist in the Montego Bay Action Plan, the BPO sector and tourism.