JEEP full of jobs
- Portia reveals PNP employment initiative
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
CHARGING THAT things have never been so bad in the country, People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller yesterday outlined a raft of job-creation initiatives which she declared would restore hope to the nation.
Included in the promises made by Simpson Miller from the platform of the PNP at its 73rd annual conference at the National Arena are massive tax incentives and the provision of resources for the establishment of new industries.
The promises have been packaged in a job-creation initiative called Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
"There is an urgency in the air, the people ready for action, action is now required," Simpson Miller told a massive crowd former party President P.J. Patterson described as a PNP tsunami.
The PNP says it has designed a national intervention programme, an element of which would address the problem of employment.
The programme, which appears to be a flashback to the JLP's undelivered 2007 electoral promise of jobs, jobs and more jobs, is to target six key areas of the economy - agro-processing, cultural and creative industries including sports, micro and small business development, manufacturing, community transformational projects, and information communication technology.
"The JLP government would love to keep it a secret that almost 100,000 persons have lost their jobs over the four years that the JLP government has been in power," Simpson Miller said.
The PNP president, in outlining the elements of JEEP which she said her administration would implement, included funding for micro and small-business development.
She also promised tax incentives for small businesses which create jobs regardless of the sector of the economy.
"We need to move away from the incentives which distort investment decisions and create an uneven playing field," Simpson Miller said.
She promised that a PNP government would give a five-year tax holiday for all start-up businesses to encourage entrepreneurship. Simpson Miller said the PNP would strengthen small-business incubators to increase support
"Imagine if most companies added one job to the economy. Imagine what that would mean for employment, sales tax and revenue. The question of funding will be raised. This is about priorities. We need to decide whether we prioritise production and export or consumption and imports," she said.
Centred around partnership
Noting that the success of JEEP was dependent on collaboration with the nation's stakeholders, Simpson Miller said it was necessary that partnership and consultation be at the centre of the initiative.
"This is a national call to action. This is the most important project that everyone in this country - big business, small business, workers, trade unions, NGOs, professionals and churches - must participate in," the PNP president said.
"We know that this can be done. There is no challenge so difficult that together as a people we Jamaicans cannot surmount," she added.
Simpson Miller's PNP has expressed confidence in unseating Bruce Golding's Jamaica Labour Party government which took power in 2007. The next general election is due by latest December 2012.
Pointing to unemployment being measured at 20 per cent last year, twice the level it was when the PNP left power in 2007, the PNP president said JEEP was now a critical vehicle in taking Jamaicans down a more prosperous path.
"We have no more time to waste, no more time to spend on this dithering government. We have to take the firm decisions necessary to rescue this country and to restore the hope," Simpson Miller declared.