THE EDITOR, Sir:
'Small businesses create jobs and build the economy' is a message from the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce. Job creation is one of the keys to poverty eradication, and hence the drive to encourage the growth of small businesses.
Economic activities influence all spheres of life and human development, and factors which are disincentives to investment and the growth of businesses naturally retard economic development and contribute to the rise in poverty.
Crime is the biggest threat to national development. Poverty, it is often said, leads to crime. But the overwhelming majority of poor people are not criminals. It is more the case that crime is causing poverty.
The high crime rate, and not migration, has caused our biggest brain drain, because we are killing many of our most creative and productive citizens. There are numerous livelihoods and lives which have been destroyed by criminals.
Businesses, creativity and productivity, we are told, will lead to prosperity. But people become very reluctant or even refuse to start businesses, because any suggestion of prosperity makes people a target. This kills the entrepreneurial spirit of many of our brightest, most creative and productive citizens.
Employment factors influenced many to migrate. But many entrepreneurs also migrated after suffering heavy losses by criminals, including loss of life, and many bright, young graduates will also migrate because of the crime problem.
Crime has also reduced foreign investments and affected tourism, our biggest foreign-exchange earner. All these have summarily meant fewer employment opportunities and a vicious cycle of underdevelopment from the community to the national level.
The primary role of government is to ensure the protection of lives and property of its citizenry. One possible means to reduce crime is to place the security forces on constant high alert, similarly to a general election period. Increase patrols in public places and the number of random and spot checks.
The security forces' presence would be felt at all times to serve as a deterrent. Many have argued that random checks are an interference to people going about their daily routines. But isn't it better to be inconvenienced by the police than be attacked or killed by criminals?
There is no denying our high crime rate; but many are in denial of its devastating impact, deaths, destruction and widespread poverty.
DAIVE R. FACEY