Fri | Aug 23, 2019

Editorial | The bread and butter fight

Published:Saturday | July 20, 2019 | 12:12 AM

It could happen here. That’s the warning from businessman Richard Pandohie, who worries that Jamaica may experience a social and economic meltdown like that of Venezuela if something is not done to close the gap between the rich and poor in this country.

Mr Pandohie, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, drew the parallel between Jamaica and Venezuela during an address in Kingston this week. He noted that despite current difficulties faced by Venezuela, it is still a county with natural resources and abundant wealth.

His prescription for avoiding such pitfalls, which are triggered by inequity and the disparity between rich and poor, is for there to be proper collaboration across industry and among Jamaicans of all stripes.

These observations should provoke serious thought from policymakers, for when we consider the demise of various inner-city communities, it is obvious that unless and until more resources are placed in these decaying communities the solution for crime and violence will continue to elude successive political administrations.

Inner-city youth are fighting for their bread and butter and for opportunity to feed their families. If they cannot get it legally, then they will find illegal ways to put food on their table. The lottery scam is an example of a corrosive pathway to economic resources. It was one which was exploited by thousands of Jamaicans who continue to argue that their actions of bilking elderly foreigners of their life savings, ‘don’t hurt anyone’ but gave many a chance to ‘eat a food’.

The real benefits people want from their government include poverty reduction, a chance to prepare for a better future through education, which means teachers ought to be paid more to teach in inner-city schools and be given adequate resources so they may deliver better results. Additionally, clean pavements and roads free of the potholes that curse most inner-city communities and orderly infrastructure development are desirable to create a better environment, particularly for the people who live in inner-city communities.

We find great value in Mr Pandohie’s exhortation that, “Jamaica is where we have planted our roots, made significant investments and are raising our families. … Jamaica is our shared enterprise, collaboration is key.”

We take it a step further and call on the country’s politicians to also find ways of collaborating in this great enterprise called Jamaica.

Gov’t and Opposition consensus

Traditionally, our political parties have never found much to agree on. While we depend on our Opposition to hold Government accountable, we should also count on them to continue to contribute to the country’s development.

We get it that an opposition is government-in-waiting so their activities are geared towards achieving power. But once a party becomes government it has the resources to make real change using the state machinery. We long for the day when there is consensus between government and the opposition that inner-city development should be placed on the front burner, and that it deserves a huge chunk of the budget.

We applaud opposition parties for their watchdog role in ensuring that governments act within the confines of the law, and for exposing corruption, nepotism and abuse of power. Standing tall against corruption is a huge part of the opposition’s patriotic mission.

The country is well served by an active opposition. The country could be better served by opposition parties which see collaboration as another aspect of fulfilling their patriotic mission if it can help in finding ways to see that the benefits are spread more evenly to the benefit of more people.