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Presentation in the Sectoral Debate by the Dr. Andrew Wheatley

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 10:30

A Government Of Systems, Not By Men

Table of Contents
Overview
South Central St Catherine
Leader of the Opposition
Government, MP’s and Councilor Performance
The New Electorate & Voter Alienation
Political Disconnection
Jamaican Youth Development Observations
A Jamaica GREAT Programme
Youth Educational Renewal Programme (YERP)
NCYD & Youth Policy
Youth Policy Transition
Youth Information Centres (YIC)
Youth employment & Active Labour Market Policies
What is the Solution?
Youth Development Recommendations
Local Government Observations
Councillor Human Resources Development Programme (CHRDP)
Local Government Funding
A Municipal Lottery
National Advisory Council (NAC) Report On Local Government Reform
Conclusion

Overview

South Central St Catherine

Mr. Speaker, as I embrace this privilege of addressing this Honourable House, it is fitting that I begin by giving special acknowledgement to a few people who has been of extraordinary assistance both to me personally as well as to the constituency of St Catherine South Central; Firstly I would like to acknowledge the Great Geometrician of the Universe who has made all things possible, special thanks to my understanding family for coping with the sacrifices of public life, my esteemed colleagues, constituents and Councillors and constituency office staff who continue to toil in the vineyard for South Central St Catherine, for the main purpose of creating a better life for all in the Constituency.

Leader of the Opposition

I wish also for this Honourable House to note, that I am placing on record my gratitude to my Party Leader and Leader of The Opposition, the Hon. Andrew Holness.

Government, MP’s and Councilor Performance

Mr. Speaker, I begin with a quote from the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, National Hero of Jamaica and a founding father of the Nation of Jamaica, a country, which is now celebrating 50 years of political Independence:

“Jamaicans are patient, trustful and law abiding and if properly treated no one has anything to fear. The conditions existing today have not sprung up overnight but they have been left to grow worst till the situation is now acute….

What Jamaica needs now is practical and sympathetic men interested in the country and not charlatans and self-seekers making long speeches about nothing…”

Mr. Speaker, My Colleagues on the Government side have been on hype, a dancehall type hype of People Power for the last several months. However unlike the period between 1989-2007 where automatically winning the next General election was fait accompli….a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible; those days are gone with.

Mr. Speaker, Any incumbent Government, Member of Parliament or Councillor will have to perform and deliver the greater majority of promises made on the campaign trail or face the biblical wrath of the electorate in the next General election.

The New Electorate & Voter Alienation

Mr. Speaker, The electorate of the past is totally different from the present 21st century electorate.

Advances in technology have created a new information-base on public issues (Facebook, twitter and weblogs to name a few) which is attempting to replace the politician.

This media base is not restricted to the agenda of the politician. It is timelier in its delivery of information and more penetrating in its coverage of issues than traditional political fora.

Political Disconnection

Mr. Speaker, As such, it is very important not to promise that which you well and know you cannot possible deliver. The electorate out there is now well informed and if fooled by partisan political rhetoric to vote in a particular way, they will mark time for the politician. This misleading practice by some Machiavellian thinking politicians in the present Jamaica political environment will contribute to more voters withdrawing from the political process in substantial numbers, as such if the trend continues future elections may be determined by a minority of voters. This will cause a skewed democratic process to be installed in Jamaica, causing in theory, a strong political disconnection.

Jamaican Youth Development Observations

A Jamaica GREAT Programme

I have observed another anti-Gang strategy being advertised in print and electronic media. Mr. Minister of National Security, what the troublesome age group of 19-25 needs is education and jobs.

Hence, Mr. Minister of National Security your approach of putting a plaster on a sore will not be sustainable and the sore will fester again.

What Jamaica needs now is a Jamaica GREAT Programme; a Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Programme. In a 50th anniversary year this would be the ideal situation.

Highlights Of The suggested programme:

Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is a gang and violence prevention program which will be built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.

G.R.E.A.T. lessons will focus on providing life skills to students to help them avoid using delinquent behavior and violence to solve problems. The G.R.E.A.T. Program will offer a continuum of components for students and their families.

The thinking behind this programme is in line with the recommendations coming out of the Caribbean Human Development Report 2012; which advocates for a balanced mix of policies that includes social programmes to induce youth away from crime. Simple put - preventive measures to abort the cycle of violence.

Youth Educational Renewal Programme (YERP)

Mr. Speaker, I noted with keen interest, the recent announcement at a function by the Education Minister that dropouts (we note that these dropouts are in the 19-25 age group as such the CAP programme (16-18) they would not qualify for) will soon get a chance to earn their high-school diploma through a partnership of the e-Learning Project, the Jamaica Library Service and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning. This is a programme that would be welcomed by the constituency of South Central St. Catherine and we welcome a pilot project of this kind that will enhance the lives of our unattached youths, giving them a sense of hope in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker to put things in a Jamaica Youth Development context, and I want to place special emphasis on this grouping (19-25 age group), which just need to be taught numeracy and literacy skills to move them forward and to prevent them from being recruited on the corners by gangs or questionable creators of the society. Mr. Speaker, The Jamaica Foundation for Life Long Learning (formerly JAMAL) offers, an after assessment, a High School Equivalency Programme (HISEP) for these so called ‘rude boys’ in the 19-25 age cohort (use cohort instead of group) as the Career Advancement Programme(CAP) stops at 18 years, who wish to reform. However, Mr. Speaker, that programme after assessment cost between $20,000-40,000, which is the MAJOR REASON why this programme has not been an EDUCATION HIT SONG.

Mr. Speaker, I am therefore recommending that a new Programme called the Youth Education Renewal Programme (YERP) be speedily launched (based on similar HISEP aims and objectives). This needs to be heavily subsidized by the Ministry of Education through a Public Private (PPP) venture, post haste. So Minister Thwaites, I am beseeching you, please ensure that this programme is geared towards all Jamaicans, even the most vulnerable within our society who wishes to access this service and not just the selected few

NCYD & Youth Policy

Mr. Speaker, The National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) when it was originally conceived was to dedicate itself to youth policy development.

I listened carefully to the Presentation of the Minister of Youth in this sectoral debate, speaking to the spectacular achievements of the NCYD. I am a bit confused, for from a youth living in St Catherine the policy promulgations of the centre has never really translated to workable programmes for the medium to long term on the ground.

However there may be a Political reason for this, if you are trained by the PNP, you think like the PNP, you will select other individuals of your thinking to highlight your youth policy, as such the role of the Youth Empowerment Officer needs to be more INCLUSIVE-JAMAICAN; colour blind (neither seeing Green nor Orange) rather than the perceived SELECTIVE-PNP. I will not call names…but they know who they are, especially in the parish of St Catherine.
Youth Policy Transition

Mr. Speaker, The Present Youth Policy I gather is in transition, from a Localized“PNP Youth Activist Policy” to a more Global thinking one in line with the thinking of the UN World Plan of Action (WPAY). Hopefully, it will attract the desired funding to “make it happen” for the youth of Jamaica.

Youth Information Centres (YIC)

Mr. Speaker, the Youth Information Centres (YIC’s) have been one of the positive highlights of Youth Development in Jamaica and expanded significantly under the last administration between 2007-2011. We look forward to further expansion in St Catherine of these centres.

Youth employment & Active Labour Market Policies

Mr. Speaker, Youth unemployment is a significant challenge especially for the Members of Parliament and Councillors. Although, some assistance can be given through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) this is still inadequate. The JEEP programme, a short term programme can assist but this a new programme and in terms of Output, outcome and Impact (OOI) we are not sure what the medium to long term impact will be in terms of Youth Sustainable Development.

What is the Solution?

Mr. Speaker, Active Labour market policies (ALMPs) are government programmes that intervene in the Labour market to help the unemployed find work.

There are three main categories of ALMPS:

Public employment services, such as job centres and Labour exchanges, to help the unemployed improve their job search effort by disseminating information on vacancies and by providing assistance with interview skills and writing a curriculum vitae. The Labour Management Information System of the Ministry of Labour needs to be seriously updated and its website input is substandard and awkward.

Training schemes, such as classes and apprenticeships, to help the unemployed improve their vocational skills and hence increase their employability. The HEART programme has been assisting greatly here. Employment subsidies, either in the public or private sector, directly create jobs for the unemployed.

Mr. Speaker, these are typically short-term measures which are designed to allow the unemployed to build up work experience and prevent skill atrophy. The Private Sector needs to be seriously engaged here, for the medium to long term impact of Sustainable youth development in Jamaica.

Youth Development Recommendations

The National Center For Youth Development(NCYD), Should be returned to its original mandate of dedication to Youth Policy Development. The excess staff and funding be released to other implementing agencies such as the Social Development Commission (SDC). The Youth Information Centres would remain with the NCYD as they are a primary research source to inform youth development policy (assuming they are seen in that light). The NCYD must behave in a more Colourblind approach (Neither green nor Orange) for effective and efficient sustainable youth development programmes on the ground.
   
The Ministry Of Education should launch a Youth Education Renewal Programme(YERP) or subsidise the HISEP programme, South Central St Catherine will welcome a Pilot Programme in this regard. This programme will address the needs of the problematic 19-25 years old, Males especially as the CAP Programme stops at 18 years old.

The Ministry Of National Security should fund nationally a Jamaica GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) programme. This would be funded by reducing expensive print and television advertising and through other funding agencies such as USAID.

Local Government Observations

Councillor Human Resources Development Programme (CHRDP)

Mr. Speaker, In order to finish the Local Government process that the JLP administration would have finalized by now and put the Councillors at the centre of the process to Independently drive the process to create sustainable Community Driven /Community Based Development, it will be highly necessary to have a serious look at a Councillor Human Resources Development Programme (CHRDP) and put it in place as part of the Local Government Reform Programme (LGRP)to ensure that Councillors both male and female can aspire to be Prime Minister one day also.

Mr. Speaker, the question in everyone‘s mind is how would this be carried out?

All Parish Councillors would be assessed by the Now Local Government Ministry.

Based on the results of the assessment they would be put on a particular career path.

This career path would be tracked.

This proactive approach will see the Councillor being seriously enhanced/empowered to facilitate Community based/Community driven development to a much greater extent than is happening know.

This approach of the CHRDP will ensure that the Councillor moves from the periphery of the Local Government Reform to the Centre.

Finally, this will ensure and enhance greater Local Governance to ensure that Jamaica becomes the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

Local Government Funding

Mr. Speaker, The Minister of Local Government does not seem at this time to have strong mathematical skills with respect to areas of financing in the Ministry or agencies thereof of his portfolio. As such, it is important to remind the public who may have not heard before or forgotten. What the previous JLP Administration spoke to as it relates to Local Government funding:

Financing and Revenue Generation

    To develop a sustainable financing mechanism for the Parish Development Committees
    To extend the direct financing mechanisms
    To strengthen the revenue generating capacity of local authorities.
    To partner with international and local funding agencies

Approaches to funding Local Government

    Public Private Partnerships
    Municipal Lottery (KSAC-Pilot Project)
    Municipal Bonds (recommendation Of National Advisory Council On Local Government)
    Reserve a percentage of the national revenue for Local Government, plus Local Government must find 30 percent of their budget.

Mr. Speaker I wish to Look at two funding approaches, notwithstanding, there has been an increase in Motor vehicles licences and to come in 2013/2014 a proposal for increase in property taxes.

A Municipal Lottery

Mr. Speaker, Councillor Lee Clarke, The Former Mayor of The KSAC had suggested and doing so for some time, a Municipal lottery. This novel or nascent funding approach needs to and should be further examined.

National Advisory Council (NAC) Report On Local Government Reform

Mr. Speaker, I wish to suggest that the present Minister of Local Government revisit the National Advisory Council (NAC) Report on Local Government Reform Financing so that he can have a clear vision of how to make it happen for the People Of Jamaica and not only for the People Of The PNP….Recommendations as follows:

On Financing of and Financial Management in Local Government

There was an overwhelming or very strong support for:

A fixed percentage of the National Budget to be allocated for local/community development and to finance specified local expenditure

Proposals for revenue sharing, particularly in regard to Parishes receiving a share of revenues received from parish-based economic activities such as mining and tourism

The NAC‟s recommendation to review the Parochial Revenue Fund to ensure its ability to meet the future financing needs of the Local Authorities, and to expand it to include Spirit Licences Fees and other revenue sources

The NAC recommendation that Local Authorities be enabled to raise loans – as provided under the Local Authorities Loan Act, and to float Municipal Bonds

The need to improve the accounting and financial management systems of local authorities

A suggestion for a review of the policies regarding the allocation of Motor Vehicle Licences Fees for road maintenance purposes

A call for a larger percentage of revenue generated in Parishes to be retained in the Parish

Call for a revenue-neutral approach for re-allocating revenues from Central to Local Government, in respect of the funding for fire protection and street lighting (this was in anticipation of these functions being returned to, or remain with, Local Government)

Some of the above was achieved under the JLP administration the rest will have to be finalized by the present administration, as such the ball is now in your court Mr. Minister please ensure you don’t drop it.

Conclusion

Mr. Speaker what Jamaica seriously needs now is a Government of systems, not by men, in that when an administration changes there is continuity and not changes possible for the worse; creating administrative chaos. Systems which will ensure Mr. Speaker, sustainable economic development not under development.

Mr. Speaker, in concluding I will summarize:

I ask that the new “political philosophy of People Power” of the Government stick to Politics and not “Politricks”

There will be no automatic second term it must be based on performance and achievements.

The National Center for Youth Development(NCYD), should be returned to its original mandate of dedication to Youth Policy Development. The excess staff and funding be released to other implementing agencies such as the Social Development Commission (SDC). The Youth Information Centres would remain with the NCYD as they are a primary research source to inform youth development policy (assuming they are seen in that light).
 
The Ministry Of Education should introduce a Youth Educational Renewal Programme(YERP) or subsidise the HISEP programme of the JFLL, South Central St Catherine will welcome a Pilot Programme in this regard.

The Ministry Of National Security should fund nationally a Jamaica GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) programme. This would be funded by reducing expensive print and television advertising and through other funding agencies such as USAID.

A Councillor Human Resources Development Programme be put in place as part of the Local Government Reform Programme (LGRP), to ensure that Councillors both male and female are put on a Career path so that they can also aspire to be Prime Minister one day also.

A serious Look again at the Municipal Lottery and the Minister Of Local Government should seriously review the National Advisory Council (NAC) Report On Local Government Reform financing options

Mr. Speaker I leave you as I started with a quote from National Hero, The Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante:

1962 - "Let us resolve to work together under the law to build a Jamaica which will last and of which we and the generations to follow may be proud."

Mr. Speaker I thank you.
Dr. Andrew Wheatley JP, MP
South Central St Catherine.

 

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