A compromise over Ms Velma Hylton

Friday, March 07, 2014    

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OUTRAGE over the appointment of Ms Velma Hylton to the Commission of Enquiry into the May 2010 security forces' operation in West Kingston has, regrettably, reached fever pitch.

What is now coming from both sides of this controversy is raw emotion, rather than reasoned debate about Ms Hylton's suitability to sit on the commission.

We have no doubt that Ms Hylton is eminently qualified to do and complete this task. However, we cannot ignore the strident position adopted by the Opposition in regard to her appointment.

The fact that the Opposition's view has created such discord does not give the Commission a clean sheet with which to begin, as it is already smeared by scepticism.

In order, therefore, to not provide anyone with an excuse to delay or, worse, scuttle the commission, the Government, we believe, should hang its ego at the door and give serious thought to reversing Ms Hylton's appointment. For what is really at stake here is uncovering the truth of what happened in that deadly operation four years ago.

This country also needs to ensure that we do not return to the stage where a community believes that it is above being policed by the State.

We understand that the Government cannot give in to every demand by the Opposition. But given the sensibilities over the fact that the events necessitating the inquiry took place under a Jamaica Labour Part (JLP) Administration, and in a JLP stronghold, nerves are understandably on edge.

In exchange for the Government dropping Ms Hylton, the JLP needs to recommend to the security forces how it should handle a situation as outlined by Ms Hylton. For the State cannot afford to give in to criminals.

Citizenship by investment makes sense

It hasn't crescendoed as yet, but already we are hearing criticism of the Government's plan to consider offering Jamaican citizenship to investors.

Obviously, not many people heard when Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies put the idea on the table a few weeks ago in a presentation to Parliament on the proposed Goat Islands investment. However, we would urge those who are blindly opposed to the idea to shed their xenophobia and give it serious thought.

The fact is that the policy is utilised by many countries, among them our sister Caricom states Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis, which established its Citizenship by Investment Programme in 1984 and which is said to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

Quite frankly, Jamaica should have embarked on a similar programme long before now, and lest those who oppose it forget, we don't have investors beating down our doors to come in.

What we hope, though, is that any citizenship by investment programme established by the Government should be extended beyond the proposed logistics hub.

Also, access to the programme must be conditional on applicants passing criminal background checks. The Administration should also examine the feasibility of requiring investors to guarantee jobs for qualified Jamaicans. This is something that is done in other jurisdictions.

We are not here saying that the Government should hand the country over to investors. What is badly needed, though, is the kind of investment that will pull us from the miserable economic hole in which we have placed ourselves.





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