Government must be held to account for manifesto promises


Government must be held to account for manifesto promises

Saturday, September 05, 2020

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A regular complaint in the Jamaican sporting, entertainment, heritage and creative arts communities is that while governments and country have benefited down the years from their exploits, very little, in proportionate terms, has gone to facilitate and encourage such endeavours.

So, for example, classic reggae songs down the years have helped to build Brand Jamaica. But to what extent has the Jamaican music industry benefited in meaningful ways from State assistance?

And in sport, while superstars such as Mses Deon Hemmings, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, and Messrs Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell and Chris Gayle have placed Jamaica on every tongue, what have the authorities done to sustainably drive that wonderful tradition?

Not nearly enough ... would undoubtedly be the quick answer to those questions.

Yet successive governments have always listed sport, entertainment and the creative arts as areas that will get serious attention under their management.

Which is why sportsmen and sportswomen, sports administrators, journalists and indeed all well-thinking Jamaicans should read what the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had to say about those aspects of Jamaican life in its Election 2020 manifesto.

We are not naive. We fully understand that the Government will be in no position to place sports, creative arts and entertainment on the front burner for the immediate future, given the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the scope of which is unprecedented in our time.

But as times get better, as they will, those watching must not allow the JLP's promises to be simply forgotten.

For example, among the plans for the creative and entertainment sectors is the use of “a Creative Industries and Entertainment Fund to facilitate incubation, development, promotion and marketing of leading young artists in various areas of creative industries and entertainment, such as music, film, fashion and art”.

And, appointment of “a panel of leading music industry experts to discover, develop and promote young artistes for global reach in the industry”.

In sport, we note among other high-sounding plans, the JLP's ambition to “intensify efforts to establish an extensive sport tourism programme that will, among other things, provide discounted prices to athletes that wish to use our sports facilities (especially during their winter season).

“These sports training facilities should be equipped to meet international standards and include gymnasium, swimming pool, indoor halls, cycling velodrome, squash courts, conditioning units, hockey fields (grass & synthetic), athletic track (cinder & synthetic) and outdoor courts (such as lawn tennis courts)”.

The party also said it “will forge partnerships between Jamaican/international entities to tap into funding opportunities for sport and community development. Jamaica has more than 1,600 sporting facilities; including track and field, football, netball, etc. These existing facilities need to be rehabilitated. Other facilities should be built. The facilities located in our nation's schools should be considered in this venture as this would negate the need to procure land while improving the facility to which school children would have access”.

Jamaicans need to ensure that these manifesto pledges do not become more empty promises.

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