Have the PSOJ, JMA, JCC sold Jamaica a 'hollo' on crime summit?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Today is a full 10 days since the Howard Mitchell-led Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) announced the postponement of its planned crime summit, with no indication of a new date or any move towards putting the event back on track.

We would hate to believe that the PSOJ and its partners — the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce — have fallen prey to the nine-day wonder syndrome that has dogged us for as long as there has been a Jamaica.

When the PSOJ, et al, called off the two-day Public Order and Safety Summit that was set for February 15 and 16, we took their explanation in good faith that the various stakeholders “wanted more time to refine preparations and to be assured of the availability of human resources to carry out the agreed outcomes of the summit”.

On second thought, we are wondering how can one determine the availability of the human resources that would be needed to carry out the agreed outcomes of a summit that has not yet been held.

Moreover, the PSOJ said that based on that consideration, many of the individuals essential to the success of the summit would “not be able to adequately contribute to the participatory nature of the two-day event”.

What possibly could they need that was so critical ahead of a summit which was supposed to devise plans, based on the ideas generated during those deliberations to come? Surely, the private sector organisations wouldn't be selling the country a “hollo” or a six for a nine.

As we have said before in this space, we have been looking forward to the summit and its potential to broaden the leadership of the crime–fighting initiative so that it becomes more of a national effort and not as heavily dependent on reluctant politicians, many of whom still have to cover for their nefarious henchmen.

We had also expressed the view that, while such a critical initiative as the crime summit should not be unduly rushed, we regard the crime situation as an emergency and sincerely hope that the PSOJ will be in a position to get its plans back on track without too much delay.

At the announcement of the summit in January, the leaders of the business associations waxed warm:

“The difference between what we propose…(and) many attempts at establishing an overarching policy is that we want to take it further. We want to hold people accountable, we want to set key performance indicators, and to report back to the people on the execution of each indicator,” said Mr Mitchell.

“There is a structured programme to deal with the outcome of this summit and to ensure that the plan does not get put in a pigeon hole somewhere or on somebody's desk,” added the PSOJ president.

For his part, Mr Metry Seaga, the JMA leader, was on point: “The time for blame is over and the time now is to do something about it (murders)…we are taking action today.”

When Jamaica gained independence in 1962, the murder rate was 3.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the lowest in the world. Last year's murder toll of more than 1,600 — or about 60 per 100,000 people — was one of the highest murder rates in the world.

The situation is more urgent now with the current murder toll already ahead of last year. Work is burning in the field, PSOJ.

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