'Not one red cent'
Overseas Jamaicans says Government will not get its hands on proposed US$10-m anti-crime fundMonday, May 10, 2021
BY HAROLD BAILEY
NEW YORK, USA — Plans by Jamaicans overseas to set up a US$10-million fund to help fight crime in their beleaguered homeland are moving apace, but the Government won't be “touching one red cent” of the money, they have vowed.
A core group, which met this month to speed up establishment of the proposed fund, said every cent of the money would go directly to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), completely by-passing the Consolidated Fund where the Administration could get its hands on it.
First proposed late March this year, the fund will target an estimated one million Jamaicans in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom for US$10 each to assist the JCF in crafting a comprehensive crime plan, with emphasis on procuring urgently needed equipment and technology.
“No funds collected under the proposal will be turned over to the Government or its agencies. Our help will be project-based and in collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force,” said former Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Lance Corporal Mark Parkinson whose brainchild it is.
The main personalities behind the effort have not said publicly why the money won't be sent directly to the Government. But privately they said that they feared it would be used for other areas of need decided by the politicians and not go to the JCF.
The idea from the founding member and past president of the Jamaica Ex-Soldiers Association (JESA) in the US was immediately embraced by other US-based ex-members of groups including: the JDF; the JCF; Department of Correctional Services; and the Jamaica Fire Service.
Parkinson's call was escalated after being quickly adopted by the Diaspora Task Force on Crime and the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, which are among groups expressing concerns about the spiralling murder rate in Jamaica since the start of the year – 400 homicides as of May 2.
Showing that they are not all just talk, they have set up a core group and already met virtually to discuss an action plan, which covered the legal framework under which the fund will operate, its structure, the need to be transparent in its operation and the setting up of a website. A second meeting is to be held this week.
That continued high homicide rate is putting a strain on the minds of Jamaicans in the three largest Diaspora communities who want to retire and return to their homeland, spokespersons told the Jamaica Observer.
Apparently not satisfied with the outcome of a recent meeting at which National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang spoke from the Jamaican Embassy in Washington on crime-fighting measures, the Diaspora members have drafted a letter, which is to be dispatched to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the Observer has learnt.
They are expected to raise with Holness the vexed matter of governments over the years spurning offers of help with expertise and technology to assist with crime-fighting, now said to be of deepening concern.
On this perceived lack of response to offers of help, the UK's Beverly Johnson, who sits on the Jamaica Diaspora Crime Intervention and Prevention Task Force, argued that a different strategy may have to be employed to “get the desired results”.
Dr Rupert Francis, who heads the task force, and who has been vocal on the issue, said the desire of those in the Diaspora to assist their homeland with reducing the murder figures should be taken more seriously.
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