Encouraging recent news reports indicate the poverty level is finally declining in Jamaica.
Options for gainful employment are continuing to slowly improve. Inflation is below targeted levels. Though not ideal these changes represent a significant departure from the horrid living conditions in the society in the not too distant past.
Tourism arrivals are outperforming expectations and are at historic new highs. Revenue generation from tourism and the accompanying contribution to the GDP is rising and paralleling arrivals. Murders are slowly, tortuously, finally trending down. The Jamaican populace is beginning to again believe there may be some truth, though still elusive, of being able to sleep with windows and doors open even while securely burglar barred in.
Massive expansion in major, high quality, durable roadwork, on major roadways, including Marcus Garvey Drive, the Barbican Square, Spanish Town Road, Hagley Park Road, the Ferris Crossing to Whithorn main road in Westmoreland, and others are smoothly progressing at rapid pace.
The government amicably concluded a four year contract with the Jamaica Teachers Association thus guaranteeing some stability and certainty in the public sector wage bill. Most recently the Finance and the Public Services Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke announced the decision by the government to address the long standing flawed Boards of Public Sector Bodies selection and appointment process.
The media in Jamaica is still recognised worldwide for the high degree of freedom of the press in the country.
Tackling the excess use of sweet drinks and associated undesired increase in obesity in the society reflects a willingness and resolve to address some of the more difficult and thorny issues negatively impacting the society. The health industry will be saved billions of dollars by reducing and preventing lifestyle associated diseases.
The other bold decision by the Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton, to finally fully address the long standing physical plan deterioration and negative employee and patient health challenges at the Cornwall Regional Hospital is refreshingly courageous.
The promised $1.5 M dollar income tax reduction package has been fully and successfully implemented.
Documented improvement in performance in 4 of 5 subjects at the recent GSAT is encouraging. This is particularly notable and especially satisfying as a good education is among the most important elements in the sustained development of the society and the transition of citizens away from poverty, undesired teenage pregnancies and nonproductive involvement in criminal activity.
The improbable request for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to address the G7 summit highlights again the contribution of Jamaica to world politics and his standing in the world.
St. Mary, it is has been recently reported will soon benefit from the institution of a new tour for tourists. This will allow the local community to benefit from the significant increase in tourist arrivals. Ordinary people are now beginning to enjoy the benefits of the change in the economic trajectory of the country. Contemplation of a new cruise ship pier in Port Royal if successfully implanted will deliver enormous benefit to the citizens of the Kingston Metropolitan area. The political implications will be enormous. Development of industries to satisfy the demands of these new transient visitors will expand rapidly.
However to fully and meaningfully impact the life of ordinary Jamaicans the government must now urgently address the pressing public concerns around their limited access to all beaches by Jamaicans. This will significantly improve positive perception of the government and give a sense of equality to citizens who have felt neglected. There will be an increase in the sense of ownership, feeling of belonging and ability to enjoy some of the natural beauties of Jamaica.
Continued attention to discipline and behaviour change through the Zones of a Special Operations (ZOSOs) should be ongoing. Every school should be encouraged to develop and deploy some programme geared at revenue generation. Options include green house farming, greeting card production and printing services, and after school tutoring services.
Steadfast attention to management of waste including improper disposal of garbage should be accorded special attention. As individuals become more self assured and independent they will naturally invest more in the cleanliness of their environment. Dedication to development of parenting skills, commitment to wholesome family life and respect of law and order are critical.
Jamaica is finally awakening, after drifting aimlessly, since being awarded independence in 1962. Citizens must not now relent. They should insist that the Andrew Holness government and a reasonable, responsible, opposition PNP, attentively address the welfare of every Jamaican.
Guest Author: Leon Wright
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