Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Letter of the Day | National consensus needed to curtail crime

Published:Friday | August 7, 2020 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I am happy that there is an attempt to reach consensus on an approach to curtail crime in Jamaica but several of the proposals seem to be awaiting major reports, legislation or more detailed proposals when I believe some simple things can be done immediately, which are not difficult to implement to curtail corruption, cronyism and crime, including:

Transparent reporting by public bodies – Quarterly reports are already prepared by most public bodies which essentially lay out their achievements versus what was planned; actual income and expenditure versus planned as well as plans and targets for the next quarter. These reports should be available to the public, as is done for public companies on the Stock Exchange, and the reports be published on their websites.

Boards of public bodies – While we are awaiting reforms and new legislation, let us restructure the existing boards by ensuring fit and proper skilled people are selected. No more than 10 persons should sit on any board, and the chairman and three members should be selected by the minister with three members selected by the opposition and three by the civil society.

Squatter and depressed communities renewal – A significant percentage of our crime stems from inner-city, squatter and depressed communities, which now have an estimated 900,000 of Jamaica’s population.

The time has come where we must take the over $200 billion of National Housing Trust funds and begin to invest a portion in upgrading these communities and restoring some semblance of dignity and pride in the people who live there. Put in the basic infrastructure and provide people with titles to their holdings. Crime will never be reduced if we do not invest in developing these communities.

There are other steps we should be taking but the three above, in my opinion, are a starting point.

ROBERT STEPHENS