Pound of Flesh

For a mere pound of flesh a day, my fellow Jamaicans, we can live, work and raise a family in this country we love. 
How do you feel about that first statement? I suppose you would prefer to drink arsenic too? Well my fellow Jamaicans that is where we have found ourselves as a people. We’ve struck ‘green’! We have landed ourselves in the lowest of political abysses with a government that is willing to trade the proverbial ‘puss inna bag’ for the pounds of flesh of its people. Lie after lie, mistruth after half-truth – to no truth at all, we’ve been impressed upon by the embellished gold font and green paper promising years of grand prosperity! ‘What would you do with up to 18,000 dollars PER MONTH? One year and forty odd days later we’re yet to smell even the slightest scent of it. Instead my people we’ve received something far less grand – well grand in its imposition. The mid-winter Santas robed in green have delivered to us LARGE blocks of coal labeled property, heath insurance, gas and electricity tax increases! One for you! One for you! One for me? Now that may lead you to question whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Unfortunately, from the looks of things it seems to me that we’ve all made the naughty list – since we’ll all be removing our daily pound of flesh as holy sacrifice for the 30 billion dollar tax regime. But that isn’t so bad, is it? It’s only a DAILY pound of flesh from a disabled man, a pensioner, a retiree, a student and a young woman or man working to make a life for her or himself. Admittedly, I would love to be exaggerating the facts! But sadly my people, to no solace of your own or mine; it is that bad, it definitely is worse than it sounds.  
I presume that this is what slavery would have looked like. Well in the most generous of its existence – but slavery nonetheless. The Jamaican taxpayers of course would be the slaves, toiling in the field to harvest crop (hard earned cash). Our white, rich, couldn’t-careless masters would then be the government, subjecting us to 18,000 lashes all while screaming ‘work faster!’ completely ignoring that we were doing our best under the conditions (joblessness, criminality, tertiary funding or the lack thereof). A pretty dark reality – that may be euphemistic. But how big of an irony is it that the minority oppressed the majority? A selfish few held hostage the lives of MILLIONS. The truth is, the light that the slaves always needed to overcome the shackles of slavery were always within them. But in order to discover and realize the full potential of that light they needed to first believe that they deserved better than what was being dealt to them. That they were better than the burdensome taxes – forgive me, burdensome culture of slavery. All they had to do was believe that they were worthy of bearing hopes for their own future. 
What they allowed continued. WHAT WE ALLOW WILL CONTINUE.
Me. Connoly Black 

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Dr. Peter Phillips Engages Youth

We are awed at the change in political wind in our country. The rhetoric for quite some time now has been whether age influences one’s decision in choosing a political leader. Most people will say ‘no,’ competence is the chief variable that influences their decision. On the other hand, in recent times the electorate has been demanding the political parties to have youth representation in the Houses of Parliament.
We are very proud of Prime Minister, Andrew Holness for becoming the youngest Prime Minister and a long-standing Member of Parliament. However, a few weeks ago, we noticed a meme circulating on social media with a number of MP’s from the Jamaica Labour Party who are well over the age of retirement. One would never guess, because when we think of age, all we see is the fact that our Prime Minister is young. We were never prompted to take into account the age of his cabinet ministers.
It is interesting to note however, that although Dr. Peter Phillips is Prime Minister Holness’ senior by well over a score, we see more youth involvement surfacing from the PNP. We have been watching keenly the approach Dr. Phillips would have taken and although it is still early days, he seems to be one who can relate with the youth and engage them. We see tangible evidence of this with people such as Damion Crawford and Raymond Pryce coming back actively on the political scene.
To put the icing on the cake, the appointment of former senator, Imani Duncan-Price to Chief of Staff in the Office of the Opposition Leader is a big deal! The epitome of inclusion and leadership mixed with experience and youth. That is commendable!
We look forward to good governance and an even more robust opposition.
Kimberley Thompson

THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL PARTY YOUTH ORGANIZATION LABELS GOVERNMENT BUDGET AS ‘ARTIFICIAL PROSPERITY’

 People’s National Party Youth Organization89 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6

Telephone: 978-1337 ext. 224/584-6772

 

For: Immediate Release

To: All Media Houses

 

 

THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL PARTY YOUTH ORGANIZATION LABELS GOVERNMENT BUDGET AS ‘ARTIFICIAL PROSPERITY’

 

 

Kingston, March 22, 2017: The People’s National Party’s Youth Organization (PNPYO) is today encouraging all young persons and by extension the entire Jamaica to take a stand against the extortionate and obviously indefensible tax package waged against the people of Jamaica in order to fulfill an ‘ill-thought-out’ campaign promise.

 

It was our hope, given the many voices of the Jamaican public that have stepped into the space to demand the retraction of what we consider to be a reallocation of taxes, that the now Government would do the honourable thing to renegotiate their efforts and put to the Jamaican people a credible, workable and conscionable budget. We recognize however, from the utterances of the Minister of Finance who so arrogantly stated that there would be no rollback of taxes, that the welfare of the Jamaican society is secondary to that of the pursuit of political mileage of this Jamaica Labour Party led administration. To make matters worse, Prime Minister Andrew Holness in his budget contribution, trivialized the impact of the implementation of 13 Billion dollars in additional taxes even after he described Jamaica as an ‘overtaxed’ nation.

 

The burden of increased taxation will lay squarely on the backs of the most vulnerable in society and the hard working youth of Jamaica struggling to purchase their first homes, repaying student and car loans, travelling on public transportation to and from school and work – making an honest living. The increase in taxes on gas will directly affect the prices of public and private transportation, electricity and production therefore forcing the people to sacrifice more for the sake of selfish governance. Our young and working class will face higher premiums to secure for themselves access to affordable health care from an inefficient and somewhat ‘toxic’ health system. It is incredibly ironic that the Prime Minister claiming to be in pursuit of a healthy nation would tax health insurance not only threatening the livelihood of businesses but also the accessibility of healthcare by the most vulnerable in society. It is obvious that the welfare of this nation is far removed from the minds of this administration.

 

It is with this in mind that the PNPYO stands in support of the ‘walk out’ of the Parliamentary Opposition and is appealing to the moral of the Jamaica Labour Party Government. We ask that you do what is right, sustainable and equitable by considering for the first time the people of Jamaica.  

 

If however, the Government fails to do what is in the best interest of the people, we the PNPYO will stand firmly in protest against the depraved execution of impractical campaign promises in the name of ‘ARTIFICIAL PROSPERITY.’
Let us not create a hopeless Jamaica!

-END-

 

Ms. Connoly M Black

Peoples National Party Youth Org. 

 

PNPYO: ‘SLB SHORTFALL WILL HAVE DEVASTATING IMPACT ON THE STUDIES OF TERTIARY STUDENTS

Kingston, March 21, 2017: The People’s National Party Youth Organization (PNPYO) is calling on Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid to give full clarity on the current state of funding to the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB). This comes in light of several discussions, that there is a shortfall in the subvention provided to the Bureau in the 2017/2018 budget in comparison to that provided in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 respectively. The organization is therefore calling on the government to provide immediate clarification as to why the grant was discontinued and the amount of students that will be affected by its removal. There is a wave of panic in the tertiary education sector as students who once benefited from the $250 million and $100 million dollar grant for the STEM programme will no longer have access to this funding.

In November 2016, $800 million was spent on an unsatisfactory de-bushing programme and presently over $360 million is again being allocated for the furtherance of an already unsuccessful programme. We are therefore urging the government to be more guided in it’s spending and CAREFULLY identify its priorities.

Providing more access to tertiary funding will allow the students of Jamaica the ability to realise their dreams of becoming hardworking members of society. When funding is reduced without recourse it therefore means that less Jamaicans will have the ability to access the education necessary to become graduates and future experts of their fields of study.

It is imperative that the Education Minister develops and implement a comprehensive plan to make the SLB a viable entity in order for the Bureau to fulfill its mandate of providing funding to the tertiary education sector. This obviously does not entail lessening its financial contributions.

We use this opportunity to commend the government on taking the first steps in reducing the interest rates for select areas for SLB borrowers, however, we ask that the following solutions be put in place to:

  1. Reduce the interest rates on SLB loans to all borrowers not just the selected groups; and
  2. Create an education trust fund using the monies collected through the Education Tax. The monies collected would be used to target the development in the education sector and provide a sustained channel of funds to the SLB

The PNPYO is calling on the Education Minister not to remain silent on this salient and pressing matter.

 

-END-

 

Contact:

Ms. Connoly Black

PNPYO President (Acting)

 

Preventative Detention Will Cause More Harm than Good

As a religious follower of the news, I couldn’t escape the news about the Government mandating the police force to institute preventative detention as a means of helping to curb crime, especially murder, which rose last year by 20 per cent.

First, I must commend the Government for taking this long-standing issue into consideration. However, I am of a different opinion.

Preventative detention, on the one hand, can be viewed as a good move, whereby if Joe poses a threat to his spouse and is detained for 24 hours and be allowed to cool off, as the attorney general puts it, there is a fair chance that a life would have been spared from the ills of domestic violence.

On the other hand, was this decision taken with everybody taken into consideration? To begin with, I have to view it from the standpoint of the youths, as that is the age cohort I identify with.

I know it is said that there must be sound reason for detaining individuals, but what yardstick do we use to measure ‘sound’? Will it be by appearance such as hairstyle, baggy or saggy pants, and the like? If that is the case, sadly, even law-abiding citizens, including university students, will be detained.

There is also a massive trust deficit in police-civilian relationship. How can we guarantee that there will be equity in the steps taken to enforce the law?

 

Unanswered Questions

 

The news item further outlined that the press conference ran for a good two hours. Was this the major solution that was devised by those who attended the all-day National Security Council meeting earlier this week? Is this the crimefighting plan? There are so many more questions than answers.

Preventative detention will further exacerbate crime and violence, as an already strained relationship between the police and the citizenry will further deteriorate.

What we need are practical solutions. We have to begin at the community level, as that is where criminal activities are birthed. Foster a partnership among the social agencies such as the Social Development Commission, the youth clubs, religious institutions, justices of the peace, citizens and the police – solutions that will actually help everyone involved so that there will be cooperation and harmony.

Preventative detention will do some good, but a lot more harm.

St. Thomas Parish Chair,

KIMBERLEY THOMPSON

kimberleythompson81@yahoo.com

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/letters/20170210/letter-day-preventative-detention-will-cause-more-harm-good

Implications of the Snitch Permit

It is an irrefutable fact that crime and violence is a pertinent socio-cultural issue in Jamaica of tumultuous magnitude. Parishes like Clarendon have been specially challenged with the issue of crime and violence which represents a helpless decay in the moral fibre of our society. In an effort to combat the exponential growth of crime in the parish of Clarendon, the police have declared a motion that that they will no longer grant permits to members of the community for entertainment events unless they offer information relating to gang violence and crimes within the community.

The PNPYO finds aspects of these assertions problematic and unreasonable for the people of Clarendon. As an organization we understand the grave, systemic problem that crime has become and we do commend the Clarendon police for their desire to be diligent and proactive in combatting this social ill but we implore them to take a different approach. In justifying the desire to restrict the dissemination of entertainment permits only to members of communities who offer information to the police, it was postulated that the “informer” culture needs to be countered. The police force is predicating that they would love to start a police informer gang. The reasoning is that “if you have a handful of guys in a particular community trying to hold the community at ransom saying you are the informer, so why not get a group of good guys to come rise up and say we not going to allow you to take over our place and mash up our place.”

The PNPYO will always be congruently in support of action that helps to eradicate social ills in our society but what we are seeing here is potentially damaging. There is evidently some distrust and disconnect between the people of Clarendon and the law enforcers. It is apparent that the police feel that pertinent information is being withheld from them. This is a reasonable concern but to create a symbiotic relationship between granting of permits for entertainment events and informers is dangerous. Removal of creative, cultural and economic avenues for the people of Clarendon is assuredly not going to encourage persons to be more cooperative with the police. The timeless assertion of His Imperial Majesty that “loyalty inspires understanding, understanding leads to co-operation and these are the greatest evidences of strength” holds perfectly prevalent today.

We must accept now that cultural suppression and by extension disallowance of our people to invest in social integration through entertainment is unfair , uncalled for and dangerous. This type of approach to combatting crime could even lead to more crime. If only “informers” are granted permits then they may be at threat to being targeted violently. Entertainment is a industry driven by transparency and everyone has to know who the promoter is to support events. Therefore there is no possible way confidentiality and witness protection can be guaranteed because once a promoter is now granted a permit he is immediately targeted on the “informer” radar.

Crime has never existed in a vacuum and there many other socio-economic ills that help to contribute to the sustenance of this problem. Poverty stricken families with a lack of potential revenue streams has always been a contributing factor to crime in Jamaica. Through the unending brilliance of our Jamaican people and their vibrant, unending commitment to culture; entertainment namely parties and street dances has become a main revenue earner for many aspiring entrepreneurs in the country. Many jobs are created just from local community events namely Dancehall staples such as the soup man, the pan chicken man and even the venue cleaners. If we remove or lessen the potential for persons to earn from these events and fulfill their entrepreneurial aspirations are we not potentially creating more avenues for crime? I reiterate that the PNPYO commends any organization or police force that seeks to find progressive and proactive ways to combat crime in our nation. Despite this fact we would like to urge the Clarendon police to rethink this motion given careful consideration to the thoughtful indictments the PNPYO has placed on them. Our intention is not to be divisive but it is imperative that while we combat various social ills in our nation, we do not disenfranchise and estrange ambition and innocent young entrepreneurs.

 For More Information:

Danishka Williams

Opposition Youth Spokesperson on Entertainment & Culture

PNPYO

email: danishkawilliams@gmail.com

 

PNPYO CALLS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY ROBERT MONTAGUE

The People’s National Party’s Youth Organization (PNPYO) is outraged at the recent spate of murders in Jamaica. We are even more alarmed at the overwhelming silence from Ministers of Government, civil society movements and other social and religious organizations alike. Of specific importance are the crimes being perpetrated against women, the most recent of which resulted in the death of 19-yr-old Tashoy Barrett of St. Thomas, who it is alleged, was brutally murdered by her companion. It is absolutely heart breaking that one of the most vulnerable groups in society is being targeted, while nothing is being done to mobilize or protect same.

 

The PNPYO notes that since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has assumed office, crime has parachuted island wide. Further, neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of National Security has made any attempt to address the state of the nation.

 

The PNPYO recognizes that crime ought not to be used to advance one’s political agendas, as it is a phenomenon that affects all Jamaicans and by extensions our visitors. The current state of affairs however, demands the utmost urgency from those in the positions to lead and the PNPYO believes that ten months in office is sufficient time for the Government to put forth, as promised, a workable crime plan to fight against and bring to justice perpetrators of crime. Ministers of Government are put in positions to lead and protect the welfare of ALL Jamaicans.

In light of the fact that ten months has elapsed since the Minister of National Security has taken office, the PNPYO strongly believes that an effective and appropriate crime plan ought to have been offered to the people of Jamaica by now. With the rapid increase of violent crimes and crimes against women, the deafening silence from the Minister of National Security reflects his inability to properly pilot the Ministry. The Minister of National Security must admit that the interests and safety of the Jamaican people is paramount. Given the Ministers’ dereliction, failure to act and essentially protect the Jamaican citizens, the PNPYO hereby calls on the Minister to tender his resignation with immediate effect.

 

We also plea to the Prime Minister to provide leadership by replacing Mr. Montague with a capable and effective Minister of National Security who will appreciate the urgency of Jamaica’s climate of criminality. We also propose that once a new Minister of National Security has been assigned, that he or she immediately engages the acting Commissioner of Police in careful and strategic conversation, after which both parties should present to the nation a COMPREHENSIVE CRIME PLAN to be executed in order to restore peace of mind to the Jamaican people.

 

The PNPYO pauses to extend its deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of all those who have lost loved ones at the hands of criminal elements in the recent months.

 

We ask that all Jamaicans at this time join hands, hearts and voices in speaking up and out against criminality.

 

 

Ms. Connoly Black

Interim President, PNPYO

blackconnoly@outlook.com