In addition to continuing to be key partners in the nation’s COVID19 recovery efforts, crime prevention and social cohesion will be the key focus for the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) heading into the New Year. The details on this mandate were outlined by PSOJ President Keith Duncan at the Organisation’s 33rd Annual General Meeting held recently. 

“The Jamaican economy has demonstrated resilience with signs of recovery already emerging after the ravages of the pandemic. Acceleration of this growth is critical, and we have to start by addressing our endemic crime problem, which is the greatest hindrance to economic growth if we are to realise sustainable development,” said Duncan. 

Making the link between the crime rate and the lack of sustainable social intervention programmes especially in marginalised communities, Duncan expressed his commitment to continuing advocacy and partnership with a special emphasis on social transformation to address the root cause of crime. 

“Effective social transformation programmes and resources should be allocated and focused on our Jamaican citizens who reside in marginalised and depressed communities. Billions of dollars are spent by various groups within the public and private sectors and NGOs – developing programmes for social intervention, however, we are not seeing the desired results. Better coordination of these social transformation initiatives is necessary so that greater impact can be realised from the funds that are being spent.” stated Duncan. 

He also emphasised the importance of human capital development in realising social cohesion. “Currently over 765,000 or 63% of the Jamaican workforce is uncertified. We must invest in upskilling and training our people with a focus on early childhood education as the foundation of this transformation.  

The PSOJ will be working with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to monitor strategies for educational transformation.

Duncan also addressed the matter of legislative reform stating the Organisation’s intention to continue its advocacy for a prioritisation of the legislative agenda related to crime. 

“Our laws are outdated, and we must make it a priority to update some key legislation to ensure that they are effective in addressing our current circumstances. We are therefore reiterating our call for the following legislative items to be brought before the House: 

  1. The Firearms Act 
  2. The Bail Act 
  3. Unexplained Wealth Act 
  4. The Road Traffic Regulations 
  5. Amendments to the Dangerous Drug Act 
  6. Amendments to the Corrections Act 

We believe that amending these laws will address peace and public order to ensure that Jamaica moves away from a low consequence environment for criminality.” 

In delivering his address, Duncan also highlighted corruption as another major contributor to crime that requires focus. 

“Conservative estimates put corruption at costing Jamaica 5% of GDP. The repeated incidents of misuse of public resources undermines trust in our public institutions and society and leads to greater apathy in our people. The Crime Management and Oversight Committee and the PSOJ will continue to be vigilant in this area,” Duncan outlined. 

Presentation at Annual General Meeting by Keith Duncan