Member of Parliament for South Western St Andrew, the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Dr Angela Brown-Burke, has moved a private members motion in the House of Representatives calling for the establishment of a special committee to oversee the “fair and equitable distribution” of Government resources and benefits.
In moving the motion, the Opposition MP argued that “This is not about the PNP or Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) sharing the spoils among themselves, but that Jamaica’s politics, particularly in this dispensation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline of the economy and the expected reduced state funded opportunities, need to evolve into an environment in which every Jamaican has a fair opportunity to receive benefits and job opportunities.”
Brown-Burke noted the challenges faced by her constituents, the majority of whom live in depressed, violence-plagued communities.
She said: “As Member of Parliament, I was moved by discussions and complaints from a number of constituents who told me that they will not apply for jobs, certainly not using their South West St Andrew address. They confess that the address on their EOJ (Electoral Office of Jamaica) National Identification card is a dead giveaway as to where they come from. It is their conviction, rightly or wrongly, that they will not get a job opportunity in the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Fire Brigade or other government agencies, despite their academic qualifications.
“In addition to the usual stigma attached to living in an inner city community, they now feel that an address in a constituency with a proud record of strong support for the People’s National Party is viewed negatively,” Brown-Burke added.
Continuing, she said: “Today, I am not just concerned about the constituents I represent. My concern is more about this country of ours, a place where we all pay taxes and to which we all belong. Jamaica has to evolve to a country where we all have a rightful stake which is not only accorded to those who supported the victorious side in the recent September 2020 General Elections. As such, I present this private members motion which I hope will get full support from both sides of this Parliament”.
Below is the full text of the motion:
WHEREAS the lives of most Jamaicans have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through job losses, business closures, income reduction and health issues;
AND WHEREAS the lives of many Jamaicans have also been adversely affected by the recent heavy rains and floods which have damaged houses, roads and infrastructure, limited transit and access to various communities and caused severe loss to farmers, livestock owners and fishers;
AND WHEREAS all Jamaicans, not just members and supporters of political parties, should have fair access to jobs and benefits, regardless of political affiliation or non-affiliation or geographical location;
AND WHEREAS the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has announced a number of needed programmes to assist and, or, to mitigate these adverse conditions and losses to many sectors of the society, including school children, farmers, fishers, and other vulnerable populations;
AND WHEREAS the GOJ, with reduced revenue and increased demands, must ensure fairness and equity in its distribution and avoid speculation of victimisation, discrimination, favouritism, nepotism, cronyism, and any hint at issues past and present, which, at various levels, have dogged previous administrations:
BE IT RESOLVED that a National Oversight Committee to monitor the distribution of state resources and benefits in a fair and equitable manner be established to ensure fairness and equity;
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that said committee would pay special attention to the distribution of additional PATH benefits, which should bear some resemblance to the national poverty map and the survey of living conditions; the fair distribution of tablets to our school children; enlistment for jobs in the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, as community health workers and for other government jobs, both at the national and at the local government level;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this information, in the interest of transparency, should be available at least in summary, on a parish, constituency, divisional and community basis to all elected representatives and that the names of all beneficiaries, to include recipients of employment opportunities, should be shared with the National Integrity Commission.