64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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Theme: Progressing on the Path of Progress
Mr. Speaker, I am honored to make this, my third contribution to the Sectoral Debate. I thank the Honourable Prime Minister for her confidence in my ability to carry out the duties as State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment. I accept this responsibility with humility and a resolve to do my utmost to help realize the awesome potential of these two sectors.
Mr. Speaker, as I prepare to report on my stewardship of the entertainment portfolio, I thank my lead minister, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who has been my guide and mentor. My thanks also to the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith, whose experience has guided me as I have walked down what has been, for me, a new and exciting highway. I would also like to express my appreciation to the members of the Entertainment Advisory Board, chaired by Mr. Kingsley Cooper, and the entire team in the Ministry and its agencies for their support over the years.
Entertainment, by its very nature, must work with several other ministries. In this regard, I acknowledge the ready collaboration of colleague ministers with responsibility for National Security; Local Government; Industry, Investment and Commerce; Youth and Culture; Education; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Finance and Planning, as well as the agencies, organizations and numerous individuals who contribute to the work of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
Mr. Speaker, my family continues to be a source of strength and support, and I thank them for that. I thank my constituents in East Rural St. Andrew who have helped me as I try to make a difference in the constituency.
The context of my presentation today Mr. Speaker, lies squarely in the question - what kind of country do we want? You see Mr. Speaker, it is from the answer to this question that all policies, procedures and promises should flow. I have too many times in this House heard the conversation focused on economic growth when in fact an economy can grow, yet the people are left behind. I put it to you Mr. Speaker, that there is a fundamental difference between growth and development, where growth is the progress of the economy whereas development is the progress of the people. I further put it to this House that our conversation should move away from simply growth which guarantees only the owners of capital will benefit, and transition to development, which is people progress.
Mr. Speaker, experience shows that education, health, environmental protection, infrastructural development, housing, and economic opportunities are inhibitors in their absence and facilitators of people progress in their presence. I beg the opportunity to speak quickly based on the time constraint to a few of these areas, in the context of my ultimate responsibility in this House i.e. the people’s representative for East Rural St. Andrew.
By now Mr. Speaker, most people sitting in this House would know that I am an advocate for education, not because of what I have heard, but because of what I have experienced. Mr. Speaker, if it is true that knowledge is power and education is the acquisition of knowledge, then education is the root of power.
Our major objective in the constituency is the 3-2-1 project which aims at eventually having one professional per household in 25 years. This Mr. Speaker will start with subsidiary objectives of three CXC’s per household in 10 years and then two A-levels per household 10 years after.
To achieve this Mr. Speaker, we have started with literacy. Last year from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), we spent 2.5 million on our literacy classes which were held in two locations due to the size of the constituency. We also hired 12 JEEP teachers and utilized seven volunteers, all university students from East Rural St. Andrew. You see Mr. Speaker; all students who receive assistance with tertiary fees have to volunteer for one of the education programmes. We tried the literacy programme in Gordon Town only in 2013 and the improvements were massive.
I have great hope in the cohort going up in June of this year, but Mr. Speaker, when the children who are in the third grade take the literacy test next year, you will see the real fruits of our labour. Mr. Speaker, I recognized that my nieces and nephews learn so much from television characters Dora, Diego and Barney, so I went ahead and bought projectors to have one hour after school Dora sessions for the students, and for the smaller children sometimes for classes. We are now calling on the church and intend to purchase copies of the new English version of the bible to be used in the pairing of literacy and Sunday and Sabbath School.
Mr. Speaker, this year we will also be going on a campaign for more volunteers to participate in Verandah Basic. This is a literacy programme where mothers who can’t currently read, go to a home and learn to read on the verandah of a volunteer, at least once per week. The importance of a parent in the early development of a child’s literacy cannot be overstated, and it is the aim of Verandah Basic to accomplish this.
To achieve the three CXC’s per household in ten years we have also placed focus on the GSAT. Mr. Speaker, if this is a House of truth then we must accept that there is a much higher probability for success if at 12 years, children pass for certain schools versus others. Indeed Mr. Speaker, there are some schools that as a society, we expect the students there to fail. Let me expound Mr. Speaker. By definition satisfaction occurs when the actual returns are greater than expected returns so if I was expecting a million dollars only to receive $500,000 I would be disappointed because the actual is less than the expected. However if I expected 100,000 dollars and received the same 500,000 dollars I would be very satisfied.
Indeed Mr. Speaker, it is this reality of satisfaction that explains our celebration when students from some schools pass three and four subjects because we expected them to pass none. There is certainly not the same jubilation when a child at Campion passes eight, nine or 10 subjects because we expected them to do so. As unacceptable as this is, it is true. So it is my intention that our children in East Rural St. Andrew should in the main, pass for the more traditional schools while we work assiduously to improve all schools as a government.
To this extent, in the last three years we have spent over $11 million on GSAT preparation activities ranging from camps, Saturday and Sunday school, centralized mock exams, and past- paper books.
Here Mr. Speaker, I recommend that the Ministry of Education consider setting standard term exams for primary schools from grades one to six with rotated blind marking. If the Ministry sets an exam each semester based on the syllabus for all grades then rotate the marking so that school A marks school B’s papers, it will help us to quickly identify struggling schools and struggling teachers. This strategy also leads to greater accountability and consistency in input and output.
Mr. Speaker, we hosted over 180 hours of math prep sessions for persons doing CXC mathematics. This started with me going to teach at Donald Quarrie High School on Mondays and Saturdays. It then transitioned to students being offered both transportation and lunch for Saturday and Sunday classes for which I was the teacher for all sessions - seven hours a day every Saturday and Sunday for eight weeks. Not only were these students exposed to the lessons, but the classes were videotaped and placed on YouTube so students from elsewhere in Jamaica could also benefit. One young lady by the name of Jamila Richards commented on YouTube:
“Mr. Crawford. I’m all the way in Portland, and I just want to say thank u for ur help. You taught me a lot and I’m sure of a pass. If your kids don’t pass something wrong with them because I am so far away, and I watched your videos and understood. I went in the exam and use the ‘LOGICS too enuh!’ Thank you from my brother and I, we are very grateful and you’re the best.”
Ruel Johnson: Thank u! i passed!! I know it, big up yuh self sir
Kimola Goldburn: All my life, I had to fight because I had no idea simultaneous equation was this easy.#thestruggleisover
Further, Mr. Speaker we have established seven centres for night school for adults. They will focus on one subject per year starting with Principles of Business so that a constituent can get a better understanding of how to run his shop or his bar or a woman can understand how to price her hairdressing services. This will be followed by Office Procedures, then Social Studies, then Mathematics and finally English.
This night school is a follow-up to the NCT-VET certification where not 100, not 200, not 500 but 1,000 adults under 40 years old are now certified in food preparation, bar-tending, cashiering, and events management. Mr. Speaker $750,000 has been committed to the night school while $2.1 million was spent on the NCT-VET certification.
TERTIARY EDUCATION CALL TO ACTION
Mr. Speaker this (book) is the difference between an 8 year old eventually becoming Dr. Bennett head of surgery and not Ms. B who is hoping for a job to clean the floors. Mr. Speaker, this is the weapon of mass destruction in the fight against poverty. This is the tool that will allow for every man and woman in this country to ensure that his child is better than him or herself. It is only with this singularity of purpose of each adult ensuring that their children stand on their shoulders will the country truly prosper. To this extent Mr. Speaker, like the Americans, who had the shared vision of the manifest destiny and later the American Dream, I ask that this House accepts as the nation’s goal, as the country’s compass, the achievement of one degree per household. Let us empower at least one person to become the catalyst for change, the beacon of hope and the financier of dreams in each family.
BARRIERS TO TERTIARY EDUCATION
Unfortunately Mr. Speaker, this dream of which I speak, is being threatened by the way education is being positioned. Mr. Speaker, I am yet to see a theory of motivation that states that an act is done just for the act, not Maslow, not the Goal Setting Theory, not the Equity Theory - none. Sir, Education must be re-branded and marketed as - “Learn to Earn”.
Sir, this ‘Learn to Earn’ idea means that access to an affordable tertiary level education is necessary. Because if I am correct that the child’s major motive to learn is so that they can improve their earning potential, then literacy, GSAT, CXC, and A-levels are simply gateways to university. It is the degree which gives an individual the greatest earning potential. Mr. Speaker, based on the concept of self-efficacy - a central cog in the goal setting theory of motivation - if the individual perceives his end goal as unattainable he will exert no effort towards achieving said goal.
It is to this extent Mr. Speaker that I beg this House to stand against the concept of de-registration in our universities. Mr. Speaker this act can only be perceived at best as unnecessary; as there is no material benefit the institution can derive from de-registering students. Mr. Speaker, please oblige me a little time to explain this point. There are two types of costs, fixed costs which remain constant, and variable costs which vary per user. Mr. Speaker, the variable cost component of a university student is almost zero. The lecturer isn’t paid per student, the air conditioning and electricity costs aren’t charged per student, and the maintenance cost is not a per student cost.
Mr. Speaker, I beg any accountant, economist, or statistician to tell me what is the financial benefit of expelling a student from the university three weeks before exams for non-payment of fees. Mr. Speaker, while we can’t tell private institutions what to do, any institution that benefits directly from the coffers of the government should not be capable of withdrawing services from a student for whom up to 60% of their fees have already been contributed. Instead Mr. Speaker, we recommend the withholding of exam results until satisfactory arrangements have been made.
Further Mr. Speaker, in the context of East Rural St. Andrew the cost of tertiary education is a major threat to the achievement of the one degree per household objective. Therefore Mr. Speaker, I am also making the call for a Tertiary Education Trust that will allow for the student loan repayments to be extended over 25 years. Mr. Speaker calculations show that at current fees the monthly repayment will be approximately $4,800.
Around the world there is a renewed interest in health for two main reasons. Firstly, good health is of profound importance to people, topping the United Nations Millennium Poll as the thing that people most value in life. Secondly, we now know more about the importance of health to economic and social development as healthy societies are more likely to become wealthy societies. There is now significant evidence demonstrating the aggregate impacts of health on growth and on levels of real GDP per capita.
There are three key channels through which health affects economic performance. The first channel involves the effect of health on labor productivity. Healthier workers are more energetic, have better attendance records and are likely to have higher mental capacity and morale. A major study showed that health differentials accounted for 17% of the difference in worker productivity between countries -giving health roughly the same influence on productivity as physical capital (18%) and education (21%).
The second channel from health to wealth involves the effect of health on education. Healthy students are better able to attend school and learn, plus healthy families impose fewer burdens on children of having to care for sick relatives.
The third channel involves the effect of health on savings and capital accumulation. Healthy people are better capable of saving without the expense of healthcare.
It is for this reason that I applaud former Prime Minister Bruce Golding for the implementation of free healthcare to improve on access to healthcare. But it is one goal to achieve universal access to healthcare, a goal which can only be achieved by having some persons being capable of accessing it free. However it is a greater goal to achieve universal access to quality health care. This Mr. Speaker is the essence of equal access, where availability meets quality. It is for this reason I applaud the decision being made by Minister Ferguson to review the free health care policy and ask that in his review process he considers the implementation of a quintile health card system.
You see Mr. Speaker, STATIN divides the society into five income quintiles. The top 20% being the richest, the second 20% being the second richest and so on and so forth until the fifth 20% being the poorest. The colour coded quintile health card with a machine readable strip could offer free health care to quintiles four and five while quintile three may have a co-payment of 40%, quintile two have a co-payment of 60%, and quintile one having a co-payment of 80%. This co-payment could be further subsidized by the use of private health insurance for the co-payment portion. The virtues of this idea will be further expounded on in the private members’ motion I will move later in this House.
Furthermore Mr. Speaker, I want to add my endorsement to the idea of Mobile Health Centres. This will be particularly helpful in constituencies as large as East Rural St. Andrew which have poor access to public transportation. These realities contribute to visits to clinics being only on an as needed basis, many times when home remedies have failed to correct the cause of discomfort. Mr. Speaker it is my belief that mobile clinics will greatly assist in the effort to make primary preventative care the starting point of our healthcare system. I further take this opportunity for the record, to congratulate the Minister on the development of Centres of Excellence in many areas, and to continue my lobbying for a Centre of Excellence in Gordon Town.
Mr. Speaker, I have communities in as urban an area like Harbour View that have never had legitimate access to roads, water or electricity. No Mr. Speaker, not new communities, communities that have been established since the 1970’s. No Mr. Speaker, not micro-communities, communities that house as many as 3,000 people. As you may imagine it gets worse when we head further into the hills of Dallas, Gordon Town, Mavis Bank and Kintyre. Where roads once existed they are in an extreme state of disrepair and these roads are somehow never on the list, based on matrices which consider primarily the number of persons served. Where there is already a culture of urban migration, the problem is further exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure.
Indeed Mr. Speaker, no university graduate, who we need to remain and develop these communities, will remain if they don’t have the capacity to take a bath without having to go to the river, get to work without braving many breakaways, or drive on roads unsuitable for vehicular traffic. It is for this reason Mr. Speaker that I recommend a Rural Road Maintenance Fund. A percent of the road budget will give roads such as that from Gordon Town to Mavis Bank, Papine to Constitutional Hill, Bull Bay to Papine, or Mavis Bank to Westphalia a reasonable chance of being addressed.
Mr. Speaker it is the unlikelihood of infrastructural repairs and implementation in poor and rural communities regardless of numbers served that drew my attention to the impact of the marginalization of the elected. You see Mr. Speaker, it is not a mistake for the democratic process to be dependent on the majority votes. Sir this was a design to ensure that government policy was guided by the greater good for the greater majority.
Mr. Speaker, let it be noted that it is only the elected whose self interest is dependent on numbers which is indeed the only competitive advantage of the masses. The marginalization of the elected has in my summation led to a shift to the benefits only for those with influence. It is not unusual to hear with concern that Mr. So and So called about his road.
ACCESS TO WATER
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of water, I beg to contradict the member from North West St. Elizabeth’s opinion that his constituency is being sabotaged as I too have not heard the name of East Rural St. Andrew mentioned in that very long list of projects being implemented. My brother I say to you that if the absence of a project on the list outlined meant you were being sabotaged, it would also mean that I too am being sabotaged. If that were the case, we would definitely be in the same boat. However, I doubt that is the case so I lend you my confidence that our time will come, and when it comes, water will flow abundantly. Mr. Speaker I borrow from the honourable member from South East St. Elizabeth, Richard Parchment, where in his speech he said water is not only life it is livelihood. This holds true for many communities dependent on agriculture. And while we are home to the Hope River, with all the negatives it brings, only 30 percent of the residents of East Rural St Andrew have pipes and maybe only 30 percent of those pipes have water.
Mr. Speaker, East Rural St. Andrew is known to be highly affected by adverse weather. During heavy rains we are likely to suffer from landslides in the hills, flooding in the middle and storm surges on the plains. During times of drought bush fires are frequent. Similarly, the constituency is home to a large part of the Blue and John Crow Mountains and one of Jamaica’s major sources of water through the Hope River. Climate change has had a great impact on us. Mr. Speaker, we further ask the Minister with responsibility for Climate Change to consider a contribution to the expansion of our pineapple project for the next JEEP initiative as there is no better way to protect the environment other than to have persons earn from protective practices.
PLASTIC BOTTLE BUY-BACK
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of East Rural St. Andrew, we further ask for the consideration of a law mandating the buyback of plastic containers by the distributors of these products. In 1960, plastic was estimated to have contributed 1% to total solid waste. Currently, it contributes over 13 percent, with the majority being single use plastic. Single use plastics are essentially the plastic products used for packing purposes of almost all manufactured products.
Plastics degrade very slowly, some are estimated to last in the environment for thousands of years. Because of the low density they also tend to float in water. Hence, plastic discarded in watershed areas such as East Rural St. Andrew get collected in the rain water sewers and due to prolonged intervals between retrieval, they choke these rainwater outlets, contributing to land saturation, landslides and floods.
These hardy plastic discards find their way into the rivers and from there to the sea. As per available data from the California based, Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), plastics in the world’s oceans weighs over 100 million tons. Mr. Speaker I would be hard pressed to say never but I have seldom seen a Guinness or a Red Stripe bottle lying idle on our streets or in our drains or gullies. This is because it has a resale value. If we had a law that forced distributors of plastic bottles to repurchase plastic containers of items they have distributed, this could make a huge difference. Not only would it create a viable income for many of our poorest Jamaicans, but it would also in my estimation, be a boost for a plastic recycling industry.
HOUSING - NHT WILLED BENEFITS
While my dad was alive he would always say to me “the only thing I can leave you is advice”. At that time it was a happy moment because it meant that the “lecture” was over and I could get on with the serious business of playing.
As I reminisced the other day on these conversations I wondered how hurt he must have been coming closer to death with the understanding that all he could leave his children was advice. Should this really be the case for an individual who was formally employed for 30 years?
The answer must be a categorical “no!”. While the answer was clear a possible solution was less so until the NHT came to the PAAC. Mr. Speaker, it is my belief that citizens should be able to will their NHT benefits to their children. This will help to reduce the long tail of poverty.
THE ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
The Vision 2030 slogan appropriately separates work, and doing business, as while not being mutually exclusive the business environment and the labour environment are not synonymous. Indeed, some may even argue that to a point they are inversely related, if not in their interest, in their intent. Mr. Speaker, an economic environment is inclusive of both the business environment and the labour environment.
Mr. Speaker, I put it to you that it is a shame that as two parties that evolved out of trade union movements we have allowed for the conversation and in many cases consideration of the ‘business environment’ to dwarf the conversation about an acceptable labour environment. Mr. Speaker I put to you that both are equally important. I have often seen and we have often debated our ranking for doing business in Jamaica. I would love to see where we rank as it pertains to being employed in Jamaica. So Mr. Speaker, while we work on making it easier to do business in Jamaica we should simultaneously be working on making it fair to work in Jamaica.
Mr. Speaker, it seems that more and more in an effort to earn profits, businesses no longer have to be innovative and efficient but instead can manipulate labour to cut cost. We see a greater transition to persons being employed on contracts, indefinitely so as not to have the cost of offering the benefits. Mr. Speaker, there is now a ‘new normal’ in our workplaces where two or three person’s responsibilities have been combined and given to one individual. To this extent while the work day is nine to five it is not abnormal for this individual to get to work from 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m. carrying home work so as to satisfy the added responsibility.
It’s not unusual for a five day work week to be voluntarily expanded to weekends. This Mr. Speaker is not due to lack of capacity but instead due to the responsibilities being so overwhelming. If we throw our eyes back to five and in some cases 10 years ago, these responsibilities were dispersed among two, three and sometimes even four different workers.
You see Mr. Speaker, economic opportunity is not only found in entrepreneurship it is also found in fair remuneration for effort as labour. And Mr. Speaker, I hoped that as technology and the labour surplus makes the invisible hand more invisible in the “free market” model many of you would embrace the need for government protection of workers. I searched without success, Mr. Speaker to find an example, but I believe that it's appropriate for the Parliament to set up a committee to delve further into a proposal I am making for the Ministry of Labour to carry out responsibility audits. At optimum training and experience with the tools provided, is it reasonable to expect one person to complete xyz deliverables in a 40 hour work-week?
Another area of great concern to me Mr. Speaker, is that of pension in Jamaica. Jamaica has a fast growing population of persons over age 65. Without pension capacity, the strain on our already fragile social safety net will be catastrophic. The outcome is a growing population of persons over 65 years who live in abject poverty. Today less than 15% of Jamaicans have any pension arrangements at all. Decades of tax incentives on pension savings have failed to encourage Jamaicans to save for their retirement. Enticement does not work, Jamaicans need a push.
I call Mr. Speaker for us to seriously consider a mandatory pension. Privatized but mandatory pension for every employed Jamaican is one answer. A model under which no Jamaican can escape the promise of dignity in their old age and a process that will jumpstart the economy:
ENABLING INDUSTRIES FOR THE POOR
Mr. Speaker in calling for an enabling economic environment I would like to stress the need for an enabling environment which considers industries for the poor. While I am a firm believer in welfare for children, the elderly and the disabled, it is not my view that government’s responsibility is to provide welfare for the able bodied poor. Instead, government can provide opportunities for them to escape poverty along lines of least resistance. These are more appropriately termed low barrier industries as there is nothing to stop the rich from participating in them, as they often do. So Mr. Speaker, let’s ask ourselves do low investment industries receive equal attention, interest, policy support and funding to ensure their success?
Mr. Speaker it is not in a business’ DNA to have "concern for equity, fairness and ensuring that the vulnerable are facilitated and that the public good is protected". They instead are usually more concerned with "efficiency over equity and profits over people". However businesses may seem more inhumane because the context within which they now operate causes the invisible hand to become more invisible.
You see Mr. Speaker, the invisible hand is one of the foundation concepts of the market economy. It seeks to placate concerns that the majority will be marginalized, by arguing that the owners of capital in their attempts to attain wealth, will eventually also assist those around them. This held some credence in the early days before mass automation, massive outsourcing through globalization and virtual operations due to improved technology reduced the importance placed on impacting others in close proximity. This, Mr. Speaker, has reduced the viability of trickledown economics. It is for this reason Mr. Speaker, that many who were in the past dependent on returns from their labour will have to shift to a dependence on low capital entrepreneurship.
Mr. Speaker, one such low barrier sector is that of vending. We must consider taking every step to facilitate the efforts of all Jamaicans to earn an income. Not the least of which are vendors, many of whom have taken to the streets.
There is no question that for many people, street vendors are a major nuisance. They obstruct pedestrian and vehicular traffic, due to their encroachment on sidewalks/pavements and roads. They are perceived by many to be unsightly nuisances who dispose their garbage carelessly thereby reducing the attractiveness of the city. Added to this, some store owners perceive them as a direct and unfair competitor to their own formal operations. It must be noted that I am not against the concepts of order and regulation. However, let us start with the facilitation of order by creating legitimate opportunities before draconian enforcement.
It needs to be noted Mr. Speaker that street vending is a global activity that is quite pervasive in developing countries, a reality that exists in part because of the demand for their services and in part because of their need for income. Research by eminent economist Narumol Nirathron, in 2006, suggests that street vendors subsidize their customers by selling at razor thin profits and working long hours supported by unpaid labour which is either their own or that of their friends and relatives. Indeed, the research suggests that street vendors mainly cater to the poor as customers and one researcher argues that street vending is a phenomenon of the very poor relying on the less poor and vice versa for a mutually beneficial partnership of the provision and purchase of cheaper alternatives.
Mr. Speaker instead of running them down and confiscating their goods I call on this House to form a committee to consider the facilitation of vending and discuss ideas such as designated streets on designated days, roll-away carts and specified areas for specific merchandise.
Another such low barrier industry Mr. Speaker, is craft for which I share direct responsibility. From henceforth Mr. Speaker action speaks louder than words.
Craft holds the potential to generate significant earnings for Jamaica. Indeed Mr. Speaker the craft industry and the tourism sector are inextricably linked. Craft satisfies all the motives of travel; the social need as memorabilia, the esteem need as evidence and the self actualization need as a reminder that one has achieved this goal. Furthermore the craft industry is the avenue through which the common man can become an entrepreneur within the tourism consumption chain due to the low investment barrier to entry.
In light of the potential of this sector, Mr. Speaker, the Ministry developed a Concept Paper for a National Craft Policy, which has been submitted and approved by Cabinet. Discussions at the Economic Development Committee of Cabinet led to the decision that the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment would proceed as the lead Ministry in the development of a Craft Policy which today Mr. Speaker I am proud to say is currently being developed.
Mr. Speaker, a critical component to the development of the craft sector is the establishment of an effective administrative structure. One which will facilitate inclusion, and enable craft practitioners to have a say in the management of the industry.
In my sectoral presentation last year, I outlined that the Ministry intends to establish a single body, which will be responsible for the management, maintenance and marketing of the craft sector.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the members of this House that a craft council will be put in place with the mandate of ensuring the competitive viability of the craft sector. The council will include elected representatives from local craft practitioners as well as other stakeholder groups.
This body will support the development of a legally constituted authority that will have responsibility for:
Mr. Speaker, a Chairman will be selected soon to steer the Council, which will ultimately transition into the craft authority.
Mr. Speaker, one of the legitimate complaints of craft vendors is the inability to compete with the in-bond stores and the hotel gift shops. The hotel gift shops hold the advantage of proximity to market and information control. Furthermore, the in-bond stores have the advantage of system-selling, being able to sell duty free items as well as the strength of cash which is central to the payola system that has taken root within the transportation sector.
To this extent Mr. Speaker, the Ministry created a brand called “Authentic Jamaican” that will only be sold in craft markets. We also partnered with the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) to host an Authentic Jamaican design competition which bore the following results.
We have also been actively campaigning for artisans to come on board because you see Mr. Speaker we want to see the day, and quickly, where we no longer see our craft markets and gift shops dominated by craft made in China. We are spending all this money to attract visitors to Jamaica, which in effect subsidizes Chinese craft makers as their craft dominate our local craft retail sector.
Mr. Speaker as soon as we achieve a critical mass of craft producers and artisans we intend to move for the introduction of a law that forces imported craft to conspicuously bear the country of origin.
Mr. Speaker I also call on all the members of Parliament present to prepare their communities for the One Craft per Community Project where communities will produce craft from one base product. For instance:
Mr. Speaker under this administration and with this team, diversification in the context of tourism is not reserved to diversification of markets but expands as well to the diversification of the product and most importantly, within the context of this speech: diversification of the beneficiaries. It is what my lead minister meant last year when he spoke to ‘Tourism for All’. It is with this in mind Mr. Speaker that we are focused on the campaign for community tourism where the visitor and the community members have a chance to explore their respective cultures.
Mr. Speaker, there can be two approaches to community tourism. The first is one in which the community serves as an attractor which means that visitors come to Jamaica mainly to visit/stay within the community. One example is Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth.
The other approach is one that sees community activities as an attraction that adds to Jamaica’s already extensive and diversified things to do list. These excursions will help to position Jamaica as a “more for more” destination.
It is the later model that I believe holds the greatest potential for immediate development in Jamaica.
Dream with me members of a ‘Meet the People Day’ once per week. Let’s say every Thursday, community excursions will be facilitated where hotels are encouraged by moral suasion to not have any planned activities on the property but instead are to encourage their guests to participate in listed community excursions. These excursions will be listed in categories to include but not limited to:
Community tourism presents opportunities to develop local resources and talents, and make the concept of tourism a reality at the community level for Jamaicans from Negril to Morant Point.
The Community Tourism Green Paper was tabled in Parliament in February of this year. Copies of the policy have been circulated to key Ministries, Agencies and Departments in order to get broad-based comments on the proposed policy.
The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment has embarked on a series of island-wide consultations to bring the policy directly to communities, as they will be the primary drivers and beneficiaries of this initiative.
This Mr. Speaker will impact communities directly and allow the common man to reap the financial benefits of tourism. This will truly make ‘Tourism for All.’
ENTERTAINMENT; A DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE
Mr. Speaker, entertainment is also one of those industries with low barriers to entry that have provided entrepreneurship opportunities for the poor. Entertainment has a central role to play in helping to move our people along the path of progress. Mr. Speaker let’s begin by acknowledging that the creative sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy. It plays a major transformative role in income generation, job creation and export earnings, all of which are critical to Jamaica’s economic well-being. But beyond that, it has non-monetary value in that it contributes significantly to achieving people-centred, inclusive and sustainable development. Central to the role that entertainment and indeed, the entire components of a country’s culture play, is the considerable economic benefits in the form of jobs, as well as community and individual pride and confidence.
THE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT:
Despite this Mr. Speaker, I believe the lack of appreciation of entertainment and its economic potential leads to a misconception that it is merely for recreation and that it is not a business. That is why many parents often find it hard to support their children if they decide to become an entertainer instead of a lawyer. Mr. Speaker the perceived unimportance of entertainment is captured in the fact that if the Minister of Education visits all schools he is a great minister, if the Minister of Health visits all the clinics and hospitals he is a great minister but if I attend all the events I am an idler. What hypocrisy Mr. Speaker, what lunacy.
Mr. Speaker I see some recent cartoons appropriately portraying me in a carnival suit. Well Mr. Speaker I find them very funny but I only have one problem with that portrayal. The issue I have Mr. Speaker is that I am not only a soca warrior, I am a reggae ambassador, I am a ‘dancehall ginnygog’, I am a fashion guru, I am a drama king, and I am a nerd for the spoken word. I am Mr. Speaker the Minister of State with responsibility for entertainment. What I am not however Mr. Speaker is an arm-chair legislator. Not only have I been to the events, I have been to studios in the depths of the night, I have been to rehearsals, I have been to fittings, I have been to poetry readings, I have been and will continue to be in the field Mr. Speaker.
The mindset that perceives entertainment as being idle also leads to entertainment events being under-valued and viewed as a nuisance rather than a business.
Mr. Speaker the enforcement and some would argue the implementation of the Noise Abatement Act is one of our greatest examples of social prejudice. It applies in the main only to small events as I have never seen it applied to Sumfest, Sting, Carnival, Jazz and Blues or any other large event with connected promoters. Then we scoff at the statement that in this country there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.
To this extent Mr. Speaker we have been working towards the improvement of the Noise Abatement Act. The intent of the act is to reduce night noise as a nuisance.
Mr. Speaker I put it to you that the term nuisance requires both reach and disagreement. Reach meaning the ability to affect and disagreement meaning that those who are reached are bothered by it. More and more Mr. Speaker, especially outside of Kingston and St. Andrew, events are being moved to areas which are out of earshot to places which are inhabited by only ‘peenie wallies’. Yet we have a law so universal that these events outside of earshot are being affected.
Equally Mr. Speaker, even within the more densely populated residential areas there exists, communities that depend on events for economic gain and therefore are in agreement with them being held. Yet again Mr. Speaker there exists a law that is so universal that these communities are adversely affected as they are prevented from holding such events even though the majority of residents are in agreement.
Mr. Speaker we are working along with partner Ministries and agencies to introduce entertainment zones to address some these concerns. The Palisadoes area Mr. Speaker has been zoned by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for Entertainment, Heritage and Conservation as well as Recreational use which includes Fort Rocky an area designated completely for Entertainment. Indeed the entire area has exciting prospects for Entertainment development and we are currently in discussion with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and NEPA to utilize this area as Jamaica’s first Entertainment Zone. This will be a pilot project that if it works well, will be replicated in other parts of the island. We also plan to retrofit the UDC and KSAC owned parking lots in Downtown Kingston, using temporary fencing, to accommodate a growing number of entertainment events on the Kingston waterfront.
Mr. Speaker, Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Registry of Entertainment Practitioners in February of this year and the Ministry continues to streamline the processes necessary to make the system fully operational and compliant with the new Fiscal Incentives regime. The registration period has been open since January of this year and while all other entertainment practitioners have an option of registering, it is mandatory for all event promoters to register by July 31, 2014 as they will not be able to secure a Places of Amusement Licence unless they are registered.
I must emphasize Mr. Speaker that registration is free, so I urge all entertainment practitioners to register and capitalize on the opportunity to access tools of trade and free movement that registration and certification as a bona fide practitioner facilitates.
We are in dialogue with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to make it mandatory for registration to be a requirement for accessing the Places of Amusement license.
Mr. Speaker, Cabinet has also approved an Event Rating System which is intended to be a guide for entertainment practitioners and the general public on what should be offered to the public and what people should expect from entertainment events. We will undertake a public education campaign shortly to speak to the use of sexual content, violence and strong language in our entertainment output.
PROTECTION OF REGGAE
Mr. Speaker, far too often we hear that our music ‘sell off’ yet, in spite of this we are barely seeing the profit. Cabinet has affirmed the need to protect Jamaican musical art forms and the country’s cultural heritage. There has been a joint submission between the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Ministry of Youth and Culture to have Reggae inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
We have applied for trademark protection of Reggae and other authentically Jamaican musical art forms. The programme will also entail the inter-Ministerial development of a national policy for the protection of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady and other distinct forms of Jamaican music.
USE BUT DONT ABUSE ENTERTAINMENT
Mr. Speaker, events have proven to be a significant magnet for tourists, starting with Reggae Sunsplash in 1978. In the tradition of using events as the magnet for stimulating tourism, last year I introduced the twin concepts of 90 Days of Summer and Reggae Month-its Kingston for February.
REGGAE MONTH – ITS KINGSTON FOR FEBRUARY
Mr. Speaker, I turn next to my report on the progress of our Kingston for February project. This programme was conceived out of a recognition of Kingston’s tradition of world-class musical output, the universal appeal of so many of our artistes, as well as the concentration of night life, museums, art galleries, theatre-life, sports and a general buzz that is the essence of Kingston. I have always maintained – and I know that many agree with me - that Kingston is the heartbeat of the Caribbean.
This past February was the first time Government has mounted a targeted overseas promotional programme centred around Reggae Month and we facilitated the visit of Korean media personalities HaHa and Skull.
Mr. Speaker the inclusion of these Korean media personalities provided an opportunity for Jamaica to be exposed to a large market in Asia through social media. This as the show has the largest market share for its timeslot, between 13.8 percent and 19.7 percent of Korean television viewers every Saturday night, and is the top free-to-air programme on Saturday evenings and the most viewed non-drama programme in South Korea each week.
Mr. Speaker, I now turn to our innovative summer entertainment programme which will strategically package local entertainment events to attract visitors to our shores. We initially called this initiative 90 Days of Summer, but based on market feedback we have rebranded it Jamrock Summer ‘90 Days, 90 Ways’ to give it a distinctly Jamaican identity. The launch of this project is set for July 16 in Montego Bay and we have planned an intensive promotional programme, using a variety of media aimed at multiple markets to attract tourists to Jamaica.
Coming out of the Jamaican press launch, we will be capturing pictures and videos to create a robust Electronic Press Kit with a sizzle reel. It is important to note that this launch was deliberately timed to coincide with the launch of Sumfest which happens the next day, to capitalize on International Press Engagement. We have used a local company to manage the web and social media promotions including securing the related URLs instagram @jamrocksummer and instagram and twitter hashtag #jamrocksummer.
Mr. Speaker, the Jamrock Summer Committee is embarking on the largest on-the-ground promotional campaign ever executed in the history of the nation.
We will be targeting specific hotspots for Jamaican-centric travel, specifically places that have direct airlift to Jamaica or a known reggae/dancehall/ska following with easy connections to Jamaica. We will incorporate a College Tour component that will target the 14 million undergraduate population of which 1 million travel for Spring Break. Fundamental to this is a college marketing effort that involves heavy use of social media that reward students for sharing with their network and a Jamaican cultural experience focused around popular music. We will further unveil the concentration weeks and the full Jamrock Summer package at the launch on July 16, 2014.
ARTISTE AMBASSADOR PROGRAMME
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment intends to capitalize on the output of our artistes who tour the world. One could ask, “What is the aim of marketing?” The ultimate goal is to take our potential consumers through the process of Attention, Interest, Desire and transform this into Action. Many of these artistes have fans that are already pre-disposed to visit Jamaica and through our Entertainment Advisory Board and the Jamaica Tourist Board we propose to provide marketing, media and merchandising support to touring artistes who already have the attention and interest of the overseas markets. We intend Mr. Speaker through this initiative to spur desire and action in the large fan base to make Jamaica their destination of choice.
DEVELOPMENT AND EXPOSURE
Mr. Speaker, I now move to the issue of the development of upcoming talent. The Arts in the Park initiative was conceived to provide developmental exposure and opportunities to these artistes by exposing them to international booking agents and talent scouts who also get the opportunity to sign local acts and experience the best of Jamaica’s entertainment talent.
The first Arts in the Park featured the likes of Chronixx, Protoje, Nomaddz, Rootz Underground, and Tessanne Chin and this is evidence that the selection was on point. Mr. Speaker the second staging of Arts in the Park, dedicated to the spoken word, has borne much fruit and is worth mentioning.
The Ministry invited two poetry enthusiasts from Bristol in the United Kingdom and this led to a multiplicity of positive outcomes including:
1) Showcasing the new Jamaican Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris and four emerging poets and writers through the Yardstick Festival and Bristol Festival of Literature from October 2014 onwards. Already the Bristol Poetry Institute a programme of the University of Bristol, has invited Professor Morris to be the speaker at their annual public reading and performance during the week of October 6, 2014.
2) The four emerging talent showcased at the last Arts in the Park will be a part of a speakeasy event around the Bristol Festival of Literature in October 2014.
3) Another tangible outcome of Arts in the Park is a cultural collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the City of Bristol called “Jamaica Rising.”
Mr. Speaker the next staging of Arts in the Park will showcase gospel music and will be held in October 2014.
Mr. Speaker, now to the written word:
Last year in my contribution to the sectoral debate I outlined plans for the naming of a Poet Laureate of Jamaica.
The Poet Laureate programme came about as a result of great collaboration between the Entertainment Advisory Board, and the National Library of Jamaica, an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture. The programme is now housed in the National Library, which will be the Secretariat.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that on May 21, 2014 eminent academic and renowned poet, Professor Mervyn Morris was invested as Poet Laureate of Jamaica. The first person to hold this distinguished title in over 60 years and the first Government invested Poet Laureate.
As Poet Laureate, Professor Morris has said he will help to develop our art forms and promote the recognition of the literary arts, while helping to celebrate the accomplishments of our nation.
PERFORMING ARTS FACILITATION CENTRES
Mr. Speaker, last year I announced that we will be seeking to address the deficiency in entertainment venues by improving existing spaces. This would create greater access to venues for creative producers, promoters and patrons alike.
I am pleased to announce that Jamaica College, St. Andrew High School, Guys Hill High, and Manchester High have been chosen for improvement.
An additional issue that will be addressed by the venue improvement programme is the lack of trained individuals with sound and lighting expertise in Jamaica, despite the increasing number of music studios and the rising number of filmmakers. It is important to note that the Ministry of Education’s CSEC curriculum in Theatre Arts includes Drama, Dance and Stage Craft and prior to this no school in Jamaica has ever been able to complete the Stage Craft component. What we have done Mr. Speaker is to enable Jamaican students to complete CSEC Theatre Arts in Stage Craft for the first time.
In closing Mr. Speaker I must underscore that we remain resolute in our stance to use entertainment as a tool of progress and I am pleased to say that our efforts have been yielding success. We are progressing Mr. Speaker, and the evidence of this is quite tangible. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment continues to break records by our historic achievements.
We have achieved these things for neither purse nor praise but to provide opportunities, and foster progress and development for the Jamaican people.
Mr. Speaker these successes are the result of the winning combination.
Mr. Speaker, members of parliament, ladies and gentlemen I thank you.