In a broadcast to the nation on Sunday, the Opposition Leader said the health of the Jamaican people cannot be sustained without a planned re-opening of the economy that will put some of our people back at work and provide incomes for families.
This, he said, must be a strategic process to rebuild a New Jamaica and the timetable of the re-opening of the economy must have the benefit of the best expertise in the county.
Dr. Phillips said a national COVID-19 Prevention Planning and & Oversight Committee (CPOC) should be established to enable an inclusive planning approach to the Coronavirus fight and strategize for the nation’s future beyond the pandemic.
He said the body, which would include private sector, health professionals from the public and private sectors, trade unions, churches and civil society, would be responsible for overseeing the distribution of benefits from the government as well as sequencing the areas and sectors to be re-started as the economy seeks to eventually reopen.
He said that the key to Jamaica’s economic recovery is a modern agricultural sector which will provide both food security and the increased capacity for exports. Other critical elements of the New Jamaica for CPOC to plan for will involve the redesign of business and operations in the public and private sectors to meet a changed world by improving ecommerce and digital agility.
“These are serious times. Though the COVID-19 virus has not yet peaked in Jamaica, it has already devastated the country’s economy. The tourism industry has effectively closed; the demand for bauxite and alumina on the world market has fallen and this removes another source of foreign exchange earnings.
"Similarly, remittance flows, through Western Union, MoneyGram and the Banks have been negatively affected by the Global pandemic which has affected Jamaicans overseas in the United States, Canada, Britain and other countries of the people who send money home to Jamaica. This is why I urge the government to proceed cautiously with the BPOs as a vital remaining source of foreign exchange and many, many families depend on the income to survive,” Dr. Phillips said.
He said, in order to protect the BPO sector of the economy, the government must establish and enforce new and improved standards of operation. The BPO leaders also have a critical proactive role to play to protect the industry and invest in the health protection of their workers and wider communities. This is time for active, honest partnership and accountability.
“Given that there is no vaccine on the horizon, every company in each industry, every organization needs to re-think and re-tool in light of the new ways in which we will have to operate and succeed in this new normal.” Dr. Phillips explained.
He added that there is need for the equipping of public spaces to provide services to meet the required standards of sanitation and hygiene protocols of a changed consumer and for a world that may require social distancing until a vaccine is found.
“Education is also a critical area. With schools being closed, over 300,000 poor students who don’t have access to online learning will be left out. Even as we improve access island wide, we need to design plans for the extensive remedial efforts that will be required when schools reopen. There should be a focus especially on those students going into high school this September,” the Opposition Leader said.
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