Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips says a national plan needs to be developed for the reopening of the economy and “to build a new Jamaica” post COVID-19 crisis.
In a broadcast to the nation on Sunday, the Opposition Leader and People’s National Party (PNP) said the health of the Jamaican people cannot be sustained without a planned re-opening of the economy.
This was necessary for some more Jamaicans to be put back at work and provide incomes for families.
He said 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 suggested the body should “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.”
“These are serious times. Though the COVID-19 virus has not yet peaked in Jamaica, it has already devastated the country’s economy,” he said. Dr. Phillips mentioned the closure of the tourism industry, decline in demand for bauxite and alumina with consequent loss of foreign exchange. He mentioned also reduced remittance flows.
“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 was referencing the two-week shutdown of the Business Outsourcing Process companies that employs nearly 40,000 Jamaicans and is a major source of foreign dollar earnings.
Dr. Phillips said that there is a 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 islandwide, 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.