Golding pledges to weed out inequities in local ganja industry Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

People’s National Party (PNP) President and Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, has lambasted the Government for its purported failures to deliver several promises on the economic and crime fronts.

In rallying Comrades and citizens of Jamaica to join forces with the PNP to form the next Government, Golding highlighted several social and economic initiatives that his party will be bringing to the table to rescue the country.

Among the proposed solutions are greater focus on agriculture, as well as the local ganja industry, where under a PNP Government, home-based ganja production is to be facilitated.

Golding, in his address at the party’s 84th annual conference at the National Arena on Sunday, said Jamaicans’ economic outlooks are dim, and argued that the masses are struggling to make ends meet.

“Comrades, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) received the support of 21 per cent of the electorate in the last general elections. So, in a real sense, they are a minority Government,” he asserted.

“They are a Government that is increasingly associated with failing the people… They promised five per cent growth in four years – the so-called five in four – but from over that period from 2016 to the start of the pandemic in 2020, growth was stagnant under their watch.

“Time come to call it what it is, an illusion, an abject failure!” said Golding to thunderous applauses.

Turning to crime, he again rapped the Government for its failure to find adequate solutions to the country’s woes.

“Do not forget, they also promised we could sleep with our windows and our doors open, but with one of the highest rates of murder in the world, Jamaicans are living in insecurity, violence and fear,” the PNP president asserted.

“Ninety-three per cent of Jamaicans have lost confidence in the Government’s current crime fighting capability and management.

“People are afraid to go outside. People are afraid to hang out on them ends, because to do so is a risk to their lives. A strange face is viewed with suspicion…” Golding claimed.

Meanwhile, the Opposition leader argued that for the country to have a hopeful future, there must be “radical change for the better” across several industries, such as the ganja industry.

Golding lamented the need for the country to move beyond the decriminalisation of marijuana, which he said he “championed” and made a reality under the last PNP Administration.

He elaborated that, “The potential of this industry is vast, but the Government does not seem to understand or believe in it.

“Time come to proactively empower and include small farmers in the ganja industry… We must give them a chance to be part of the industry… so that they can make money for this country and for themselves,” he stressed.

Under a PNP Administration, Golding said home-based ganja production will be facilitated and integrated with licensed processors.

“We will lower the bar for small farmers to come into the formal industry. We will incentivise commercial and knowledge sharing relationships with the well capitalised processors to achieve win-win outcomes for large and small producers,” Golding promised.

“We will aggressively pursue export markets for quality Jamaican medicinal ganja, and we will legislate to create a comprehensive, lawful, ganja-based economy for the Rastafari community and the Maroons. They must be liberated to use and produce the ganja that they use as their sacrament,” he added.

A PNP-led Government, said Golding, will also focus on reviving and expanding the People’s Co-operative Bank to provide flexible credit so that small farmers can expand their production.

Currently, he alleged that many small farmers are “bawling for credit and can’t get it”.

Continuing, he said: “We will ensure that Jamaica’s remaining arable lands are not misdirected into other uses, undermining the future of our people because they can’t grow food.

“We will encourage larger producers to partner with small farmers in production ecosystems, building relationships to transfer technology and improve the efficiency of our farmers.”

Meanwhile, Golding said the PNP “recognises” the importance that the informal sector plays on economic development.

He explained that many entertainers and cultural creatives depend on that sector, noting that sound policy is needed to transform the sector.

“We will support the indigenous craft industry and its integration into the tourism industry.

“We will establish a musical heritage museum in Trench Town to honour the Wailers, Toots Hibbert, Alton Ellis, the Melodians and all the other icons of Jamaican popular music to emerge from that cultural mecca,” promised Golding.

He said the previous PNP Administration had started the transformation of the entertainment sector through the creation of a registry of practitioners and producers, and the creation of entertainment zones, among other things.

“… But since 2016, there has been no policy and little movement to move the creative sector forward,” suggested Golding.