THE JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) is promising to create 250,000 jobs over the next five years if it forms the Government after the February 25 general election.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness made the pledge to the country at a JLP meeting in Junction, St Elizabeth, where he expressed that he was eager to get the opportunity to lead Jamaica again as prime minister.
"Probably the biggest disappointment for our young people is the promise that a jeep-load of jobs would come to you," said Holness.
The People's National Party (PNP) had promised the creation of short-term employment under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). PNP President, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, said more than 60,000 JEEP jobs have been created thus far.
Mindful of his St Elizabeth and Manchester audience, Holness said, "We will put in place a programme to train 10,000 young people in agriculture."
He said Sydney Pagon, Knockalva, and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education would be converted into "technologically driven agro parks so that our young people cannot just do the old practice of agriculture, but bring in technology in agriculture to triple and quadruple the yields of normal agricultural produce".
The jobs promised are part of the 250,000 new jobs which Audley Shaw, the spokesman on finance, said the JLP would create in the next five years.
"We are going to transform the same business process outsourcing ... . PNP say dem can create 30,000, 40,000 jobs; Labour Party say we can create 75,000 jobs in business process outsourcing," Shaw said.
He added: "If we can create nearly 100,000 jobs in that, we nuh can create 250,000 [sic 150,000] in everything else?"
The PNP, through campaign director Dr Peter Phillips, said that it would create a minimum of 100,000 jobs in the next term if re-elected.
Holness said that a JLP government would seek international funding to implement a massive water-improvement programme across the island.
"In the same way the Government has found money, through either developing an investment package or borrowing to build Highway 2000 and to complete the North South Highway, so too we must treat water as a priority for investment," Holness said.
The JLP leader said that the investment would lead to a minimum 15 per cent increase in agriculture over the next five years, which would result in at least one per cent of economic growth.
Holness said some of the jobs would come from community tourism, which would be expanded by improvements in the road and water infrastructure along Jamaica's south coast.
"We have a plan to develop the south coast, and that plan, when we put in tourism, lifestyle, housing, agriculture, housing, we can create, within this little zone here, more than 15,000 new jobs," Holness said.