It has come to my attention that the church leadership in Jamaica, in recent statements, have not only denounced horse racing on Sunday at Caymanas Park, but also my administration's proposal to introduce a City Lotto (lottery) to help finance the KSAC's budget, as well as help relieve unemployment in the Corporate Area and other parts of Jamaica.
There are over 200 people employed at Caymanas Track Limited on a typical race day. This business also provides employment for 160 people on a part-time basis and 184 people are permanently employed.
As a trainer of horses, I am closely connected to racing at Caymanas Park, and while I fully subscribe to the nation's moral agenda, I think that horse racing is being unfairly targeted because of the betting aspect of the industry, while ignoring other aspects, including the fact that it employs approximately 20,000 Jamaicans and is already severely limited by the provisions of the Betting and Gaming Act, which has created a legal environment which, effectively, stifles its growth.
However, on this occasion, as chairman of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), I am responding primarily to the issue of the City Lotto, which I have been promoting to increase revenues needed to meet the challenges of the municipality.
I have heard church spokesmen suggesting that even if the lotto provides jobs for 7,000 people, as we have projected, thousands more would be affected by the betting aspect. But I wish to explain to them that the lotto would not only produce 7,000 jobs, but the profits would benefit some 700,000 residents of Kingston and St Andrew, whose roads and drains would be rehabilitated, as well as thousands of homeless and indigent people who need shelter, food and clothing, which we cannot provide without the resources to do so.
I would like to ask these church leaders, how come they found it so comfortable and spiritual to pour millions of dollars, collected from thousands of poor members islandwide, into schemes like Olint and Cash Plus and lose those funds, and have never even had the decency to apologise publicly for both participating and promoting these schemes, which have destroyed thousands of Jamaicans financially?
I am not attacking the church or trying to be mean to its leaders, but I believe that in following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, they should be honest and fair and not as self-centred as they appear to be in this issue.
Remember Matthew 7:3, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
Cllr Lee Clarke
Mayor of Kingston