Business

Nation needs to take the hard road — World Bank

BY PAUL ALLEN Business reporter allenp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 06, 2012    

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JAMAICA will have to endure harsh, unpopular measures if it's to get a new, more desirable economy, says the World Bank. It's not a matter of whether the people can learn, said Giorgio Valentini, the institution's representative to Jamaica, but that there's no agreement among the government, citizens and the private sector on the way toward a modern and competitive Jamaica.

Valentini was speaking to members of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica last week about Digital Jam 2.0, an event that looked at how to create and get online opportunities.

There needs to be greater focus on a knowledge society and creating a globally competitive economy. "Identify the key policies and experiences of other countries" in aiming for growth and development, he said, insisting that education for the entire population is not negotiable.

What's more, there should be a consistent push for the private sector to show excellence in all areas and create partnerships that can share knowledge and technology. "Policies that would open the information and communication technology (ICT), energy, logistics, tourism and other sectors would be needed to allow competition to enter Jamaica," he said, and to have partnership opportunities.

The economy needs to move away from the areas that it's always relied on and become more diverse, Valentini said. "A diversified and flexible Jamaican economy could focus on a few high-growth sectors" such as ICT, logistics and sports and heath tourism.

Even so, it's important that youth play an integral role in driving innovation through programmes like Digital Jam 2.0, he said, as the private sector could benefit from ideas of the youth which could solve problems of competitiveness while increasing ICT use for improving productivity.

There are no limits to the imagination of youth, Valentini said. However, unemployment for people in that age group is "crippling".

Digital Jam 2.0 is part of a co-ordinated response to severe youth unemployment and is a "prime example of low-cost, well-considered project that can advance several agendas at once, he said, noting that it's only a start at fixing the nation's problems.

Digital Jam 2.0 can help to provide a better quality of life for Jamaicans, if successfully followed, Valentini said, and it would also provide a lasting legacy of Jamaica 50 that would ensure the nation doesn't wait another fifty years to "turn a corner" and become a global economic winner.

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