Columns

Vision and strategy are still misunderstood

James Moss-Solomon

Sunday, January 13, 2013    

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THE recent speech by the Hon Prime Minister has not been well received by many sectors of the economy and citizenery (except for the diehard partisans). Therefore, I feel that there needs to be some clarification.

The many calls for the PM to use her considerable political capital in a positive way have been wasted as the statement achieved very little and diminished her image. This was a travesty on the part of those who advise her on matters of national importance and public relations.

The question of defence after you have been bowled is a futile display in cricket, as no matter how many times you rehearse the stroke you should have played, it does nothing to change the outcome. Thus the subsequent attempts to defend the speech can do little to recapture what should have been a memorable and constructive moment.

The silence by many groups is merely a Jamaican reluctance to say something that is not congratulatory while thinking it was foolish. It is a profound revelation of the hypocrisy that is endemic in our society.

The situation has passed and perhaps the only thing that can redeem that great mistake is an unbiased discussion of our real options, no matter how unpleasant they may be. There is no joy to be had by trying to pick the editorial in the Chicago Tribune apart in the usual tribal diatribe that lacks any logic.

When an article unites both PNP and JLP in righteous indignation, then perhaps the analogy of the proverbial stone thrown in the pig pen is appropriate. The entry of the speechwriters in the melee is similarly indicative; after all, didn't the PM say she wanted to be like Greece? So perhaps we can agree to a refocusing of certain meanings as a framework for intelligent discussion and action.

The word vision, as misused commonly by many persons, is expected to be a map of achievements. This is totally untrue, as Vision 2030 is a descriptive of what we would like to look like in the future, but it is not measurable by itself. For example, it does not say what our GDP will have to be in constant dollars in order to achieve that lovely heavenly state. It does not say how much we will have to earn in order to repay our loans and go to our beds unencumbered by debt.

The vision does not delineate the sacrifices that will have to be made in order to achieve the lofty dreams of a wonderful place to raise families in a crime-free environment that will be like paradise. This is supposed to happen without each of us knowing what our part in this play will be.

At least the vision of a heaven with rivers of milk and honey does suggest some appropriate behaviour in order to get a ticket on that train. Where do we buy a ticket that is not a lotto scam for the train to Jamaica 2030?

The framework of the plan identifies Parliament and the Cabinet as "the highest level" that is the political. The long-term vision is to be monitored in segments of three years, so perhaps the PM could have reminded us of the real progress. The plan identifies seven major platforms for the achievement of certain goals and rests heavily on the development of people. So why not let the "people" know about what they are expected to do this year from the outset, so that we can pursue the "wonderful performance" of last year with renewed vigour and determination?

I remain concerned and confused as to what role the IMF is scheduled to play on the road to paradise. I wonder if they have been given the script to study, or whether they have been confirmed in their role in the play. I wonder if they have even accepted the terms of their engagement, or whether this is another bad move like the unscrupulous show promoter who happily advertises artistes who have not been properly contracted and who become no-shows much to the anger of the paying public.

Big advertisement: "Yes, show fans, onstage live and direct on international night, the world acclaimed superstar band, the incredible IMF, singing an array of their spectacular international hits including Devalue my love, Sweet poverty, and their latest, Bad up Jamdown." Yes indeed!

Well, the strategic part of the vision should be full of important targets and responsibilities that have been agreed with the respective persons, starting with those that have installed themselves as the most important (perhaps Most Honourable) and the attached Cabinet. Their ability to deliver in various degrees must be the basis on which they are to be graded.

The other players such as civil society, the private sector and trade unions, must also be judged on their ability to perform in the achievement of the short-term strategies. So it is fair to say that the PM should have had something realistic to say about her ministers', Parliament's, and the private sector's performance or lack thereof. The clear burden of strategic performance does not rest solely on the shoulders of the PM, but she certainly is the person who should adjudicate on their performance appraisals.

If she failed to motivate them, then just say so and turn over a new page right at the start of the new year. I have no further tolerance for hidden facts and poor performances as we slide down the path to unbridled consumerism on the back of more debt. It's time for work and more work from every citizen, and PM, it is your job to tell them that the party is over. That is your duty, so don't hide from it in the vain hope of preserving political capital, otherwise you will soon preside over a hole in the ground that used to be Jamaica.

Yes, other countries have either taken different paths or been denied access, and the consequences have been in their faces. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and several countries in Africa have had 12 hours of power supplies per day, gasoline rationing, zero imports of foreign foods and luxury items and other austerity measures. Yes, I can remember the days in the 1970s when ships with oil were anchored in Kingston Harbour awaiting payments before unloading supplies.

So for me it is a little like 'been there, done that, lived through it, bought a generator and didn't die'. But for the majority who were not adults nor were even born then, there will be a rude awakening if the leaders of this country do not undertake their assigned roles. Yes, things can get worse, but things can also get better if we could just understand our respective assignments.

Dear Prime Minister, that is your job, and you need to take up the challenge or step aside and make way for someone who will. This is not about love or hate, party or no party, this is simply about doing what you have been elected to do, popular or unpopular, win, lose or draw. This is about the reality of executing a strategy.

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