Editorial

Short on vision, Prime Minister

Tuesday, January 08, 2013    

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Governing a country is never easy. It is even more difficult when the country is faced with enormous social and economic challenges, as is the case with Jamaica.

The difficulties being encountered by the present Government are, in many instances, the same as those that confronted its predecessors. In all cases, those governments have had to report to an electorate impatient with the slow pace of the legislative and executive arms of the State.

The reaction to the present Government's first-year scorecard, delivered by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Sunday night, is therefore not surprising.

Peel away the emotional and politically partisan responses, and what we have are Jamaicans saying to the Government that it needs to deliver more than the hope that it promised during the campaign for the December 2011 general elections.

Any honest assessment of the prime minister's address to the nation on Sunday night will come to the conclusion that it was short on articulating a vision for the country.

Yes, the Government gets kudos for its achievements in the various sectors outlined by the prime minister, particularly the housing of sugar workers, the short-term Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, and in tourism, which is really a well-oiled machine that continues to be successful across administrations.

However, we had hoped that the prime minister would have shared with the country her Government's strategy for turning the economy around. Merely stating that her Administration is "committed to pursuing sound macroeconomic policies" and that the Government is aware that "economic growth requires economic discipline", does not give us a sense that the executive is fully focused on this most important issue.

For instance, Mrs Simpson Miller could have outlined a programme to grow small businesses which, she said in an address in December 2004, "build and maintain a country".

She could also have spoken to her belief that greater focus on rural development will grow our economy, and could have given specifics and timelines about what her Government intends to do.

Given the nature of politics and diplomacy, we did not expect the prime minister to publicly rate her ministers. However, as we stated last week, now is an ideal time for her to strengthen the executive by divesting it of the non-performers.

A year at the head of a ministry is enough reward for long service to the People's National Party and their contribution to the general election victory.

Prime Minister, the Cabinet should not go into retreat later this week with the dead wood. Spare them the embarrassment. Spare Jamaica the pain.

Appoint individuals who have the skills, energy and passion to improve the lives of the Jamaican people.

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