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Is Vision 2030 within reach?

Conrad Hamilton

Tuesday, August 09, 2011    

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SERIOUS doubts are being raised regarding Jamaica's ability to achieve developed country status by the year 2030 under the Government's much-touted Vision 2030 Jamaica: National Development Plan.

In that document, tabled in Parliament in 2009, the Government articulates how it intends to make Jamaica "The place of choice, to live, work, raise families and do business".

The plan takes into account the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals — designed to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality rates, fight disease epidemics such as AIDS, and develop a global partnership for development by 2015 — and details specific changes that will be made and desired outcomes in agriculture, health, education and the economy.

But speaking yesterday at the weekly Observer Monday Exchange, director of consultancy firm Fitz Ritson and Associates, Karen Fitz Ritson, said if the country's leaders continue in the present vein, the stated objectives of the Vision 2030 plan will not be achieved.

According to her, Jamaicans need to take ownership of the process of moving the country forward.

"Every person, in their own way, needs to take ownership, and must be willing to make the little sacrifice today to make sure that you and your children and grandchildren can have a certain quality of life. We have robbed our future generations of what ought to have been rightfully theirs, because we have not planned properly," she lamented.

Addressing the same forum, accountant and financial analyst Dennis Chung stopped short of describing the plan as another pipe dream.

"I was a member of the National Services Task Force. I tell you, I told the Planning Institute of Jamaica, "we not getting there". [In] 2030 we will still be talking about energy, about crime and all of those things. There have been some structural shifts, but not enough to cause that change; oil is still 35 per cent of our imports," Chung stated.

However, vice-president of Strategic Planning, Projects and Product Development at Scotia Investments Dr Adrian Stokes expressed guarded optimism regarding the country's ability to achieve the stated targets. But he cautioned that this could only be realised in a climate of fiscal responsibility.

"We can be a developed country in 2030 if we do the right things. If you look over the last two years, we have seen significant improvements; multi-year lows in interest rates, mortgage rates have fallen rapidly, we have seen implementation of structural changes to the market and we have seen the results, so what we need is better management and we need structural changes to the rest of the economy. [The year] 2030 is still some time away, we can get there but only if we do the right.

"It's a political economy problem, will politicians do the right thing?" he asked.

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