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Private sector group wants PM to make Cabinet changes

PSOJ president calls for Cabinet shuffle

Friday, September 05, 2014    

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CHRISTOPHER Zacca, president of the powerful Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), last night urged Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to shuffle her Cabinet.

Zacca, who gave the keynote address at the 12th anniversary meeting of the Kiwanis Club at Meadowvale, held at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston, said it was time for the prime minister to "reshape and refresh" the executive.

The PSOJ president, however, singled out four Cabinet ministers for their performance -- Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller; Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips; Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding; and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke, who died in Florida last week Thursday.

"Tough and necessary measures are having a positive effect on our image and our macroeconomic indicators, but something seems to be missing," Zacca told Kiwanians and guests.

He said that, despite the reports of "good fiscal and financial progress" that the Government has been making, public speakers, like himself, were still forced to ask questions about the progress of the country.

"Where is the huge surge in business confidence? Why aren't all business people standing up and saying, hooray?" he asked.

He said that the hand of Government that is in charge of the fiscal and financial affairs could try as hard as it could to clap and make a loud sound, but "we won't hear any sound or feel the strong positive effects that the reform programme is attempting to produce" unless the other hand that deals with improving international competitiveness tries just as hard.

Zacca said that Jamaica was going through extremely tough times, brought on by years of mismanagement and debt accumulation.

"I would, therefore, like to recommend to the prime minister that at this juncture it is time that, she reshapes and refreshes the structure and composition of her Cabinet, and make the necessary changes that would create the best possible structure and team available to guide us into international competitiveness, growth and development," Zacca told the meeting.

"We in civil society need to believe that we have the best Cabinet possible in place, and we need to feel results that drive international competitiveness and the consequent ease of doing business, being delivered by that body. Once we see that both hands of the Government are starting to clap, then, and only then, will we all as a society, as social partners, really have the confidence to stand up and say hooray and take both our hands and give the Government a loud clap and a tremendous round of applause," he stated.

Referring to Wednesday's report that Jamaica had moved up eight places on the Global Competitiveness Index and has been ranked 86 out of 144 countries for 2014/15, Zacca said that, while the improvement should be lauded, it was not good enough.

"This lowly position is nowhere good enough for Jamaica to transform its economy. We need to set ourselves an emergency short-term goal to get to 50th in the world within the next two years, and this goal should drive everything that we do as a Government and as a nation," he suggested.

He said that the implementation of the necessary conditions for competitiveness should be the first and foremost job of the Government, starting with the Cabinet and individual portfolio ministers, and supported by the Parliament. But he said that the rest of the Jamaican society also has a big role to play in supporting the efforts of the Government through the social partnership of public and the private sectors, labour, and civil society.

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