VIDEO: A New economic plan for Jamaica
Professor Donald Harris outlines PIOJ growth plan for JamaicaFriday, March 18, 2011
By Al Edwards
Professor Donald Harris of Stanford University is one of the architects behind the Planning Institute of Jamaica's (PIOJ) Growth Inducement Strategy for Jamaica in the Short and Medium Term Plan which was launched earlier this week.
Yesterday he was the special guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Kingston Luncheon held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, In New Kingston where he took the time to outline key features of this new plan to get the country's economy on a path to growth.He said the working document has already been submitted to the Cabinet of the Government of Jamaica and it has essentially approved it as framework for guiding its current fiscal programme over a three-year budget cycle. In effect it will become an action programme in dealing with the critical problems the country faces.
"If properly executed and implemented it can make a significant contribution to the progress of the country. Entrepreneurs and members of civil society have a crucial role to play here. A big problem Jamaica has is implementation and there have been many plans written and nothing much came of them."
Professor Harris said that the redevelopment of downtown Kingston has a big part to play in creating employment for communities that reside in the area. A main component of this new plan is to unleash and facilitate the undoubted entrepreneurial dynamism found in Jamaica. Professor Harris sees this as a way to unlock wealth and create an environment where business owners can make not just an economic contribution but also a social one. Here he sees a blend of big and small firms unfetted by supply-side constraints. Emphasis in this regard must be placed on networking. At this time there is no discernible partnership between government and the private sector. In fact the private sector is regarded warily. Professor Harris sees both parties as natural partners and so should work together to that end. The burden of job creation cannot be placed solely at the feet of the government. Likewise the private sector must ensure that its workforce are adequately attended to.
Another way to bolster the economy is to put in place infrastructure investments which will help to create jobs. Here he said the PIOJ team has already held constructive talks with the Minister of Transport Mike Henry. As it now stands both the road works and public transportation system are woefully inadequate and need attention.
"There must be better social inclusion through community renewal. It is vitally important that greater social equity is exhibited in Jamaica. It cannot be a case that only the big man can and is seen to prosper. Many amenities that the middle classes take for granted are not afforded to many citizens. Here I am talking about decent toilet facilities, running water, electricity and school books. That has to change."
He further added that the tax system needed to be overhauled and that the cost of energy was prohibitive to both residents and the business sector and would have to be re-examined. The cost of capital also had to be looked at with a view to making the country more competitive.
"Crime and corruption were seen as the major constraints to economic growth. Also the cost of operating a business particularly electricity were cited in a survey conducted. The access to finance and macro-economic instability were also noted.
If the government injected J$14.4 billion of the budget into this newly formulated plan it would spell an immediate growth of 1.58 per cent. This comes against the background that there has been no growth for a considerable period, "said Professor Harris.
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