In the beginning there was formless matter called chaos. The Bible and other accounts suggest that God made matter or form out of that Chaos and that is the start of the Universe. Philosophers may well ask the question “who made chaos”, not really expecting an answer. Well now, without any need to go into Quantum Physics, the answer is Donald Trump.
I have resisted temptation for many months as I had predicted his win before the election, but few wished to discuss that article and preferred to put their head in the sand, without realizing that assuming that position exposes one’s posterior regions to unseen ravages. Every day POTUS conjures some contrary situation that completely eclipses those of the previous day or week.
It is a roller coaster ride that to some extent makes no immediate impact on Jamaica. Well unfortunately the random chaos is forming closer to home and it is time for us to lift up our heads and become alert and decisive. Russia, North Korea, NATO, the EU, Venezuela, and now Cuba; the chaos grows much closer to our home. China now has an easier route towards regional conquest.
Prime Minister Holness has been on the record questioning the value of CARICOM, and also signaled a desire to have a closer relationship with the Northern Caribbean (meaning Cuba and the DR). Suddenly the dream of teaming with them in Tourism, Manufacturing, and Investment, requires immediate recalibration. Donald Trump; Brexit; China’s expansion; widespread terrorism and retaliation; France’s possible exit from the EU; the changing location of the World’s Financial Centres; and crime in Jamaica; are merely a few ingredients that add complexity to the Chaos Theory that confronts our small island home.
How will we attract the American tourists who were planning to vacation in Cuba? What is the current status of the cruise ship that leaves Montego Bay for a one week circumnavigation of Cuba? Is there a possibility for small airline connections to Cuba, and the DR? Can we get to Central and South America without a US Visa? What is the possibility for Private Partnerships with the Cuban Government without recriminations? Will the changes within the FBI lessen or increase the demand for extradition of scammers and related parties?
Questions, questions, and more questions, such is the nature of chaos. But our own survival lies in seeking answers and developing alternative strategies in these troubling times. Self-reliance, the Garvey Principle needs serious attention, and guides us through some more modern terminologies. These include: food security; savings and investment; scientific education; respect for laws; courtesy; and honesty. None of these should require a long debate; however their implementation requires a kind of change leadership that can unite Jamaica.
The third series of heavy rains will slow agricultural growth. Construction of roads and works by their very complexity must use more machinery than labour; block and steel must be compared to pre-stressed concrete and formed home building; and Chinese contractors will bring an efficiency that will challenge local firms (who may be influenced by political party members for workers without skills or work ethics) , and local production.
So our concern must be with 5 in 4 growth target as inflation is not fully controlled, so the debt target moves with every depreciation of the Jamaican dollar. Full transparency is required as reciprocal data. The Government must control and report monthly on the progress with Civil Service reform and mergers and divestments for efficiency. The Private Sectors must provide details of the volumes and values of exports by product category and destination.
These reports can be handled by a part of the Growth Council so as to ensure some levels of brand confidentiality. But, make no mistakes, the data is essential for policies that directly facilitate and encourage productivity, production, and growth. The current attitude/choice of doing nothing while awaiting the arrival of a perfect world is an unacceptable consideration at this time.
As I have previously alluded in previous articles, the carrot is a very effective policy measure. I therefore offer for consideration the following prescriptions:
- Review all incentives/exemptions and list the outcomes that were a part of the original considerations.
- Measure all outcomes achieved (like a PEER review).
- List all achievements or failures over the period of the incentives.
- Where the obligations are not being achieved, then a time deadline (not exceeding 1 year) must be set for the discontinuation of the incentives that have not met the policy objectives by that time.
- Any new measures/exemptions given to firms or industries in the future must contain the features of continuity based on performance.
If any Government now or in the future was bold enough to monitor and adjudicate these areas, then we could “watch Jamaica grow” through mobilizing the finance and skills of the Private Sector. The same should apply to Government departments and statutory bodies.
Jamaica needs unity in tackling emerging challenges, and leadership is required in leading the change without fear. This is a new world that changes daily. It is a world in which progress is taking place in countries that were far behind us and have now surpassed us in every development evaluation done by international agencies.
It is important that we end the debates and time-wasting dialogues. It is a time for action.