Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PM should look to Master Plan

Jamaica Observer column | 14 January 2013 
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
(revised for Blog)

Prime Minister Simpson Miller

Imagine if the prime minister had opened her speech with: "Fellow Jamaicans, my Government would like to show solidarity with you our people. My Cabinet and members of parliament have decided to take a 10 per cent pay cut. All the advisors we have hired have also agreed to have their fees rolled back."

Such an opening would have wiped away our cynicism. Instead, we were given a pale performance, mercifully in a short 15 minutes. I admit that some solid work has been done in the past 12 months in most ministries, but it really has not been a sparkling first year.

I do not believe the PM was adequately served when she faced the teleprompter to have her address to the nation recorded. Barbara Gloudon's Pantomime, Schoolaz (catch it soon — it's great fun) has a comical take on how audiences get into a stupor when speeches miss the mark.

National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Nothing beats inspiring content and credibility. It is puzzling that our leaders are not quoting Jamaica's first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, in their speeches — talk about power and purpose! Imagine using this moving Garvey quote: "The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself, but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity." When the speaker gives the word, the receiver needs to believe in the speaker's sincerity to be in any way moved. Garvey took risks, sailed the high seas, went to jail for his beliefs. The Jamaican people are really not sure if any active politician has a fire in his or her belly for the nation, or just a belly for power.

The Jamaican public should know that the country does have a way out of this slump: a Master Rationalisation Plan (MRP) for Jamaica's public sector developed over three years in consultation with the Permanent Secretaries' Board, inspired by successful international models and supported by grants from the UNDP and IADB.
This was accomplished by the Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU) headed by the excellent Patricia Sinclair-McCalla, whose mandate was "to facilitate the establishment of an efficient, responsive and cost-effective framework of operations for the public sector, consistent with good governance, in order to promote national growth and development."

A voluntary body called the Consultative Monitoring Group (CMG) spent long hours reviewing findings and making recommendations for this comprehensive MRP. The CMG was chaired by that unflagging patriot, Peter Moses, city country officer, Citibank Jamaica. Other members were Ambassador Douglas Saunders, cabinet secretary; Dr Wesley Hughes, former financial secretary; Professor Alvin Wint, University of the West Indies (UWI); Wayne Jones, trade union representative; and yours truly.

So impressive is the MRP, that it is being viewed as a model to be used in several other countries. Unfortunately, only 20 per cent of the recommendations have so far been accepted by our Cabinet for implementation. There is, of course, a great deal of fear surrounding job cuts, but there are many public servants who are about to retire, and those may well make up the majority of cuts needed.

There are also models of privatisation that can be applied for certain agencies and departments, such as the Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) implemented at the former Government Printing Office.
And so we are back at Marcus Garvey, whose gospel of self-reliance is what our leaders should be preaching. Why are we not more dedicated to Garvey's philosophy? Is it because once a man is educated, he will no longer want to hang out of a bus window ringing a bell or waving an orange flag? Is it because education will prevent folks from swallowing those platform platitudes?

"Transformation of the public sector is an imperative that must be dealt with expeditiously if the country is to move forward in achieving national growth and development," wrote Mrs Sinclair-McCalla in her December progress report published on the Cabinet Office website. "The political will to make this happen is critical for this to be a reality."
Having been so up close and personal to the work of the PSTU, and having worked with another public body, the EAC/ECJ as they reformed our electoral system, I know how complex and difficult change can be.

The reason that the then EAC was able to reform those laws eventually was that there was consensus among the political parties and strong independent members. I hope therefore that the next step will be for Government to form such a group so they can agree on the way forward for this important Master Rationalisation Plan. Hopefully, this plan and willing hands were the stars of the just concluded Cabinet retreat.

  • DT a day ago

    All these speakers do is speak, they have no action in them and this is because they have no idea how to fix the problems. The govt was elected by the people to serve the people but they are only serving themselves. The JLP took a paycut and ask the PNP to follow suit but they refused. This goes to show that they are there only for the money and not to serve the Jamaican poeple. If you are a bank manager, store manager or a factory worker and you are not performing up to standard on a consistent basis you will be terminated. In Ja politics you can underperform, steal, cheat and lie and not only remain in the job you will also get a pay increase. Only god can help Ja.

  • Tom Stroke a day ago

    The more I read how great Mama P can be, is
    the more I am happy I removed my children from Jamaica. For what is a great speech, when it appears that if the PNP is travelling from Constant Spring to Stony Hill they cannot even negotiate the corner called ‘Red Gal Ring’ much less negotiate an IMF deal? This is precisely the problem with Jamaica, many spent the decade of the 1970s listening to Michael Manly and gazing up on his portrait hanging on their wall, meanwhile Jamaica fell apart. As grandma often warn: “do not listen to the noise of the market, but mek sure you get you correct change”, I am happy my children will not be exposed to the ravages of the PNP the way I was. Thanks IMF for insisting for the right things to be done for Jamaica
    to move forward.

    • PLBOGLE Tom Stroke 21 hours ago

      Uncle Tom, please let Michael Manly rest in peace! How much the world has changed from the 1970s? We now have internet, cell phone, flat screen TV, run flat tires, and iPad tablet. We can no longer blame Michael Manly for our failures.

      • Tom Stroke PLBOGLE 18 hours ago

        I do not want to sound harsh brother-man, however such simplistic argument as the one you presented here is another obstacle to Jamaica. Even with the magic of Mr Seaga during the 1980s, do you believe Jamaica has
        recovered from the GDP it lost in the 1970s? Add this loss to his short stint in the 1990s where he went about selling Jamaica’s assets including those that were nailed down or had a big stone place on it, has Jamaica recovered from that also? What about the massive slide in the Jamaican dollar during the early 1990s? I could go on and on, however, if you are making the argument that what PJ Patterson and Omar did appear to pale in comparison, I will accept that argument, but the effects of good ole Michael is still here with us.

  • jamdun a day ago

    We need action..not better speeches

  • Milo 4 hours ago

    The premise of the headline is that there is, a Master Plan. If there is one it is well hidden.

  • best-government 2 hours ago

    Simple question "can depth be found in shallow waters: ??.

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