The establishment of the Central Planning Unit (CPU) in 1955 was the product of a strong conviction on the part of the political party which came to power at that time, the People’s National Party and in particular of its leader, the Hon. Norman Manley, that planning was an essential requirement for successful economic and social development.
The concept of planning by the state has been for a long time the subject of deep differences — in large part on ideological and political grounds. It has been seen by some as an instrument closely associated with the communist regime in the Soviet Union whose Five-year Plans used to be much publicized. It has been associated with the issue of the role of the state in development, a matter which is still debated in Jamaica.
No one today, however, seriously questions the role of planning as a part of the management function, whether in the state system as a whole, in individual government agencies, in the private sector, or in other non-governmental spheres. What remains at issue is the nature and scope of the planning process in each case, and the question — who participates?
It is useful to take a look at the situation in Jamaica as it was in the mid-1950s. This was some seven years before the country achieved Independence, and some time after the establishment of a ministerial system, although this process was not yet complete. There were, for example, colonial officials in the Executive Council, which eventually gave way to the Cabinet. Jamaica had experienced just about 10 years of representative government with the introduction of Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944. But Jamaica was still a British Colony.
A new government was in place, drawn from a political party which had for 17 years expressed its ideologies and its views concerning governance and development and had for 10 years been the opposition party in Jamaica’s parliament.