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Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies, has said that the new public sector Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to be signed this afternoon (May 30), would provide for the retraining of workers to create a “leaner, more efficient public sector”.
“The government takes its commitment to do retraining and retooling and to provide a workforce, which is consistent with a modernised economy,” Minister Davies remarked as he addressed the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s annual economic seminar held this morning at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
Reiterating that one of the main purposes of the MoU was creating a more educated workforce, the Finance Minister said, “.that is the essence of the MoU.it is not simply about holding down wages; it is much more comprehensive in terms of leading to a more efficient government”.
Turning to the country’s output and the levels of productivity, the Minister noted that “the gap between us and too many countries is widening and therefore we have to speak to producing a labour force, which is able to compete”.
To this end, Dr. Davies pointed to the need for higher levels of investment in education and training but proposed that funding for such training should not come from existing taxpayers.
“We are not suggesting that you deduct even a cent from the asset base of the National Housing Trust (NHT).
What we are suggesting is that given the need for significant additional resources for education, which goes beyond what is available through HEART or the education tax, can we reallocate not from existing assets but for future inflows, which were say intended for NHT, towards the education transformation,” Minister Davies argued.
On the issue of public sector governance, the Finance Minister noted that, “we have to agree to establish clear, pragmatic rules by which all government institutions and public officials should operate”.
“To complement that,” he continued, “there must be similar rules about how all persons entrusted with funds.how they should operate. The laws should be clear, the punishment should be clear, and the implementation of those penalties should be expeditious, whether you are talking about governance in the private sector or governance in the public sector”.
The economic seminar was sponsored by Citigroup under the theme: ‘Jamaica – Building A Productive Nation’.