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Dr. Herbert Thompson, President of the Northern Caribbean University, called for the creation of a new culture in the Jamaican society to allow for the achievement of good governance. He was one of the panelists at yesterday’s (December 8, 2005) discussion on governance at the Cabinet Office. Dr. Thompson outlined ten areas which he thinks that the country should address in order to create the environment for good governance. Among them teenage pregnancy and single parent households, the deification of dons and community leaders, dancehall and the culture of violence, squatting and land capture, garrison constituencies, corruption in law enforcement and the link between political parties and gangs.
Dr. Thompson also spoke of the country’s tolerance of roadblocks as an acceptable form of protest. “The governed has a right to disagree with those who govern but must keep the protest and dissent within the confines of the law. Those who break the law by openly obstructing the free flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic must be brought to book”, he said.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Carlton Davis said that governance was more than a matter between government and the people it represents or governs and includes the private sector and NGO community. He said that the traditions and institutions of the state, the capacity of the government to effectively manage its resources and implement sound policies, and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them were included in a more inclusive concept of governance. The Cabinet Secretary’s presentation focused on “the role of the techno-bureaucrats in ensuring good governance”.
Dr. Davis said that techno bureaucrats who comprise the technical and administrative personnel in the public sector, needed to have the “relevant values and attitudes” such as proper ethical behaviour and “fairness” in the discharge of their duties in order to ensure good governance. He also listed substantive knowledge in diverse areas, skills derived from experience relating to the procedures of government including the public expenditure process, administering statute, laws and piloting legislation through the various stages among the competencies that were required. He said that these and other skills were required for the bureaucrat to operate in a changed local and international environment and to achieve the accepted standard of good governance.
Professor Trevor Munroe spoke on the topic “good governance, the issues and challenges in the public sector.” He said that both perception and reality “converged in giving Jamaica a passing grade in terms of mainly state centered indicators of good governance.” The panel discussion was held under the theme “Good governance, perception versus reality.”
The panel discussion was the second in a series of monthly panel discussions being put on by the Cabinet Office. Next month’s panel discussion will focus on Jamaica’s role in the international arena.