Recommendations aimed at inducing short and medium term economic growth in Jamaica, have been included in a strategy developed within the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
The document, a Growth Inducement Strategy for Jamaica in the Short and Medium Term, was developed through a special secretariat established within the PIOJ. It establishes a strategic framework for robust economic growth, aligned with Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030.
Approved by Cabinet and endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Growth Inducement Strategy seeks, through proactive partnership between the government and the private sector, to build and sustain an enabling environment for creative and enterprising stakeholders.
A synopsis of the 170-page strategy was presented during the PIOJ’s recent Growth Strategy Symposium, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, by the agency’s consultant on the project, Professor Don Harris.
Professor Harris highlighted several concerns arising during consultations which the Secretariat held with a wide cross section of stakeholders, which were deemed barriers to economic development.
These factors, he said, were supported by a “systematic assessment” of commonly regarded and recognized constraints to economic activity in Jamaica, based on surveys and reports developed by international agencies, such as the World Bank, Transparency International, and the World Economic Forum. Among the issues were challenges related to crime and violence, energy, finance and taxation.
On the matter of crime, Professor Harris pointed to the fact that any development of an economic policy would require a firm grip on associated challenges.
“But, we also argue strongly, that there is need to address the problem from the standpoint of bringing back those communities that have been destroyed by economic distress and volatility and violence,” he stressed. He cited the Community Renewal Programme as an effort to “grapple” with the situation in a “systematic and serious way”.
The Programme, which is being implemented through the PIOJ’s Community Renewal Secretariat, aims to guide the design and implementation of violence reduction and community development projects, in 100 of the most vulnerable and volatile communities.
“We’re not saying that community renewal is crime reduction. We’re saying community renewal must be the basis on which the social structures in these inner city communities are reconstituted, in order to make them viable,” consultant said.
Other factors Professor Harris highlighted included: inadequate technology applications in business; idle and under-utilized public and private sector assets; abundant under-utilized liquidity; and matters related to the built and natural environment.
In addition to the recommendations on crime and violence and asset mobilization, Professor Harris pointed to the need for collaboration and partnerships among large and micro, small and medium sized business enterprises, to create an environment conducive to facilitating efficiency by all stakeholders.
Regarding the built and natural environments, Professor Harris lamented the tremendous cost the country incurs, annually, from infrastructural damage and destruction, consequent on a range of hazards such as hurricanes, and, invariably, earthquakes.
“We say let’s systematically attack those issues, by upgrading the infrastructure of the country, improve the roads, improve the embankments, introduce better gully management,” he said.
Professor Harris pointed out that the Growth Inducement Secretariat’s mandate was not for a long term development plan, which already exists in the Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan.
“We believe those should constitute a guide to the way in which we think about policy, and the way in which we design policy, and we took very great care, indeed, in designing this strategy in thinking about those goals and trying to map the strategy into those goals,” he said.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter