KINGSTON — Programme Manager of the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) Plan Development Unit, Richard Lumsden, has reported significant gains in five key areas pivotal to the success of the National Development Plan, Vision 2030.
He cited education status, labour force quality, national security, justice and economic growth as the key areas, and noted that for January to March 2011, progress had been recorded in each category.
Mr. Lumsden was speaking at the quarterly press briefing at the PIOJ, Oxford Road, New Kingston on Friday (May 20).
Vision 2030, which is being spearheaded by the PIOJ, seeks to position Jamaica to achieve developed country status, based on a comprehensive vision of the country being the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
Mr. Lumsden, Programme Manager for the Vision 2030 Secretariat, noted that labour force quality continued to improve over the quarter, with an average of 23 per cent of the total labour force having vocational or professional certification, based on the quarterly labour force survey for January 2011. This was up from 20.4 per cent in the January 2010 survey.
Regarding security, Mr. Lumsden said that with respect to major crimes, which included carnal abuse, rape, murder, shooting, robbery, break-ins and larceny, 95 per 100,000 of the population were committed January to March 2011. This represented a decline of 9.2 per cent, from 105 per 100,000 of the population recorded in the similar period of 2010.
The murder rate for the quarter was nine per 100,000 of the population, down 43.2 per cent from 16 per 100,000 over the similar period in 2010.
“We note that, if this trend continues through the rest of this year, we would meet the target for 2015 on this indicator,” he stated.
Mr. Lumsden also stated that likely contributory factors to the fall in the crime rate included the strategic intervention of the security forces in key locations, to disrupt the activities of major gang networks, increased collaboration between citizens and the security forces and increased proactivity and use of technology driven policing methods.
“The government continues to consolidate these gains through steps, such as the implementation of the Community Renewal Programme (CRP), which is now under way, strengthening the Independent Commission of Investigations and ensuring provision of infrastructure and social services in vulnerable communities,” he remarked.
In the area of education, Mr. Lumsden noted that there were two main indicators, including adult literacy and gross enrollment at the tertiary level. He said that the adult literacy rate for persons 15 years and over rose to 91.7 per cent for 2010. This represented an increase of 4.9 per cent over the estimated rate of 86.8 per cent for 2009.
“We would note that this figure meets the target that we had set for 2015,” Mr. Lumsden said. He also noted that the final figure for the gross enrollment rate at the tertiary level in the academic year 2009/2010 had increased to 32.8 per cent, compared to 30.8 per cent for the academic year 2008/2009.
Turning to justice, Mr. Lumsden said that the case clearance rate in the Resident Magistrates’ Court, or the ratio of new cases filed to cases disposed of, rose to 94 per cent in 2010, up from 80.1 per cent in 2009.
He pointed out, however, that this excludes the data on traffic matters, which were provided for the first time this year.
“If traffic matters are included, then the case clearance rate would fall to 63.7 per cent,” he explained.
On the final goal of economic growth, Mr. Lumsden noted that the per capita Gross Domestic Product, expressed in nominal or current United States dollars, rose to US$4,891 in 2010, up 1.2 per cent from US$4,823 in 2009. This was based on an increase in nominal GDP and an appreciation in the exchange rate of the Jamaican dollar.
“This economic indicator is expressed as a moving three year average to smooth out annual fluctuations and show the underlying trends,” he stated.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter