Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says productivity is the most pressing development issue at present, and there is need for the country to revolutionize its approach to the matter.
“Productivity happens to be at the heart of any strategic action we will contemplate for the future, whether at the level of the enterprise or of the country. If we do not seek to put drastic improvements in productivity at the centre of our concerns to energize for action, in respect of the opportunities before us, then success for growth and the full development of our potential will continue to elude us,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Kellier was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the 31st Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) annual three-day Business and Workplace Convention and Expo, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on May 2.
The Minister said he is aware that some business enterprises have been laying the groundwork in preparation for the opportunities that may arise when the present economic recession would have passed, and unless the issue of improvement in productivity is given keen attention, the expected benefits will not materialize.
Presenting data to support his point, he stated that research done by the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) within the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is showing that between 1972 and 2007 the country’s labour productivity has been declining at an average annual rate of 1.5 per cent.
He also noted that productivity involving labour, capital, energy and other inputs, has declined by an average annual rate of 1.74 per cent over the same period.
“The upshot of this has been slow and low growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and literal stagnation in the GDP per capita, or the standard of living for most Jamaicans,” the Minister said.
He emphasized that it is important to note that Jamaica is not the only country in the region that is so affected.
The Minister said that the tri-partite movement of Labour, Management and Government have a crucial role to play regionally in going forward, in reversing productivity decline and accelerating economic growth.
Mr. Kellier added that as globalization deepens, improvements in productivity will become increasingly important to competitiveness and integration into the global economy.
Meanwhile, President of the JEF, David Wan, said the Convention and Expo come at a very opportune time for the government, private sector and the country as a whole.
He expressed the view that against the background of the recently signed deal between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the government, both private and public sectors will have to become much more efficient.
“We will have to do more with less, and a large part of this is optimizing the human talent we have in place,” Mr. Wan said.
The three-day event is being held under the theme: ‘Energize for action….our cause…our call’.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter