- Several public and private leaders are of the view that Jamaica has recorded milestone achievements, since gaining Independence in 1962.
- Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Valerie Veira, tells JIS News that notable achievements have been recorded in the Micro, Small, and Medium-size Enterprise (MSME) and early childhood education sectors, and access to land, three areas she deems particularly important.
- In relation to the early childhood sector, Ms. Veira says she is “happy (with) and encouraged by” the extent of work undertaken in this area thus far by the Education Ministry.
Several public and private leaders are of the view that Jamaica has recorded milestone achievements, since gaining Independence in 1962.
Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Valerie Veira, tells JIS News that notable achievements have been recorded in the Micro, Small, and Medium-size Enterprise (MSME) and early childhood education sectors, and access to land, three areas she deems particularly important.
As regard MSMEs, Ms. Veira describes the recognition and support it currently receives from the private and public sectors as “significant,” with the firm belief that “this is the sector that is the backbone of any economy.”
As such, she hails the undertaking of successive administrations to advance the legislative and policy frameworks that will support the sector’s continued growth.
“I am pleased with what has taken place so far… (and) I expect much more. It is a major development, because it means we have recognized persons from the grassroots as being an integral part of that process of economic development,” the CEO says.
In relation to the early childhood sector, Ms. Veira says she is “happy (with) and encouraged by” the extent of work undertaken in this area thus far by the Education Ministry.
Noting that this is indicative of the Ministry’s recognition that if youngsters “get a good start” at this stage, it will redound to their and Jamaica’s long-term benefit, Ms. Veira says “we are moving in the right direction.”
As it relates to land, she lauds the administration’s titling programme under which property ownership is being formalized for persons occupying them for many years without the requisite legal documentation.
“I have seen persons who are 90 years old attending presentation ceremonies where they have finally received their titles, which they can now use as collateral in transactions. Additionally, that property can be inherited, because they are now able to pass it on legally to another generation, through a will,” she points out.
Ms. Veira also welcomes the work and decision resulting in Intellectual Property now being treated as assets, which can be used by the owners as collateral, where they do not possess traditional options such as land, describing this as a “levelling of the playfield.”
Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, William Mahfood, says the country’s achievements have been impactful at both the local and global levels.
Most notable among the local achievements, Mr. Mahfood tells JIS News, is the country evolving into an integrated society, fulfilling the nation’s motto: ‘Out of many, One People’.
“The fact that we have a truly integrated society has served as, and remains a model for a lot of (other) countries to use,” he says.
The President also lists development of the country’s tourism product and the industry and services sector among notable local achievements.
“When one looks, for example, at brands, such as Sandals, which originated out of Jamaica, it has grown and developed, and is currently ranked among the world’s leading all-inclusive resort chains. If you compare most of the world’s all-inclusive hotels, and associated tourism products, Sandals ranks as cutting edge, and remains very relevant, internationally,” he adds.
On the global stage, Mr. Mahfood cites the resonating impact which Jamaica’s culture, particularly Reggae, has had.
He also lists the country’s stance against the former South African Apartheid regime, as a key global achievement and points to the late former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Michael Manley’s uncompromising position in advocating restoration of the dignity and human rights of the persons who were subjected to the oppressive regime, which in part, contributed to its dismantling by the early 1990s.
Not to be left out is the phenomenal record-breaking exploits of Jamaica’s athletes over the years, which Mr. Mahfood points out, have been significantly amplified since the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, in China, and the 2009 World Athletics Championships, in Berlin, Germany.
Among Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Warren McDonald’s list is the country’s democratic system of government, which he notes, “has strengthened over time.”
In addition, he says Jamaica’s human rights record ranks among the best globally, pointing out that “we continue to enjoy freedom of expression…unlike many other countries.”
The JCC President also cites improvements in the delivery of quality education, particularly at colleges and universities, adding that “we have more tertiary students graduating now than ever before…certainly, before Independence.”
He further highlights significant strides made in advancing health care delivery; repositioning agriculture; developing the telecommunications infrastructure; and constructing major highway networks, and describes these as “great steps forward.”
Additionally, he notes advances made in sports and culture, which he argues, have repositioned Brand Jamaica, enabling it to gain global recognition, acclaim and acceptance.
Mr. McDonald, however, singles out Jamaica’s tourism industry as “one of our greatest achievements.”
“We have shown consistent growth (in this area) over the period since Independence, despite the many challenges,” he tells JIS News.
All in all, Mr. McDonald says Jamaica has made “serious progress” as a sovereign nation.
“I think we are now learning how to manage our affairs. I think we are seeing the Government committed to managing our affairs (through) fiscal discipline, among other things. The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce is optimistic about the future, and that things are on the way up,” he adds.
Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, also lists the country’s infrastructural development, advances in health care delivery and education, and the structure and system of government, among the “great achievements (recorded) for a small nation.”
“Unlike a lot of people who tend to think that nothing is happening, the small business sector, and from my perspective, we think that a lot has happened. I am proud of our accomplishments, even though I believe we could have achieved more with the resources that we have available,” he adds.
For her part, Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) President, Marjory Kennedy, cited increased access to education, significant infrastructural developments, and advances in governance structure, sports and culture as major achievements since independence.