KINGSTON — It is a well defined and accepted fact that any true measurement of growth in a country goes beyond the narrow parameters of financial and infrastructure development, and Vision 2030 Jamaica is aiming to do exactly that.
Like many other developing countries around the world, Jamaica, and it could be said some developed countries too, has not lived up to its full economic potential, suffering over the years from low levels of economic growth, national overspending, high levels of national debt, crime and violence and a myriad of other indicators of low performance.
Vision 2030, Jamaica's first long term development plan, was created with the goal of putting the country on the road to realiSing its potentials of becoming fully developed over the next 20 years. It aims to accomplish this, not just through the traditional notions of economic development by way of economic growth indicators or even through the proliferation of high-rise or multi-storey buildings, but by developing a society where people find it satisfying to be, making it the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
The Vision 2030 Jamaica plan has gained bi-partisan support from the two major political parties, which have signalled their acceptance that the vision is the way forward.
The plan, crafted and developed by Jamaicans, was designed with four national goals and 15 national outcomes.
These goals seek to empower Jamaicans to achieve their fullest potential, make Jamaica a more secure cohesive and just society, develop a prosperous economy and foster a healthy natural environment.
The outcomes emanating from these goals range from Jamaica developing a healthy, stable population, world class education and training, a stable macro-economy, an enabling business environment, energy security and efficiencies and a sustainable urban and rural development.
To achieve these goals and outcomes, Ministries, departments and agencies of Government, the private sector and the wider society will have to collaborate and forge partnerships to transform the society and allow the Jamaica to become developed.
The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has a key role to play in executing the plan, and Charles Clayton, a social sector specialist with the PIOJ, has the job of targeting the development of people and how they participate, by looking at areas such as health, education and training, social protection and culture, security and justice and the whole matter of governance.
He explains that this new approach (the Vision 2030 Jamaica plan) is far from an ‘academic’ exercise, but instead it pulls together best practices from different experiences. He says it is a strategy being employed to bring Jamaica back on level terms with other developed and developing countries embracing the model, which is putting them ahead as a modern society.
“What we’re looking at is a society in which people find it pleasant to live, in anyway that they choose. This means good health, good education, comfortable buildings, and where people are not at any disadvantage and where they can achieve their objectives in life by living here,” he said.
He explains that economic growth was once used as the primary target to measure development, but the current strategy looks more to the human development index, a composite index that takes into consideration the social, economic and environmental components.
“So for example, literacy, life expectancy and income are all components of this human development index, and it gives a pretty good idea of how countries are developing along those lines. We’re not going to be only focusing on the economy, the social, as has happened in the past, or the environment. We’re saying for development to take place in a meaningful way, we have to look at all four areas, environment, economy, security of the nation and the people,” he pointed out.
This approach has to be adopted before arriving at ‘development’ in any balanced way, creating a long term development plan for Jamaica, by putting the country on the road to becoming a developed country by the year 2030. Hence full bipartisan and islandwide community involvement was sought in the lead-up to the promulgation of the Vision 2030 Jamaica plan.
Describing Jamaica’s national development plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, as a catalyst with the potential to galvanise Jamaicans to make the kind of progress desired, Mr. Clayton says without the plan the country would be doing a lot of things unnecessarily.
“So the plan itself offers a framework around which we can plan, organise ourselves and measure where we’re heading as a country. It is also a product around which we can become more united, across politics, religion and segments of society,” he said.
As outlined in the ‘popular version’ of the Vision 2030 Jamaica plan, under the first Goal, themes to be pursued include: developing an affordable health care system, with services accessible to everyone and where facilities are well equipped and fully staffed with competent personnel; and developing an education system that enhances access to sound early childhood, primary and secondary schooling, and ensuring that graduates from the secondary level are primed and ready to advance to the tertiary level, training or work.
Charles Clayton explains that what makes achieving these goals important, is the fact that the Vision 2030 Jamaica plan offers a ‘road map’ to a desirable place where every Jamaican can live, raise their families and do business, organise themselves and measure where they are headed as a country.
“We recognise that our labour market is not restricted to Jamaica, we’re now in a global environment. We want our workers to be competitive with workers who might come here. We also want them to be competitive in other places, if they should choose other careers, if they are not managed here in Jamaica,” he said. This, in effect, gives rise to the development of a world class education and training system here in Jamaica.
Other outcomes emanating from Goal One of Vision 2030, include the development of effective social protection to ensure, among other things, that welfare assistance reach the most needy, that persons receiving assistance are treated with dignity, that persons with disabilities are given equal access.
Opportunities to provide a reasonably good living must also be made accessible for poor families.
“We need to create among our people a mind set that is positive. You know the 'nutten naah gwaan' mind set, we want to do away with that. We want people to see themselves as authors of their future, that they have it in their hands to do,” he said.
“The Vision 2030 Jamaica plan is not an ‘academic plan,” Mr. Clayton points out, “but rather a road map for getting Jamaica to a place called ‘developed."
He also adds that “keeping it real and achievable” would mean, in a practical way, to achieve the small things that affect the daily lives of every Jamaican. By doing so, implementing the big things should then become easier, since all the ‘little parts’ would have already been in place.
The Vision 2030 Jamaica plan is really a framework for looking at the big picture, and for making fundamental changes in the Jamaican society that can bring about changes in all spheres of life. Jamaica then would truly be on track, to having the vision of being a place where people would consciously and deliberately, as is done in other developed countries, choose to live, work, raise families and do business by the year 2030.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS Information Officer