Re­view­ing rec­om­men­da­tions of Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil

The pro­pos­als im­ply an ac­cep­tance that stronger and sus­tained growth will not re­sult solely from the pro­mo­tion of ma­jor in­vest­ment projects.

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Colin F. Bul­lock Colin F. Bul­lock is an econ­o­mist and a for­mer head of the Plan­ning In­sti­tute of Ja­maica. Col­bul3@gmail.com

AS RE­PORTED in print me­dia, the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC) pre­sented its rec­om­men­da­tions for stim­u­lat­ing stronger eco­nomic growth to Cab­i­net on Mon­day, Septem­ber 12. The rec­om­men­da­tions emerge from a broad process of con­sul­ta­tion with more than 80 en­ti­ties in­clud­ing “var­i­ous busi­ness groups, the con­fed­er­a­tion of trade unions, the Op­po­si­tion, pub­lic sec­tor agen­cies, min­istries of govern­ment, mem­bers of academia, the me­dia, diplo­matic mis­sions, and mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment agen­cies”. The process of con­sul­ta­tion has aimed at build­ing con­sen­sus for pri­ori­ti­sa­tion for im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The deputy chair­man of the EGC ad­mits re­al­is­ti­cally that “the so­lu­tions to Ja­maica’s prob­lems are not un­known. They lie in co­pi­ous re­ports, stud­ies, com­mis­sion find­ings, min­istry papers, and ex­ec­u­tive plans that lie in the fil­ing cab­i­nets of Govern­ment”. It comes as no sur­prise, there­fore, that the eight rec­om­men­da­tions be­ing ad­vanced by the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil largely mir­ror ear­lier rec­om­men­da­tions pre­sented in the Growth In­duce­ment Strat­egy (GIS) (2010) and the Growth Agenda Pol­icy Pa­per (GAPP) (2015): See ta­ble above. The pro­pos­als of the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil are use­ful as a re­state­ment and reaf­fir­ma­tion of un­der­stand­ings de­rived from ear­lier con­sul­ta­tions and analy­ses. They are pre­sented as pri­or­i­ties and un­der­stand­ably do not in­clude all the el­e­ments of ear­lier pro­pos­als. This pri­ori­ti­sa­tion is un­der­stood as fa­cil­i­tat­ing fo­cus and ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion. The deputy chair­man of the EGC is quoted as say­ing: “We have re­viewed many unim­ple­mented rec­om­men­da­tions and in­cluded the most im­pact­ful of th­ese.”

It is wor­thy of note that “im­proved ac­cess to fi­nance” is listed among the rec­om­men­da­tions. One takes hope from the com­po­si­tion of the EGC that this is­sue will be vig­or­ously and mean­ing­fully ad­dressed.

IM­PLIED AC­CEP­TANCE

There is an im­por­tant un­der­stand­ing that Ja­maica’s growth deficit is less in anal­y­sis and more in ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion. The pro­pos­als im­ply an ac­cep­tance that stronger and sus­tained growth will not re­sult solely from the pro­mo­tion of ma­jor in­vest­ment projects. It may be purely ac­ci­den­tal that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ma­jor strate­gic projects is re­port­edly last on the list of pro­pos­als. Flow­ing from this, there is an in­valu­able un­der­stand­ing that the com­plex and mul­ti­fac­eted ta­pes­try of growth fa­cil­i­ta­tion de­mands the en­gage­ment of an ef­fi­cient pub­lic ser­vice and the com­mit­ment and ef­fort of the wider so­ci­ety.

In look­ing for­ward, the role of the EGC, ei­ther in di­rect growth pro­mo­tion or in­di­rect en­gage­ment needs to be more fully de­fined. At the same time, pub­lic mon­i­tor­ing of the path­way to stronger growth re­quires a macroe­co­nomic blue­print of in­vest­ment and sec­toral ini­tia­tives as well as in­terim land­marks con­sis­tent with the ul­ti­mate tar­get. It is an­tic­i­pated that th­ese el­e­ments will be pro­vided in fu­ture re­ports of the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil.

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