Ja­maica has to make changes in the real sec­tor in 2020

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Mark Rick­etts

KEITH DUN­CAN, pres­i­dent of the Pri­vate Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica (PSOJ) and chair­man of JMMB, is a stout de­fender of the Gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ments in the area of macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity. Over the Christ­mas hol­i­day, he de­cided to ex­pand his fam­ily hori­zons about Ja­maica’s so­cioe­co­nomic prospects by tour­ing the in­ner city.

Who bet­ter than Dun­can to make this as­sess­ment? He is the son of the late Joan Dun­can, a banker, and an in­tel­lec­tual thinker who spent time ex­plor­ing de­fi­cien­cies in the money and cap­i­tal mar­kets. She per­sisted, even­tu­ally es­tab­lish­ing a fi­nance com­pany.

If his mother was strong on busi­ness and eco­nomics, his fa­ther, Dr DK Dun­can, was heavy duty as a pop­ulist and so­cial ac­tivist. Even at school at Ja­maica Col­lege, as young­sters, we al­ways ad­mired how much DK cared, had time to talk and share his knowl­edge, and even showed us bat­ting tech­niques in cricket where he was out­stand­ing.

So Keith, the prod­uct of an in­dul­gent so­cial­ist fa­ther and an in­sight­ful en­tre­pre­neur mother, should be the per­fect per­son to show his chil­dren an­other side of Ja­maica then write about its eco­nomic prospects and his pri­or­i­ties.

His col­umn, ‘Ja­maica’s re­al­ity and achiev­ing Vi­sion 2030’, ap­peared in last Sun­day’s Ob­server and opened with, “My chil­dren have grown up in­su­lated from the harsh re­al­i­ties of Ja­maica, and some of us, in our more priv­i­leged do­mains, look at the mur­der rates and poverty lev­els as sta­tis­tics un­til it comes too close to home.”

Dun­can took his chil­dren to Trench Town and vis­ited res­i­dents who had lost their pos­ses­sions in a fire. His re­sponse, “I know poverty is a real prob­lem in Ja­maica, but what my sons and I ob­served was ab­ject poverty. The hope­less­ness was de­press­ing, to say the least.”

While com­mend­ing the Gov­ern­ment for in­creas­ing re­sources through safety-net pro­grammes, he noted that “poverty lev­els at 19.3 per cent re­main a chal­lenge.” His pri­or­i­ties: a) The coun­try needs to get its pol­i­tics right as Ja­maicans have grown cyn­i­cal.

b) The coun­try with­out the IMF has to con­tinue re­duc­ing its debtto-GDP lev­els.

c) The coun­try needs a na­tional con­sen­sus on its crime strat­egy.

d) Ja­maica has to start in­vest­ing in peo­ple liv­ing in the most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties.

e) Ed­u­ca­tion needs bet­ter-qual­ity out­comes that will in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity, cre­ate higher-pay­ing

There is no lan­guage, leader, nor leg­is­la­tion, fos­ter­ing or en­sur­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity. So­cial dys­func­tion is at the root of our prob­lems.


Peo­ple are des­per­ate for hous­ing, and peo­ple are des­per­ate to earn in­comes to fa­cil­i­tate rental or own­er­ship, but pro­longed and sus­tained de­val­u­a­tion, com­bined with largely mis­guided ed­u­ca­tion poli­cies, have left many be­hind.

Keith Dun­can

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