Ronald Mason | A SWOT analysis
The year 2016 began in Jamaica with a great deal of uncertainty. There was talk of a general election and there were queries about a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement and whether we should even have one. The economy was of concern. The police force and crime was of concern and the perennial health care and education systems continued to underperform.
February saw the general elections and a change in government by the thinnest of a one-seat margin, primarily based on an unrealistic tax reform gift. Since then, the year has unfolded with lots of uncertainty. A SWOT analysis points to the following: Our biggest strength is the long-suffering patience of the Jamaican people. They continue, for the most part, to be passive observers to the shenanigans that pass for governance. They continue to watch the miseducation of their children and the denial of basic human services. The people continue to enjoy the self-created diversions of dancehall, football, track and field, and the national past-time of numerous sexual contacts. However, the people rise daily with expectations and they are continuously optimistic. The hills are alive with greenery, hardships there are, but our people continue to shine like polished gold.
The weaknesses in the society are to be found primarily in the corruption and dishonesty, ineptness, and misrepresentation of those who would claim leadership. The Minister of National Security has still not reported on the alleged missing file regarding the most damning allegations made in the Miami Herald news-story credited to former high-ranking police officer Les Green, but this is not the only disappearance. The police have made the illicit drug-laden boat disappear from the west coast. Those apprehended were declared innocent and the owner never identified. The 'X5 case' reeks of police ineptness, the NSWMA wallows in the trough of political interference and remarkably and most disappointingly the PSOJ has not distinguished itself.
Andrew Holness refuses to report to the country on the granting of the Caricel licence. The election promises made regarding "sleeping with your door open" has led to more murders; and violence stalks the land. It is among our worst periods when 10 persons can be the victims of homicide within a five hour stretch. Domestic violence and carnage on the roads has produced a society that is cringing in fear. How can the country be asked to trust a police force as corrupt as the one we have, as inept at solving crime and displays such a naivety regarding lottery scamming? This has been the worst of Jamaica and it was on full display in the year 2016.
Opportunities are still evident among us. The economic shoots are evidenced by tourism, BPO, agriculture, construction and the flickering signs of currency stabilisation. The benefits we enjoyed by the near escape this hurricane season have offered the chance to plan properly and not for politicians to engage in thievery. The fact that we could have six cruise ships in port on the same day because of prudent planning is reason for optimism.
The fact that we have been given time to clear drains, clean the gullies, strengthen the electricity distribution system, and to review and improve our disaster-preparedness systems are valuable for us and give rise to opportunity and hope. The developments in the bauxite industry and the potential to be had in exploring opportunities in the Chinese tourists market give rise to optimism.
If we can focus a scientific approach to minimising violence through training and importing mediation skills then we can impact the 37 per cent of the murders that are domestic in its genesis. The same people who dance, laugh, keenly contest dominoes, and enjoy the beach are not inherently violent. One rarely hears of domino partners killing each other, but we are assertive at the domino table. Opportunities abound. Oh, for the support of the education system!
Threats lurk and they are being germinated more in the political culture of tribalism. Some $600 million being spent by the Government for its supporters at the expense of the national treasury does not make for harmonious relationships. The clashes, physical and verbal, are on the increase and usually the antagonists are dressed in green and orange. The structural changes made in the partnership for 'I know not what' are unnecessary and only serve to set the stage for citizens who feel aggrieved to take to the streets and when leadership in prominent organisations resort to scolding, they should be put in their place. Currently, enlightened dogmas reject scolding in favour of dialogue and persuasion, but then again, not all leadership is created equal.
The threats to natural environment are visible for all to see. There is severe beach erosion, heavier-than-normal rainfall and resultant water damage and the alarming rise in improperly disposed of garbage are all visible. The nation must rise and seek to mitigate these threats.
This SWOT analysis should not result in despair. Our resolve for next year should be for each of us to do more, to be better, and to create a more responsive society. There are lurking challenges ahead. The international price of oil and energy and the increase in American interest rates could impact us quite significantly and the probability of another general election could always be upper-most where there is a one-seat margin in Parliament.
Added to these are the fast-tracking of public-sector transformation, reduction of borrowed resources, and the additional cost of the tax reform promise. What we don't need is the continuation of the ineptness of the 'Gangs of Gordon House'.