Shuffle Cabinet: Zacca calls on PM to refresh executive
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Christopher Zacca, president of the Private Sector Association of Jamaica, has stressed that time is running out for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to reshape and refresh her Cabinet.
Addressing the 12th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Meadowvale at the Altamont Court Hotel in St Andrew, Zacca urged Simpson Miller, who has consistently steered clear of disturbing her Cabinet, to change course.
"I would like to recommend to the prime minister that at this juncture, it is time that she reshape and refresh the structure and composition of her Cabinet," said Zacca.
He suggested that necessary changes were urgently required to create the best possible structure and team available to guide Jamaica into international competitiveness, growth, and development.
"We in civil society need to believe that we have the best Cabinet possible in place," said Zacca. "We need to feel the results that drive international competitiveness and the consequent ease of doing business being delivered by that body."
Zacca characterised Jamaica as a country that has historically been badly run and at the brink of bankruptcy.
He noted that over the past year, Jamaica crawled from the brink by accomplishing fiscal consolidation and re-establishing credibility with local and international lenders.
Zacca said Jamaica has also been able to borrow US$800 million instead of the US$500 million that the country initially needed. However, he issued a caution that it is premature to cheer any perceived accomplishments.
He cited an urgent need to use the latest loan to improve the productive enterprises such as hotels, factories, farms, call centers and businesses.
Zacca said this was necessary to render these entities more internationally competitive and to make doing business in Jamaica far easier and more cost-effective.
"If not, then it will all be for naught," he warned.
Zacca stressed that the real success of the economic-reform programme can only be trumpeted when there is robust and sustainable economic growth, which leads to job creation, poverty reduction, and social empowerment and development.
"Without dramatic improvement in competitiveness, we will never achieve the levels of productivity that will allow us to earn the vital foreign exchange we need to grow, through exports of goods and services, and through import substitution," he said.
Zacca proffered that international competitiveness means that the time, effort and money that investors put into starting and running a business in Jamaica should cost less than that of competitors in other countries.
"Achieving competitiveness has many dimensions, and although they are also important to large businesses, they affect small businesses to a greater extent," he said.
Zacca said some of the most important things that are needed in Jamaica to greatly improve competitiveness include:
1. Reduced bureaucracy and a government administration that nurtures and facilitates businesses.
2. Significant reduction of crime and corruption, and improved efficiency in the delivery of justice.
3. Reduced energy costs.
4. A tax system that encourages investment and is fair and widely compliant.
5. A stable and healthy macroeconomic environment.
Zacca said the implementation of the necessary conditions for competitiveness is first and foremost the job of the Government, starting with the Cabinet of Jamaica and supported by the Parliament.