Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Paradigm shift needed for nat’l development

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:07 AM


The advent of the COVID-19 crisis has starkly exposed the severe ‘cracks’ in Jamaica’s development. In the recent past we have also experienced the fallout from the economic crisis (2008-2010) and more recently the demise of the sugar and bauxite industries, and now the debilitating effects on tourism.

These highlights the urgent need for a serious review of ‘Jamaica’s path to National Development’.

We have always compared our development with that of Singapore, but have steadfastly failed to develop a model that optimises our human and natural resources. Perhaps it is prudent to consider a new approach to national development.

The foundation pillars for meaningful development in Jamaica are:

EDUCATION – A comprehensive and integrated system, from kindergarten to secondary level, which is adequately resourced, staffed, and equipped (physically, technically, materially) to provide a sound foundation for tertiary education, geared towards meeting developmental challenges and goals.

HEALTHCARE – COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the need for improvements and review of the system. A robust healthcare system is a necessary component in improving the productivity of workers in the society, and cannot be easily ignored.

FOOD SECURITY – This goes hand in hand with agricultural and agro-industrial development. Jamaica cannot now or in the near future sustain its huge food-importation bill. We repeat ad nauseam the slogan ‘Eat what you grow, grow what you eat’, but fail to achieve any meaningful levels of food security or self-sufficiency.

Post-independence, we have experienced decline in both our production and productivity of our major food crops, as well as our exports and agro-processing activities. We need to develop and maintain a ‘sustainable and viable agricultural/ago-industrial sector’.

We have the land, water (if properly harnessed), technicians to do so, incorporating appropriate technologies, and re-establishing our research and development efforts.

In addition to the aforementioned crises, we are situated in a region prone perils of climate change.

Highlighting these areas for major improvements will not mean that other areas of need and development will be neglected. Governments will have to prioritise funding and other resources, improve public-sector efficiencies and reduce monetary losses from underproductive activities.

National and political consensus is imperative, as these priority areas will need to be maintained for at least eight-10 years, to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

National development requires a paradigm and pragmatic shift that we have accepted and practised since independence. We can and must do better, for the benefit of all Jamaicans.