Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Fix the State! - IDB says inefficiencies, red tape a drag on economy

Published:Thursday | April 6, 2017 | 4:00 AMRomario Scott
Therese Turner-Jones, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) general manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group (CCB).

Even as the Government continues to undertake far-reaching public-sector reform measures aimed at reducing public debt and making the public sector more efficient, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is warning that deep flaws within the system of government, if not addressed quickly, will continue to undermine the efforts.

For Therese Turner-Jones, IDB Caribbean regional head, the absence of a national identification system is one of the deepest flaws of the Jamaican state, significantly contributing to the disorder and inefficiencies in the operation of Government.

She believes that if the Government pushes ahead with the national identification system, as was announced recently, the operations of the state could be significantly enhanced.

"With a national identification system in place, everyone would have a single identity. So, it's not a case of , I am John today, and I am John Doe tomorrow, and I am John Thompson on the third day, depending on how I would want to use my aliases. Those would be cut out and the Government and state agencies would know exactly who they are dealing with," she stated.

... Gov't needs to operate more efficiently

According to Therese Turner-Jones, Inter-American Development Bank General Manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group, there are practices within the Government that are making it more difficult to transact business, while at the same time frustrating beneficiaries of various programmes. She suggested that the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education be looked at for improvement in operations. Turner-Jones said that the Government could use modern technology to deliver the benefits, which would ultimately be more cost effective.

"It would be more modern to have a debit card that has the benefits, and they could be downloaded every month at the click of a button. Not only would it be more modern, but giving people these cards would make them more 'financially-included'," Turner-Jones argued.

"When people have money in their hands from changing cheques, they tend to spend it right away, but if the value is on a card, they tend to think twice about using it. Maybe they have to go and make that extra effort to spend it."

Turner-Jones stated that ideally, the Government should be looking to eliminate cheque and cash transactions.

 

DECREASED PRODUCTIVITY

 

Another point that Turner-Jones raised with The Gleaner was the inefficiencies in the public sector, which leads to decreased productivity.

"When you apply for a driver's licence or a tax registration number, you want that to be as efficient as possible because it is a very frustrating experience when you go to one place and they send you to somewhere else to get a stamp, and then you have to go somewhere else to get a triple copy. That's very annoying. This is what the private sector says: 'doing business in Jamaica is cumbersome'," she stated.

"If the Government can tackle those head on, the benefits will be there to see."

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com