Lloyd Hunter, Guest Writer Over the past 20 years general economic, social, and political conditions in Jamaica have improved while individual living conditions for the majority of Jamaicans have worsened.
Lloyd Hunter, Guest Writer
Over the past 20 years general economic, social, and political conditions in Jamaica have improved while individual living conditions for the majority of Jamaicans have worsened.
This is the predominant view of a group of 36 opinion leaders who were contacted by telephone June 15-July 4 this year by this writer. The responses were 44.2 per cent with respect to general conditions improving, and 47.5 per cent regarding individual living conditions getting worse.
Some, who were uncomfortable reflecting on the economic, social, and political conditions in one grouping, said that while there are signs of economic improvement, social conditions have deteriorated markedly.
Civility and public behaviour are at a low ebb, said one within this group. Still others were uncertain whether our political circumstances have really improved or have just remained the same.
IS THIS A POLL?
Before continuing, let me hasten to say that this is not a poll of the type that has recently been the subject of a somewhat heated public debate. I am not here projecting defensible margins of error; statistical reliability and validity; or even more controversially, which methodology is right and which is wrong. And, generalisations to the Jamaican population are not intended.
What I am about in these opinion leader samplings that I do from time to time, is gather feedback from people whose opinions reflect a bit to a lot more awareness than others, and then share the results with the wider public.
There are three basic reasons why this information may be biased. First, I have made no attempt to do any scientific sampling - random or otherwise - in selecting the participants for this survey. Second, all of the participants are known personally to the writer.
In addition, several things were going on at the time this survey was done that could have influenced participant responses to the items. Among these were: The Manatt-Coke commission hearings; the Budget Debate; the Air Jamaica-Caribbean Air merger talks; Wikileaks and Jamaica; and the Buju Banton trial in Miami.
However, I do not believe that these factors weaken in any way the usefulness of the feedback retrieved.
One criterion that the opinion leaders in these surveys always share is that they permit my intrusion into their usual routines for five minutes or so to answer my questions, for which I am always grateful.
This group of 36 ranged in age from 28-82, with a median age of 64.5 years. About 28 per cent were female and 72 per cent, male.
There were nine persons in the 25-44 age group; eight in the 45-64 group; 13 in the 65-74 age category; and six were 75+.
The group included people who are senior corporate executives, young business owners, journalists and media professionals, prominent attorneys, financial analysts, university educators, active and retired public officials, a tourism executive, and a prominent religious leader.
An opinion leader is a person who is held in high esteem within his or her immediate environment, whose opinions are sought within that environment or outside of it, is quotable and often quoted.
MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
These were the most significant set of circumstances or events in Jamaica in the past years according to opinion leaders.
On the positive side, the Jamaica debt exchange (JDX) was the most frequently mentioned (9.8 per cent). This was followed by: reduction of crime - 8.8 per cent lowering interest rates - 4.9 per cent; infrastructure improvements - 3.9 per cent; and the IMF - 2.9 per cent.
The negative side was led far and away by the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition affair and the accompanying events: the incursion into Tivoli Gardens and the Manatt enquiry at (29.4 per cent).
Disappointment with Prime Minister Golding followed with (6.9 per cent); then came poor sectoral performance (5.9 per cent); economic downturn (2.0 per cent); and corruption (two per cent).
Recommendations opinion leaders would make to Government were:
1. Fix the economy - 23.6%
2. Focus on education - 13.6%
3. Continue fight against crime - 11.8%
4. Improve leadership; require more honesty and integrity; repair the prime minister's image and credibility - 10.9%
5. Boost employment - 7.3%
6. Boost confidence - 4.5%
7. Stimulate small and medium business growth - 3.6%
8. Improve infrastructure - 2.7%
9. Improve use and management of resources - 1.8%
10. Encourage banks to improve credit and other services to clients - 1.8%.
An underlying concern of many of the survey participants was the quality and method of renewal of Jamaica's leadership. One participant offered the view that there should be a succession plan for every key position based on the skills required to do the job as determined by sound management principles, not based on political preferences or necessities.
The problem with some of our leaders is that they are really followers. Like so many in our population, they lack commitment to a vision. They appear to act and live more for instant gratification rather than for deferred success, suggested another.
Still another participant observed: "Technology is playing a very important role in making secrets public. We are learning that some of our revered leaders are not the people we thought they were."
Lloyd Hunter is a management communications consultant specialising in opinion sampling, organisational development, and financial firstname.lastname@example.org@gleanerjm.com