Despite our good, free, though unsolicited advice, Mrs Portia Simpson Miller will have her grand swearing-in ceremony at King's House today.
Her advisers expect that up to 10,000 persons will attend the function. We assume that most of these people have jobs, some of them corporate or public-sector bigwigs.
If each of the invitees devotes, say, two hours, to celebrating with Mrs Simpson Miller, they, combined, will expend 20,000 man-hours, or more than 833 man-days, or nearly 2.3 man-years. Since the function will be in the afternoon, when many in corporate offices would be winding down for the day, we are willing to credit back to the guests, as personal time, half the period they will spend at King's House.
So, in this scenario, the estimated productive time lost will be 10,000 man-hours. Assuming that employees work an average of eight hours per day, the guests, cumulatively, will spend 1,250 working days at King's House, or the equivalent to keeping an office closed for nearly three and a half years during working hours.
These calculations, of course, do not include the hundreds of man-hours that will have been spent by many public officials in the planning of the event and those to be expended by the scores of members of the security forces assigned to the event.
A more private affair
Our preference, therefore, would have been for a small oath-taking ceremony inside the governor general's office at King's House, with Mrs Simpson Miller accompanied by her very closest family members and a handful of advisers/ministers. The multitudes would have stayed in their offices, getting on, hopefully, with productive output. There would be the symbolism of the new administration getting right down to work, confronting Jamaica's economic and social crisis. An added benefit would be that taxpayers would have saved a few million dollars.
Since Mrs Simpson Miller and her advisers won't cancel the affair, the prime minister-designate must do her utmost to make it worth Jamaica's while. In that regard, she need not subject us to a long speech and the tedium associated thereto. She has already made two good speeches, the better one on the night she closed the People's National Party's election campaign; the other when she accepted victory.
Simple and candid
In any event, soaring rhetoric, as Mrs Simpson Miller herself has acknowledged, is not her style. She should, therefore, speak with simplicity and frankness about Jamaica's condition and give a bullet-point outline of what her administration will do about the problems, not what it hopes to do.
She must concomitantly announce timelines for each undertaking and the processes by which the people will be reported to and the mechanisms by which the Government will hold itself accountable.
Mrs Simpson Miller must be clear in her mind about two things:
She and her Government now own policy; we don't expect them to whinge about how the former administration messed up over the past four years.
They must not be afraid to try things. But when it is obvious that policies are wrong, cut them quickly and admit to the error.
In other words, Mrs Simpson Miller should today outline the priorities of her Government, how it intends to achieve them, while establishing the character of her administration. She should do that in 15 minutes.