Colin Powell's highlighting of it was, in a sense, to state the obvious. Jamaica's economy has underperformed in our 50 years of Independence, although, as a guest at our celebrations, he was far too polite to state so bluntly. Rather, he suggested "a lot more work has to be done" in building the economy.
Mr Powell, of course, had far greater licence than he used, to be blunt. For although he is a retired general of the United States Army and a former secretary of state of that country, and was here at the behest of President Obama, he is family. His parents were Jamaicans.
In that regard, we hope, in the quiet of the drawing room of either Vale Royal or Jamaica House, he had a frank chat with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, unconstrained by the niceties of diplomacy.
In that conversation, Mr Powell, as a member of the Jamaican diaspora, would, hopefully, have expressed concern about the country's poor economic performance, especially over the last four decades; told Mrs Simpson Miller about the drift of her Government; and warned of the danger of her administration squandering its mandate.
Grave economic woes
The latter point is particularly important and ought to seriously engage the minds of Mrs Simpson Miller, her ministers and the governing People's National Party (PNP).
When the PNP regained the Government seven months ago, after four years in Opposition from nearly two decades in power, its obvious mandate was to fix the Jamaican economy.
Years of anaemic growth and heavy borrowing had left a national debt of more than J$1.7 trillion, or a Greek-style 140 per cent of gross domestic product.
Financial markets were less than lukewarm to Jamaica in the absence of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to replace the one that collapsed under the previous administration. The Fund's imprimatur is also necessary to unlock financial support from other multilateral and bilateral institutions.
The IMF, however, demanded preconditions ahead of full negotiations with Jamaica. It wanted, for instance, creditable movement towards tax reform and reduction of the public-sector wage bill and an overhaul of the pension system for state employees.
Much dithering and waffling
The finance minister, Peter Phillips, has spoken boldly about his commitment to delivering on these reforms. Dr Phillips' first Budget in May, however, was far too timid in starting the process.
In the months since then, we have yet to receive from Dr Phillips any specifics on his plans for a revision of the pension scheme, to improve tax collection, and a restructuring of the public sector, except for an agreement with unions for a medium-term freeze on wages.
But worse has been the absence of leadership from Mrs Simpson Miller on where she intends to take the country, on how she intends to get there. If she has a plan, she has failed to communicate it with any clarity to the Jamaican people.
Indeed, there is a sense that ministers are off on independent programmes, seeking to outdo each other, rather than being part of a coherent whole. So, Omar Davies, who is in charge of the transport and works portfolio, sounds like he is also the man for investment.
Mr Powell says he is assured Prime Minister Simpson Miller will be focusing on economic development. She won't get much done in a disjointed Government.
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