Chairman of GraceKennedy, Douglas Orane, last week used the platform of the Caribbean International Network (CIN) annual lecture in New York to outline his proposals for transforming Jamaica.
Orane joined a distinguished gallery of achievers and national leaders invited to take part in the lecture series, hosted by the only regularly scheduled television service for the Caribbean community in the New York area.
He delivered the eighth Annual CIN Lecture at the Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and argued that creating prosperity in Jamaica is "very doable" and has been demonstrated in recent times, by many enterprising individuals and companies - despite a half century of declining productivity and a trio of serious "binding constraints" affecting the country.
The Gleaner presents excerpts from that presentation which Douglas Orane used the lecture to call for "a more effective use of Jamaica's national vision and plan while creating a culture of transformation for breaking the paradigm of limited thinking, increased productivity and an active civil society".
In his blueprint for "breakthrough change", Orane said also critical would be addressing what he identified as three major "binding constraints", which encompass the main issues concerning the island's citizens.
These constraints, he said, were:
Before detailing his plan for recovery, the former two-time Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) president presented some statistics of economic decline, as well as a number of world-class achievements by the Jamaican people.
In presenting the statistics of economic decline, Orane noted that "the Jamaican economy suffers from a chronic problem of nearly half a century of low productivity per person".
According to Orane, "We hold the world record for declining productivity over the last 40 years, whereas virtually every other country has increased productivity during the same period.
"In 1970, Jamaica's GDP (gross domestic product) per capita in constant dollars was US$3,849 per person.
"In 2011, it was US$3,436, a decline of just over 10 per cent over a 41-year period."
Orane also listed a number of positives achieved by the nation.
Among these were the pioneering of all-inclusive tourism; development of a vibrant manufacturing sector and the creation of a world-class information, technology and communication sector.
SUCCESS IN MUSIC, SPORTS
Other achievements listed by Orane included "an incredibly successful music industry and a world-class sports industry".
Jamaica's national development plan was another significant plus highlighted by Orane, as well as the fact that it had been developed "out of a process that was non-partisan and inclusive".
However, he argued that the national development plan needs to be more effectively used.
According to Orane, removing the binding constraints he had identified would require "the indomitable will to do what needs to be done" and the wholehearted embracing of a culture of transformation by all.
He said this would need a more active civil society taking action to ensure a completely transparent policy-framing process - starting with how tax dollars are spent.
Orane recommended beginning the annual national budget debate process much earlier to ensure maximum participation.
Ensuring a price for policy misbehaviour, strengthening the civil service in terms of quality and efficiency of its employees, and encouragement of "good people" to enter representational politics were among the other recommendations.
"The effective engagement of young males, the dramatic restructuring of the education budget to place major resources with the critical early education sector, and the revitalising of the flagging apprenticeship system would be other key moves," argued Orane.
To address crime, he stressed the need to "break the link between politics and organised crime".
Critical initiatives, he advocated, were stopping the flow of money to corrupt entities through the award of state contracts, increasing support for the Office of the Contractor General and ensuring that sources of financial support for political parties were made clear and transparent.
He also called for the establishment of a system of integrity testing for persons offering themselves for political office.
These recommendations, among a number of others, were among the components of the "Key to Prosperity" that Orane outlined.
He noted that even without such a national transformation many individuals and companies in Jamaica had achieved and continued to achieve prosperity.
Orane used the GraceKennedy Group's experiences over the past few decades to make his point.
According to Orane, despite stiff challenges in the 1990s, GraceKennedy had indeed "created prosperity", not only for its shareholders, but for the entire team.
Annual sales had moved from US$167 million in 1986 to US$677 million in 2011, with equity increasing from US$22 million to US$339 million over the same period.
Orane said the GraceKennedy success formula had included a clear set of values - honesty, integrity and trust.
He said it involved developing a culture of inclusiveness, which is both egalitarian and meritocratic, and intensive human development at every level to create "a culture of intrapreneurship".
A major highlight of the GraceKennedy success story, Orane added, was the setting of an objective in 1995 to double the productivity of every employee within five years - and its achievement.
The GraceKennedy Chairman concluded, "This is an example of how, by clear vision and effective executions, we can as Jamaicans achieve our dreams, no matter how hostile the environment may seem to be. All things are possible if we engage in having a positive view of ourselves and the future."
Noting that being a Jamaican was no longer a matter of geography, but a state of mind, Orane called on Jamaicans in his New York audience to play an important part in transforming their homeland.
While thanking them for the support many continued to send to relatives at home and their championing of Jamaica internationally, he urged them to go further.
Two possibilities he suggested were engaging with educational institutions in Jamaica, or following the lead of a number of distinguished nationals living abroad who had returned home to serve in key nation-building posts.