THE EDITOR, Sir:
An open letter to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
I am writing to you in my capacity as a local manufacturer, notwithstanding the fact that I am the deputy president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association. I wrote a similar letter to your predecessor, Mr Bruce Golding, and to both of his appointed ministers of industry and commerce. I sincerely hope that my suggestion will at least find some favour with you as it seemed to have been completely ignored previously.
Madam Prime Minister, I feel strongly and passionately that the ONLY way for Jamaica to help itself out of its economic woes is to produce, produce, produce. The Government, as the largest purchaser of all goods in the country, needs to lead by example and start to buy Jamaican, wherever and whenever possible. I know that there are some procurement policies that have been put in place and are being worked on. However, they are simply inadequate and have proven so for a long time.
My suggestion is as follows: You appoint hand-picked persons from the society, of high integrity to sit in an oversight capacity at all ministries and government agencies, whose sole responsibility is to ensure that no stone is left unturned, to ensure that every dollar of the Government's money is spent on locally manufactured products, when and where possible.
It is my opinion that if this were to be done, it would start to change the mindset of the ministers, permanent secretaries and purchasing officers, and would ultimately lead to a gradual shift in the way procurement is undertaken in Jamaica.
Prime Minister, I strongly feel that if you were to do this, we would see small companies turning into medium-size companies, and medium-size companies turning into large ones. Employment would begin to rise and the economy would start to grow at unprecedented rates. We need to change our culture on this matter, but it must start at the top. We cannot continue to ask people to buy Jamaican when our Government continues to buy imported products as a general rule.
I know that what I am suggesting seems to be a bit of micromanagement; however, it is necessary until we overturn this anomaly that exists. From the furniture to the toilet paper and everything in-between that appointee should be given every reason possible why we would have to buy from overseas or a non-Jamaican manufactured product before the order was signed.
This initiative will go a far way in helping to build the capacity and to become internationally competitive in a variety of industries over time.
I am available to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the matter in further detail