Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Superminister needed!

Published:Monday | January 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Aubyn Hill

International banker and financial analyst Aubyn Hill is urging Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to identify a member of her Cabinet to take on the job of driving economic growth.

With storm clouds over the Jamaican economy this year, Hill is adamant that not enough has been done to achieved the much-needed growth.

"We do not have a designated economic growth driver in the Cabinet," stated Hill in a Gleaner exclusive.

"The prime minister should combine the ministries of energy and mining, commerce and parts of finance into a strong and effective Ministry of Knowledge and Economy which would work closely with the other ministries to drive growth.

"The designated minister would have to have the complete trust and support of the prime minister in order to be effective," declared Hill.

He argued that successive administrations have exported jobs from Jamaica by buying products and services which could, and should, be produced locally.

"The printing of school books is one such item. The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) required printers to have done contracts for a minimum of $250 million, but the only party that could offer such a contract is the GOJ - and it shipped these contracts to overseas printers, and the Jamaican jobs with the contracts."

According to Hill, Simpson Miller needs to instruct - and monitor - her ministers to identify products and services which can be produced in Jamaica, and find efficient ways to produce or source them in Jamaica.


"Too often, ministers and their permanent secretaries take the easiest way out - order from overseas - instead of putting their minds to source in Jamaica and create local jobs," charged Hill.

"In the case of the school books, the contracts could be handled in a fashion similar to the way the Bank of Jamaica auctions securities to the financial markets, with the objective of securing the lowest interest rate.

"The Ministry of Education could invite the four or five top printers which have fair capacity to do the job to submit bids, with the clear understanding that the highest bid will be removed and they all would have to accept the average of the bid prices and share the job among themselves.

"This way, the Government and taxpayers would get the best deal and jobs would be created in Jamaica."

Hill also suggested that the Government should make education a business - funded by private investors - to make Jamaica the "education capital of the Caribbean in the same way Trinidad and Tobago has carved out its niche as the manufacturing capital of the Caribbean".

Hill added: "Education is not working now as the minister wants it to, and the GOJ is short of cash to execute."

He urged the Simpson Miller-led administration to use regulation and legislation to change the rules to make it easy for investors to invest in schools at all levels.

"The best and fastest-growing economies, with perennially sustained growth, are those that are built as knowledge economies. South Korea, Singapore, Denmark and the Spanish state of Catalonia are good examples," said Hill.