Performance? Or fairy tale?

Published: Tuesday | January 8, 2013 Comments 0

By Gordon Robinson

Recently, a plethora of public self-congratulatory twaddle regarding Government's first year in office has surfaced.

Nobody bothers to create baselines from which accomplishments can be measured. We'll start with the People's National Party (PNP) election manifesto. The electioneering PNP promised:

"Our first task will ... be the shaping of a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund ... ."

After a year of talking, the score: Promises 1; Accomplishments 0

"The initiatives ... we propose to undertake include ... a realistic, meaningful and sustainable job-creation programme using existing resources; restoration of the health sector to a path of sustainable quality; a new focus on early-childhood education; measures to maintain further crime reduction; provision of more efficient services at the local community levels; and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to create jobs ... ."

One at a time. Remember, we were promised "initiatives", not inactivity bordering on the soporific.

A realistic, meaningful and sustainable job-creation programme using existing resources.

Instead, "existing resources" were hurriedly reshuffled to fund JEEP, which failed to "create" any "meaningful and sustainable" jobs. STATIN's website declares January 2012's total labour force was 1,260,600 (down 9,300 from January 2011). By July, it was 1,256,000. The labour force's 14-19 age group (a.k.a. gunman recruiting agency) declined from 34,900 to 28,300. This, despite STATIN's weird definition of "labour force", which includes "all persons ... in any form of economic activity for one hour or more during the survey week; ... all persons who had no job and were looking for work, and all persons who were not looking for work but wanted work and were in a position to accept work during the survey week."

Alrighty, then. Notwithstanding STATIN's flawed definition, plus JEEP's temporary rotation of 'bullo work' depressing unemployment stats, we're no better off.

Promises 2; Accomplishments 0

The restoration of the health sector to a path of sustainable quality.

Our health services are what the late Ezroy Millwood might call "a chronic". In 2007, a health-sector task force appointed by the minister produced a 217-page report on modernising Jamaica's health care and implementing best practices. That report hasn't yet been tabled in Parliament.

Today's health sector is riddled with customer dissatisfaction, equipment breakdowns, shortages of drugs and other supplies, and inadequate personnel. That's the "path of sustainable quality"?

Promises 3; Accomplishments 0

A new focus on early-childhood education.

We have more than 2,500 early-childhood institutions in Jamaica. Unless you can afford to send your child to one of the upscale, expensive, privately operated preschools, dawg nyam yu suppa! In May 2012, Dr Ralph Thompson was still referring to early-childhood education in Jamaica as "so neglected that the rest of the [school system] is now compromised and in danger of collapse."

On December 31, 2012, it was reported that, after over one year in office, Government was now "moving" to streamline ONE AREA of the system. What exactly had the Government DONE? Nothing. But, no problem, mon, this streamlining "will be done where there are places and trained teachers available". When? Who knows?

Reverend Ronnie announced 25 institutions have been "identified for merger" and the Jamaica Teachers' Association had consented to a review of the Education Code which he says will begin in January. So far, regarding early-childhood education promises, still only talk.

Promises 4; Accomplishments 0

Measures to maintain further crime reduction.

At the end of September, National Security Minister Peter Bunting identified "crime, violence and corruption" as "the main obstacles to rapid growth and development in Jamaica".

What "measures" have been implemented? Toothless legislation? More curfews/patrols disguised as "community policing"? Legislation isn't a "measure"; it creates the crime. Now Government must capture and convict the criminals they've created. What's the police's conviction rate? We have too many illegal guns; too much gang-related violence; too many vicious crimes against women and children. In that context, crime rates are only numbers. Are the police better equipped to deter/solve crime? Official extortion rackets disguised as traffic-ticket amnesties don't count!

Promises 5; Accomplishments 0

The provision of more efficient services at the local community levels.

Like what? NSWMA's garbage-collection disaster? Daily water lock-offs? JPS imported fuel-based light bills skyrocketing? Puh-leeeeze!

Promises 6; Accomplishments 0

The use of ICT to create jobs.

But no jobs have been created (see above).

Final score: Promises 7; Accomplishments 0

Readers should themselves decide the final exam grade their Government deserves. In the good old days, fairy tales used to begin "Once upon a time ... ." Now they begin, "If I am elected ... ."

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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