Jamaica badly governed since independence - Chris Bovell
As calls for the divestment of the still burning Riverton disposal site grew louder, prominent member of the legal fraternity, Christopher Bovell, says that and other inactions by the Government tell the story of a badly governed Jamaica.
Speaking last Wednesday at a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, Bovell explored the public-private partnership (PPP) concept, telling guests that PPP "can do more for Jamaica than almost anything we can imagine".
On the topical Riverton disposal site divestment proposition, Bovell called the Government's inability to carry out its privatisation a "disgrace", saying that the site should have been privatised years ago.
"(The) bottom line is that we have been very badly governed since Independence, generally speaking. PPP is an area where a lot more could have been done, and should have been done," suggested Bovell.
The former Jamaican senator continued by giving examples from a 1991 ministry paper titled Privatisation Policy and Procedures which outlined many government-owned entities that were to be privatised.
Calling the list "a history of not achieving what we could have achieved", Bovell revealed that only a handful of the entities listed has been divested to date.
Bovell, who defined PPP as "transferring from the public to the private", went on to explain that the best way to achieve economic growth is through public-private partnerships.
He said: "Jamaica needs growth. It's probably one of the most important things we need in the country right now, and I think that the best way to do this is through PPP."
Speaking of the benefits of public-private partnerships, Bovell listed the reduction of the size of the civil service, increased efficiency, and reduced costs as three Jamaica would enjoy if PPP were to be taken more seriously.
"One of the biggest problems that the Government has right now is the size and cost of the civil service," Bovell pointed out. He explained that, "by implementing PPP, you transfer people who are working for the Government into the private sector".
Because the private sector is profit-driven, Bovell said they are inherently more efficient than the Government. Therefore, as a result of moving entities from the control of the Government into the hands of private bodies, overall efficiency would be improved.
Bovell highlighted cost as another advantage to be gained by implementing more public-private partnerships.
He explained: "Things can be done more cheaply by the private sector. We know how inefficient and costly the Government is. The private sector, which is driven by profit, cannot afford that. In the case of a government, they have the taxpayers, they raise the taxes every 31st of March and they get more money."
Last month, Minister of Finance Dr Peter Phillips said the Government would pursue PPPs in the areas of road infrastructure, health, the provision of information and communication technologies, and agriculture.