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LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaica needs a great PM

Published:Tuesday | June 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM


The case for a great prime minister is based on the sorry state of the country after almost 50 years of Independence, and now being at the mercy of the International Monetary Fund.

Jamaica was never a rich country, nor was it ever a country where wealth was widely or equitably distributed.

However, with Independence in 1962, there were widespread hopes that Jamaica would achieve substantial development in critical areas such as the economy, social well-being, jobs and skills training. Opportunities such as outsourcing involve trillions of US dollars. Leading international companies shift their workload from high-cost producers to competent low-cost ones, such as China, Singapore, Costa Rica and Panama. Jamaica's share is virtually zero. Demand for outsourcing is growing substantially. Jamaica should have been a part of this development.

Our country must confront the consequences of missing such opportunities:

1. Economic growth over the last 40 years averaged only about one per cent per annum.

2. An inefficient taxation system characterised by a high percentage of tax dodgers and which impacts unfairly on the majority of the population.

3. A police force apparently mired in corruption and, therefore, less effective against the rising crime rate.

4. The existence of political garrisons which guarantee the repeated re-elections of their incumbents at unfathomable costs to the country, debasing the sound principle of 'free will of the people'.

The ability to address these problems definitively lies beyond the scope of any average or partisan prime minister.

Only a great prime minister can muster the support, enthusiasm and confidence to cope with these problems.

He or she must be patriotic, a transformational leader possessed with vision, organisational skills and the intellectual capacity to take us out of this socio-economic quagmire. A leader who is averse to making promises that he/she knows cannot be met; one who is aware and alert as to what is happening not only in Jamaica but in the world - in critical areas such as finance, commerce, industry, trade, social reform - and is ready and capable of taking advantage where possible.

One who realises that a high-quality economy requires high-quality components: an educated and skilled population, managers, investors, institutions. This leader should not be hesitant or afraid to replace functionaries who are not performing at a satisfactory level.

We need honest, competent leadership that puts the interest of the nation above party considerations.