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Jamaica at 50: Business leaders speak

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

As we continue to get responses from Jamaica's business leaders about Jamaica's achievements or the lack thereof for the 50 years of its Independence, here are the views of three more leaders.

COURTNEY CAMPBELL, chief executive officer, Grace-Kennedy Financial Group, believes that Jamaica has done well in all spheres of national development including sports, culture, tourism, business and academia and has many reasons to be proud.

But, he said Jamaica has missed opportunities for economic development and, although we have done a good job, it could have been better.

"I believe that if people across the society take a different approach to problem-solving and create a peaceful and respectful approach to human life, all our problems will be solved," Campbell said.

"We have so many examples of success. If we can put together all of these positives and get the integrity and respect right, it will flow into greater discipline in the economy. We need to work ourselves out of the indebtedness and start with unity the sacrifices to make things better," Campbell said.

WAYNE CHEN, president, Jamaica Employers' Federation

Wayne Chen, president of the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) and newly elected president of the Caribbean Employers' Confederation (CEC), believes that if values and attitudes are taught and instilled in the society, it will improve the the country's present belligerent state.

Jamaica, he said, had seen economic growth in the period prior to its Independence. Chen described this era as one of the most successful periods, as Jamaica was setting the foundation by diversifying its economy. There were many migrants to the United Kingdom prior to Independence, however, with independence the migration started inward instead of outward.

"Persons started to drift towards urban centres and this helped to contribute to the inner-city squalor and nothing was done then to tackle these problems," Chen said.

He said as a result of the economic situation and the lack of opportunities, other areas including education and the values and attitudes of the society have drifted.

"An educated people cannot remain poor and underdeveloped. We need to educate the people so that they can be literate and adopt values and attitudes of a modern society. People can then develop tolerance, take personal responsibility, love of learning, good parenting skills, and fulfil their potential," Chen said.

He said every child should be guaranteed an equal educational opportunity. "Not everyone will end up with a PhD, but they should have fundamental values and attitudes. As a country we should ascertain what are the values that will lift the society and then what are the ones that are holding down the society. Then we begin to work hand in hand," Chen said.

Audrey Hinchcliffe, head of Manpower & Maintenance Services, is of the view that when Jamaica became independent 50 years ago, "we had great hope for this nation. We honestly believed that, together, we could build stronger communities and a better country. Looking back, I wish that Jamaica had cared more about family values and that, crime did not have the impact that it has had on our families, communities, our businesses and, by extension, the economy.

For the future, I would really like to see us develop a more solid foundation on which to build our country and its economy. I do not want Jamaica to continue borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. For the next 50 years, let us focus more on producing superior goods and services with a strong export capability. My wish is that, as a nation, we will all work together to achieve the overall goals of the 20/30 Strategic Plan, which I wholeheartedly support.