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Success is a must this time

Published:Friday | February 15, 2013 | 12:00 AM


I applaud the Government (Ministry of Finance and Planning) for the unprecedented steps it announced (establishment of a Coordinating and Implementing Unit and an Economic Programme Committee) to ensure that the International Monetary Fund agreement is implemented efficiently. An extraordinary opportunity exists for Jamaica to finally get the economy on a growth path. We must succeed this time.

But the Government has to discontinue investing willy-nilly in entrepreneurial projects of doubtful viability, such as the Montego Bay Convention Centre. This flawed practice, in addition to overruns and corruption, has, in no small way, contributed to the massive national debt burden we now carry.

pitfalls of gov't spending

The Gleaner editorial of February 12, 2013 titled 'Lesson from a convention centre' demonstrates the pitfalls of government expenditure without due diligence by citing examples such as the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and the Downtown Kingston Transport Centre. We could add to those projects the hotel in Whitehouse, Westmoreland that was sold later to a major tourist interest. The odds are good that the convention centre could go a similar way.

To stop the rut, the country must purge itself of the business-as-usual mentality. Sacrifice and patriotic service (voluntarism for the good of country) are critical.

Also, the new entities need to: be unencumbered by political strings; have legal capacity to require compliance (under pain of stiff penalties) by ministries, departments and agencies (including the private sector); and have in them the technical competence to evaluate project implementation and strategies on behalf of Government, so as to enable better outcomes and cooperation than we are used to getting.

Let us work with skill and conviction to keep the expenses and pain low and bring joy in the morning!