Mon | Jan 21, 2019

UPDATED: Bureaucracy, inefficiency stifling growth - PM

Published:Wednesday | April 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) engages Karl Blake, councillor for the Greenwich Town division, and Dr Angela Brown Burke, member of parliament for South Western St Andrew, about his plans for development of the constituency, following their participation in the groundbreaking ceremony for Foreshore Estate yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday lamented the level of inefficiency in the public sector and appealed for bipartisan support in tackling its long-overdue reform.

Delivering the keynote address at the official groundbreaking ceremony for Foreshore Estate in Delacree Pen, off Spanish Town Road, the prime minister lamented that the project, which had been in the pipeline before he took office, had taken too long to get off the ground. The necessary approvals from local authorities and other agencies, he charged, were mired in unnecessary bureaucracy.

"There is a challenge with bureaucracy in our country. We have to get it right. We need the rules to ensure integrity, transparency, fairness and that there is no corruption in what we're doing," he declared. "But the rules themselves cannot become an obstacle, where people feel that the only way to get things done is to resort to a corrupt act."


Flip side of corruption


Inefficiency, the prime minister argued, is the flip side of corruption, and wherever there is inefficiency, there will be corruption, a situation that thrives in countries such as Jamaica.

"The purpose of the bureaucrat is not to stop things from happening. The purpose of the bureaucrat is to make sure that things happen speedily in the right way," Holness stated. "But bureaucrats in developing countries have taken on a perspective that their job is to stop things from happening, there is no enterprise, no entrepreneurism in bureaucracy in Jamaica or, indeed, in most countries in the developing world," the PM charged.

"It is as if because you are only getting paid to push paper and not getting paid for results, then results don't matter. So this project is taking - from the time I laid eyes on it and said yes ... two years."

This kind of delay, according to Holness, has long been a turnoff for investors who feel that there is no premium of speed of process in Jamaica and will, therefore, continue to take their money where they are more likely to get other incentives as well.

"Until we as Jamaicans confront this problem, then we will not grow. The Government is engaged in the transformation of the public sector," said Holness.

"We are committed to doing it, because that is the only way that we are going to grow Jamaica," the prime minister admitted.

He appealed to Dr Angela Brown-Burke, member of parliament for St Andrew South West, for bipartisan support in resolving this bothersome issue, once and for all.

"I know that the honourable lady who is a representative of this constituency supports the point ... and will be my ardent supporter in Parliament when this matter is discussed," He added.

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  The original version of this story has been updated to more accurately reflect what was said by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.)