Yesterday, I listened to one of my favourite Jamaican commentators, Franklin McKnight (Irie FM), who has a daily slot each morning, Monday-Wednesday. He took Jamaican public sector and government agencies to task about their slow processes and humbug in the form of ‘red tape’. He cited the case of Richard Byles, chairman of many corporations, including Red Stripe: that latter company is trying to get a lease on government land so that it can develop cassava to replace barley in its beer-making. Mr. Byles was frustrated because he was hoping to give a boost to job-making and also help the balance of payments with lower imports and higher exports. So far, six weeks had passed since a visit to the desired plot of land and apparent oral agreement that a lease would be given, yet, the requisite piece of paper was still “on its way”.
I sympathise with Mr. Byles, but I think he has gone for the low-hanging fruit: government is an easy target for blame when it comes to getting things not done in Jamaica. My experience, having come back to Jamaica this past June, is that the “soon come” syndrome pervades almost all segments of business activity, so that means the private sector is as guilty of slowing down economic activity. I am going to cite some personal examples.
Electrician came to house to survey what needs to be done to replace lights and check wiring some three weeks ago. He did not have all the lights needed, and said he would get them and come back. No word or sight of him after. A call to ask him what was happening. He called a few days ago to say he was coming that afternoon. Still no sight. Reasons? I presume business is very good and therefore other jobs are taking his time. Could be he cannot get the lights. Do I need to know? Should I wait at home every day?
Builders came to survey roof and ceiling damage and repair area affected by heavy rains. They returned in a few days to complete repairs.They returned a few weeks later to repaint the damaged area, however, paint needed was not available. They went to get it and promised to return. It’s now been about six weeks since that last visit. Reasons? I presume business is very good and therefore other jobs are taking his time. Do I need to know, etc?
I opened a foreign currency bank account at a New Kingston branch of a major bank. I am told by that bank that it would be better to open another foreign currency bank account to handle a different currency. I happened to be at the university, so went to open the account there. I want to make transactions from the accounts, but find that the ‘freedom’ to do that is limited because the accounts are hosted at particular branches. I find that strange because I expect my money to be in the banking system and that any bank that holds my account can handle that account equally from any branch. But, it seems to not be so? Reason? I have no way to understand what is the problem. As a result, my funds are stuck without my being able to physically go to a particular branch. What are the benefits of electronic banking? They seem elusive.
Children swim for clubs at the National Aquatic Centre; they must pay a small fee for using the ppol and facilities. I understand that a problem arose with non-payment of fees during morning training sessions. Result was that the pool was closed for morning training. Why was it thought that the solution to the problem of non-payment by some was closure and denial of access to all? I don’t know the answer, but it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach that seems excessive.
I’ve commented before about JUTC’s approach to its problems of timeliness on certain routes–having bus lanes dedicated to its buses only. JUTC is a public sector organisation and trying to use its power to bully other road users. They benefit but only by the suffering of other road users. Not a good solution.
I’ve participated in several major events, organized by private groups or individuals. None of them began within one hour of the stated time. Everyone who’d been to these events before took it for granted it would be thay way. Change?
That all tells me that there’s a certain approach people have to doing things. The government may make it happen in a particular way. But so does the private sector. It’s engrained. From where does it come? Answers, please.