Frankly, I have a feeling that many public agencies in Jamaica are just marking time. We are not short of laws, or rules, or regulations. But, we are short of people who feel that they must be pushing forward to get things done all the time, to the best of their abilities. In other words, excellence is not the watch word. Something bordering on mediocrity is, though. I’m sorry if that hurts the feelings of any public servant, but until you show the country that your output is the result of maximum and unstinting effort, I am not going to take a different view.
Someone asked today, after Pres. Obama’s visit, what next? I was driving along another potholed road. I thought: have all the potholes filled, then move on to another project that has been languishing as an obvious need. Keep fixing each one till there’s nothing left to fix. Then start again.
My sense of being surrounding by non- or -underperformers hit a wall at the weekend and I penned a letter to the papers. It got the matter off my chest. In trying to hear whether I was wrong in my views, I posed the points to the Consumer Affairs Commission. They asked me for sectors I had in mind, and I pointed them to those I mentioned in my letter. I have not yet heard again from them. The Gleaner published the letter today, with another catchy byline. I’ve reproduced it below, and it’s linked in the byline. Happy reading:
*****

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Jamaica suffers from many things, one of which is a seeming inability to do things for which we have rules and legislative powers to act. I wrote on my blog over the weekend that our comparative advantage is in scamming. It’s a harsh truth, but by owning it, we may set ourselves free.

However, our constant national striving to find ways to wheedle money out of people is aided and abetted by laxity.

I’ve just noted, over past weeks, the almost daily reports in the media of abuses of the consumer. The latest, on Monday, is about gas stations adding hidden charges to the cost of petrol.

Last week, we learned that some 49 cable companies in Jamaica (I never knew we had so many) had been airing content illegally, and now would have to remove it. In the process, consumers have been unwitting accessories to theft. We have to ask what the Broadcasting Commission was doing over the years. But, now what are the rights of ordinary cable subscribers?

We have a possible mammoth fraud involving $160 million from the sale of used cars.

We had, a few weeks ago, the debacle of ticket holders unable to enter the National Stadium on the final day of Champs. After much public uproar, ISSA spoke quickly about considering refunds, but weeks after, we’ve heard not another word on that.

If we go back over the past year alone, we will find many more such stories of small and large enterprises taking a chunk out of the money that is already very tight for most Jamaicans. It’s unconscionable. But, where are our advocates?

We have a Consumer Affairs Commission, which, as far as I can tell, has said not one word about any of these abuses, either with an ‘immediate reaction’ or ‘after some reflection’. Why?

DENNIS JONES

Economist

dennisgjones@gmail.com

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