Election 2002 Home » News
Business leaders look to the future
Grandison (centre), Editor-in-Chief of The Gleaner Company
shakes hands with John Issa (left), Chairman of SuperClubs
at Wednesday's Editors' Forum. In background are: Douglas
Orane (partly hidden), Chairman and CEO of Grace, Kennedy
& Company Ltd.; Wayne Chen (second right), Managing
Director of SuperPlus; and Gordon Arnold, Managing Director
of Globe Insurance.
at Wednesday's Editors' Forum at the Gleaner North Street
Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
CLARKE, PRESIDENT, PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANISATION OF JAMAICA
we want to try and do is to set what the agenda of the private
sector should be immediately after the elections. I would
like to start by asking people what are the private sector
agenda items that ought to be on the table on October 17 whichever
Government is in, what are the issues you feel that need to
be dealt with.
ORANE, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GRACE, KENNEDY
I think there are two aspects to it; one is the economic and
that is that the country has a particularly large debt burden
relative to the size of the economy. Whoever wins has to address
that, that's one, but there is a wider and broader issue and
I put it this way, the Jamaican imagination of what we can
be is finite, in other words, our view of wealth is finite,
we see wealth as fixed and therefore we have to fight each
other over who has to get what and it's not about us getting
wealthy together. Somebody needs to make that paradigm shift
and say we as a country need to move ahead and get wealthy
together, everybody, and that really is what I am looking
for from whoever wins. Now, if we don't do it, then we will
caught into this zero sum game which leads to all sorts of
things like political tribalism, maintaining and establishing
garrisons and all that leads to, so we need to break out of
MELHADO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MANUFACTURERS SIGMA MERCHANT BANK
think maybe a bit micro, but two things particularly, I think
we are kind of being in a false feel good period for a while,
for a long time and I think all the numbers point to the fact
that we are in a very tight bind and that we need to move
a bit from feel good to take some of the tough medicine.
have to stop building roads, and fixing things that we can't
afford to fix. I mean we just can't spend what we don't have
and we have been spending what we don't have for a hell of
a long time. The second thing is focusing on management; somehow
I think we have got away from that, if you had superior management
to what we have in all areas, we could do a lot better.
MOSES, COUNTRY CORPORATE DIRECTOR, CITIBANK N A
debt and growth. What is the private sector to do about that?
don't know that we are going to be able to do much more than
we are doing already in terms of trying to keep those on the
agenda, trying to influence policy.
HALL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, JAMAICA PRODUCERS
vital things, efficiency and growth. In the efficiency area,
not that they are vital, but you know if we have a regulatory
framework which has the OUR, it has FTC, you have a whole
pile of these agencies, that's one indication of the efficiency
in government that one needs to be concerned about; the kind
of thing about fixing roads, making sure that efficiency is
a big thing and for me to have the government recognise that
growth is important at the micro level, and I mean by that
Customs has to have growth as its priority and not collecting
revenues or try to catch contraband, growth is the thing because
without growth we won't get the pie enlarged.
HILL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NCB
want to subscribe to two things, efficiency of government
and the Customs. You bring tourists in this country to come
through Customs and it is the biggest possible turn off I
could see in any of the 50 odd countries that I have visited.
We need to make sure that we get that thing working well and
move that on to efficiency in other places of government.
I don't think that there is probably enough concentration
on the fact that money should be spent efficiently and the
private sector - I met with somebody who was from the private
sector yesterday and went into Government and he said any
of us who should get the chance, should move from the private
sector and help the Government, should take that opportunity
because we need to help them and we need to understand how
they do their business. The other thing that I would like
to comment on apart from that efficiency issue and management
issue is the education issue.
really believe we have to take a longer term look at education
and whichever party wins and stop playing game with it. We
have to really look at making Jamaicans well qualified Jamaicans,
not just farm workers any more, but nurses, doctors, accountants,
and exportable items coming from Jamaica. The crime issue
therefore must also be addressed.
D'CAMBRE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL FUELS
can talk around it all we want, but crime is the major challenge
we face in this society and I don't care who wins, we elect
a government or the existing government and we have a Minister
of Security who is not trained, he is not trained in the field
in which his Ministry operates; and yet look at this table
here, you have people here who could sit down and make specific
recommendations to the Government, instead of protesting that
the crime is too high, to be specific, we have the brain here,
we could do it. I mean if you look on the roads today, you
see a man driving a black tinted car and you expect a policeman
to stop this black tinted car, that's how the criminals get
around, just basic things like that.
DUNCAN, DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR, JAMAICA MONEY MARKET BROKERS
is important is that we have national consensus, a shared
vision, there needs to be a coming together of critical areas
of the economy, the private sector, the public sector, unions
see that through the formation of, I would call it, an Economic
Prosperity Council which is similar to what Douglas is saying,
this thing is not finite, it is there for us, you know we
can create the conditions to achieve greatness and it is just
a matter of bringing all sectors together to think it through
and keep the Government and each of us accountable at all
LYN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISLAND GRILL
the bureaucracy so that we can see more growth. I shouldn't
have a trailer sitting on the wharf for a month, too much
bureaucracy in the whole system and it's at all levels and
we are afraid to speak out, me included, because I have to
go back to the same people to ask for these concessions and
if I speak out too loudly my concessions might be taken away.
MARKS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, PAYMASTER JAMAICA LTD.
is simply repairing and maintaining our infrastructure. Every
time when we have rains, we have floods and massive dislocation.
I know in my business, if we have a problem with a system
not working we have to fix it for the next time. We know what
is causing the problem, we know that we need to clean the
drains, clean the gullies but it is just not done. In fact,
I would like to see more basic repair and maintenance as a
primary item. I would like to take back security as the responsibility
of the state. There is a simple thing like just having the
street boys away from the stop-lights. I think that is where
a lot of criminal activity is going on and it has started
to really traumatise many people.
would like to see us start looking at just the business of
managing the country as a business and by that I mean, I looked
at both (PNP and JLP) manifestos and I see where there is
not really a plan, there is no five year, ten year, fifteen
year plan. We keep looking at how we get votes and get in
power and just look at how we can get votes after five years,
but there is no long-term plan for the country.
see where there is an emphasis on micro-enterprise but no
emphasis on the medium sized business. I don't see an emphasis
in the present manifestos and I would like to see a real plan
for growth of medium sized business after the elections.
LYNCH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DIGICEL
first observation would be to open up the economy and eliminate
the bureaucracy and create an environment that is more business
friendly. At the moment, there is a lot of bureaucracy put
in place in the business enterprise development. Government
organisations that put natural barriers in place for growth
and development. There are a couple of quick wins you can
get in all of this.
a phenomenon that exists in Jamaica. You always go for the
big win and you never pick up all the small bits and crumbs
and make a nice small cake and all the small cakes together
can feed the nation. If you look at the strength of Jamaica
itself, probably the biggest strength is the people and the
friendliness of the people. Tourism is a natural product and
music is a natural product. Most people would say you can't
develop an industry around music and that's rubbish. In Ireland
they developed a tourism industry around music so music and
tourism formed a very strong backbone to the Irish economy
at one stage so you can get those quick wins. The medium term
wins are where you invest in education. When you develop and
grow the people and can get into more value added and the
longer term projects that are the infrastructural type products
that are there. All of that needs to be packaged in terms
of repositioning of Jamaica externally. Certainly my perception
is totally different from 90 per cent of the people overseas.
Ninety per cent of the people overseas would see Jamaica as
a primary country and a place that you can't do business.
There is more cash in Jamaica, there is more business to be
done in Jamaica than most other countries around the world.
should encourage new businesses and small businesses. It is
not the big ones that will give us the overall success, its
the multiple small businesses.
VULINOVITCH, WESTERN CARIBBEAN GENERAL MANAGER FOR SHELL
we want to attract overseas investments we have to ensure
that we have consistency in terms of level playing field and
I think people mentioned the bureaucracy to get permits and
the difference in standards. Take service stations, which
has been in the news lately.
might be three or four different agencies that have different
standards. I think it's very important that we streamline
our approval and planning processes so that it reduces the
sort of bureaucracy and leads to investments.
I think where Jamaica has a huge opportunity is in the coming
five to ten years. There are going to be some significant
investments. One is Highway 2000. Once we open up the road,
companies like Lascelles or a major distributor like D&G,
will be able to have a more efficient distribution structure
to reduce working capital around the country (and) which will
reduce security. I think there is a huge opportunity for Jamaica.
The Government now has an opportunity to develop what we just
said, a mission, vision and objective, so people understand
where we are heading in the next five, ten years. Now is the
time to pull together and get a common vision and some objectives.
CHEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SUPERPLUS
have heard a pretty comprehensive list of issues and I would
like to add the efficiency of the judiciary. The court and
the judicial process, despite constant pronouncements, still
remain too slow and too inefficient and it's an easy win.
not that hard to fix but we have to have the will to fix it.
The second is organised crime as distinct from just regular
crime. There is a disturbing trend in Jamaica where power
and authority are moving into areas that we might not be comfortable
AMMAR, JR., PRESIDENT, JAMAICA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
are too much regulations and legislations that are repetitive.
Like with the Bureau of Standards - they continue to frustrate
the process of imports; to have standards that they pull out
of a hat. They don't use the US standards or the British standards,
they just invent their own despite the advice of the Chamber
of Commerce and the other trading organisations.
to bring in food now you have to get two or three different
permits from different Government agencies which can or cannot
be granted depending on what frame of mind they are in with
your particular company. The past JCC president had a major
problem because of his pronouncements about such permits.
second thing is urban renewal. I think our city is dying.
We have to start addressing the problems of Kingston, because
they are spreading to Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and the other
towns. No matter how much we promote Jamaica, each time there
is a flare-up in Kingston it destroys the image that we are
promoting. Kingston is not an expensive fix. If it were a
business decision it would have been made long ago.
the whole issue of the political arrangements that we are
now faced with, the constitutional reform issue, it is full
time that we start growing up as a people and a country and
stop accepting this silly system that we have been using since
Independence. I see no reason why we should not have a fixed
date for elections. The constitution is the foundation of
the country so we need to look at that from a private sector
point of view.
ISSA, CHAIRMAN, SUPERCLUBS
have to get justice in the system generally because we are
not going to have any peace without justice. In Jamaica if
you are not connected - whether it is connection because you
are well known, powerful, wealthy or in the case of someone
poor, you go into a rural hospital for example, if you don't
have some relative who is a nurse - you are treated like dirt.
we don't get that basic justice, we will never have peace
because people will say, if there is no fairness, let me grab
what I can.
has to decide that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted.
is impossible to successfully prosecute a violent criminal
because you cannot protect the witnesses and get them to court.
Its too easy to defeat justice.
need to bring back somebody like a Trevor McMillan who, although
somewhat hot-headed, had the confidence generally of the people.
I wonder what would happen if the present Commissioner stood
up and opposed people in authority, you know.
then education, I can't leave that one out, because if we
do not educate our people, you can't have a civilised society
and you are not going to be able to expand business and you
are not going to have a proper democracy because a successful
democracy is dependent on an educated population.
you should think about it, the majority of people living in
Jamaica in service say they would wish to live elsewhere.
Now, when the conditions are such to create that feeling,
it then makes it increasingly difficult to tell someone come
CLARKE, PRESIDENT, JAMAICA MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
we need is a Government that will treat the business sector
as innocent until proven guilty and not guilty until proven
innocent. Once they have that concept, then I think the whole
question of bureaucracy will be addressed.
you look at the question of the amendment to the Processed
Foods Act to facilitate food processors which is the fastest
growing sector in manufacturing today, that is on the books
for amendment for at least three, four years and it can't
be done. When you question it, they say the Parliamentary
Counsel has lots of work, and yet when there is legislation
that facilitates them, it can be rushed through in a few days.
think we need to see Government looking at the business sector
as a contributing area to the growth that they are trying
to establish. We also need to see efficiency in the Government.
ARNOLD, GENERAL MANAGER, GLOBE INSURANCE
believe we have to create an environment that will encourage
young people, especially those who are entrepreneurial, to
come and start small, and medium size businesses. A number
of young people tell me it's very very difficult for them
unless they have the correct profile to go to a bank and get
funding to start their own business. We are going to lose
a lot of people. The reason we have not lost them yet is because
of the recession in the States. If they could get jobs up
there they would have gone and I think the brain drain is
going to continue. Unless we really turn then on, motivate
them to give us the benefit of their talents, then we are
going to lose them.