Professor (Emeritus) of Economics at Stanford University, Donald Harris, has put forward a number of reform measures which he believes will help to put the Jamaican economy back on a sound financial footing.
Prof. Harris made his presentation at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s first national economic forum: ‘Economic growth Agenda’, held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
His recommendations were contained in his research titled ‘Towards an Export-led Strategy for Jamaica: Lessons from Experience with the National Industrial Policy’, and presented during a session at which Prime Minister Bruce Golding addressed top JCC executives..
Professor Harris was the principal architect of the National Industrial Policy which was developed in the 1990’s. He told The Economic Forum that the strategy adopted and promulgated in the NIP, was not the strategy pursued by the then Government. Professor Harris said the strategy pursued by the government was very different from that proposed in the NIP, and that strategy ultimately proved to be “unsustainable, self-defeating and undermined the very goals of the NIP”.
Among his recommendations was a call for what he described as ‘a re-thinking of the meaning of leadership.’
“We have to think about the kind of leadership that is not pure charisma, but one that manages the Cabinet first and foremost, to ensure everyone does their job right, that they communicate the vision and implement it’s ‘Good leadership’.”
Other recommendations to deal with what Professor Harris described as “the failure of economic strategy and the failure of implementation,” called for the separation of development and planning from the Ministry of Finance. According to him, the Minister of Finance should be put back to properly manage the budget, and called for the reigning in of the statutory bodies to ensure that they balance their books .
He further suggested that the Prime Minister Golding institute a systematic process of oversight. This is said would be a creative way of beefing up the functions of the Auditor General, the Contractor General and Director of Public Prosecution, as a way of ensuring that they do their jobs effectively.
On the issue of productive investments, Prof. Harris suggested that a policy to encourage financial innovators be developed so they will come up with new ways of creating opportunities for exporters. “There is also the need to strengthen the technical and administrative capacity of human resources and to look at how to rejuvenate the executive positions in the executive agencies so as not to allow people to be promoted to top positions and left there to vegetate for 15-20 years,” added Prof. Harris.
Prof. Harris, who is a Jamaican, has held numerous distinguished academic positions at the University of Cambridge, UK, Yale University in the US and the Delhi School of Economics in India. His current work includes projects for the Inter- American Development Bank, and World Bank in the Bahamas, Dominica, and Trinidad & Tobago. He has completed comparative analyses of export performances in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Dominica Republic, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Professor Harris has published several books and articles on Capital accumulation and Income Distribution, Economic development and technological change.