The president of the Inter- American Development Bank Group and Therese Turner-Jones my other good friend, the General Manager for the Caribbean Country Department of the IDB
Dr The Honourable Ambassador Nigel Clarke, MP, Minister of Finance and the Public Service and also my good friend
My other good friend The Right Reverend Howard Gregory who I know prays for me every morning without fear. Your prayers are working Bishop, please continue to pray fervently.
Our financial secretary, Darlene Morrison and other officials of the Ministry of Finance
The Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, I’m acknowledging him in his absence
Dr Wayne Henry, Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, acknowledging him in his absence as well
Officials and staff of the Inter- American Development Bank
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen, this is truly a good morning and let me be the first to welcome you to the neighbourhood. You may pop in up the road for tea anytime.
I’m delighted to be here this morning to welcome the IDB to its new home which is very close to a special place. Congratulations on the construction and today’s opening of your new office building. The attention to detail is noted from using a local team of experts for the design, construction and overall management of the process- we’re very happy that you’ve done so, to being designed to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold standard (the LEED standard); that is something that we encourage all our new buildings to adopt and to incorporate in several disaster preparedness features and to being fully accessible to those with disabilities and I think that is very important.
You have smartly incorporated some of the very forward-thinking practices that you promote to us as clients. This is demonstrating true leadership. The other thing that I want to point out Therese is that, I’ve been driving pass there and I was wondering what was happening here. I was actually very surprised to learn that it was your new head office but the other thing that pleasantly surprised me is the speed at which it was done; very important. Now, we take note of your comments President Moreno that it was not if you were to take the entirety of the project from conception to delivery; it took 9 years. It is not exactly Usain Bolt speed but in my Independence Day message I made the point that there is or there does not necessarily have to be a trade-off between speed and process and our growing emerging developing bureaucracy wrestles with this notion because there is a sense that if process doesn’t take time then it wasn’t done properly and until we get the culture of our bureaucracy changed and I used Usain Bolt as an example that he had to follow a process, he had to train hard, diligently, consistently, he had to follow a routine, a regime, a regiment. I don’t know how many of you saw his film and saw the hard work that he had to do in order to make the world records that he has and so it is for our bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy doesn’t mean slow, it doesn’t mean dense, it doesn’t mean pedantic; it means that you have to follow the process but also be quick about it and it is in following process sometimes that you can actually be quick because one you start to look at your processes and start to re-engineer your processes for quick delivery of results, that is when you’re going to see more buildings like this come up in Kingston. We take very careful note of the ease of doing business in this and where Jamaica stands in that. We are not pleased that we’re ninety-eight in the whole business of permitting for construction. We’re not pleased that we’re sixty-eight in the delivery of electricity to new applicants. We’re absolutely not pleased that we’re a hundred and thirty-eight in the ease of cross-border trading; we’re not pleased but we’re very happy that we’re number five for the ease of starting a new business.
We can do it, we can do it Jamaica. Yesterday as you know, I’ve taken on another portfolio and I want to assure you President Moreno that I’m not going to be stretching myself too much, so it is only a temporary measure but a useful measure because it has given me the opportunity to delve deeply into the operations of some of our bureaucratic structures and I give you one of them, what we call our General Electrical Regulators and as a former minster in that ministry you would be aware of the policy change that was made which was to instead of having the government do electrical inspections we would seek to contract out the service; that was a policy decision taken in the previous government in 2015, a move which I supported in parliament but it has not been fully implemented to this date. We have eleven electrical inspectors Mr President, to inspect the entire island to approve electrical installations.
Now, you can imagine that we’re basically just setting ourselves up for inefficiency and for corruption which are the flip-side of the same coin. We intend to have that implemented swiftly. By the end of the year, I’ve given that directive to the Ministry of Energy that we must have the new regulatory policy decision which was made in 2015 implemented by the end of this year because it is simple decisions like these which helps us to move up on the index and it is not just a matter of trying for bragging rights that we’ve moved up the index but it is a real thing. If we’re able to give approvals for electrical installations quickly it means that we can have more spanking new buildings like these happening with more rapidity. When I look around and I noticed that some of the workers who worked on this building they are here and they are looking on, they are probably looking on and saying when is the next project? Well the next project is in the pipeline waiting for approvals and the best thing we can do for them in our own little way as civil servants, public servants, as technocrats, as bureaucrats is to move the approval process along within procession process but swiftly.
Let us build a Usain Bolt bureaucracy for Jamaica. You’re not clapping for that? I have another speech to give so I’m going to save a little of my energy for that. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here at this opening and I want to say thanks to our friends at the IDB.
During dark times, during difficult times and good times you’ve been there with us and we don’t forget that, and we see this as a sign of confidence and we will continue to work together to make Jamaica the greatest country in the Caribbean.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.