Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | October 13, 2009
Home : Letters
LETTER OF THE DAY - 'Erroneous assertions about PIOJ'

The Editor, Sir:

I have long taken the decision to ignore most of the uninform comments made by columnists who have used the opportunity presented to them to advance their own viewpoints on issues, with seemingly no concern for the facts. However, I feel obliged to respond to the column by Errol Hewitt, published on the editorial page of The Sunday Gleaner of October 11.

In his column, Mr Hewitt makes two false assertions about the role of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) during the previous administration, which serve not only to mislead but also to diminish the sterling work of the professionals who work at that institution. In the first place Mr. Hewitt asserted that "Omar Davies, however, reduced the PIOJ to becoming a department of his ministry largely responsible for monitoring external loans". In the second instance he has credited Prime Minister Golding with being responsible for initiating work on the strategic plan for developed status, titled Vision 2030.

As regards the first assertion, at best, this displays total ignorance on Mr Hewitt's part, of the central role played by Dr Wesley Hughes and the PIOJ as part of the technical team advising the administration on socio-economic issues and policies. However, perhaps of greater importance was the extent to which the PIOJ further entrenched its role in the assessment and policy formulation on social issues. For example, the technical work carried out by the staff of the PIOJ on anti-poverty policies and programmes has gained international recognition and acknowledgement.

Mr Hewitt's second assertion is even more puzzling, as it is a matter of public record, including a speech in Parliament by the then Leader of Opposition, Bruce Golding, indicating that, based on my specific instructions to the PIOJ, he had been officially consulted on Vision 2030, on which work was well advanced. Furthermore, at the official launch of Vision 2030, following the change of administration, Prime Minister Golding explicitly spoke of continuity of policy, as evidenced by the fact that work on Vision 2030 was progressing, without any interruption.

It may be that ignorance of the facts explains the reasons that Mr Hewitt advanced these erroneous positions. However, there is a less charitable interpretation, to which I was introduced by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. He once told me that there were many persons who, in seeking to advance a viewpoint, would refuse to have this position influenced by the facts.

Only Mr Hewitt can clarify which of the two possible causes explains his erroneous assertions.

I am, etc.,


Opposition Spokesman on

Finance and Planning

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