In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, former Jamaican prime minister Edward Seaga says with most of the island’s major earners now in an indefinite slump, the country’s hope lies in the development of its human and agricultural resources. “The country only has two resources which are not fully developed yet, and they are the human resource and agriculture. Everything else has been developed; there is hardly any space left for tourism, mining is in the doldrums, manufacturing is definitely in the doldrums,” he told editors and reporters yesterday at the Observer’s weekly Monday Exchange.
However, he noted that while both have “vast potential”, the large number of persons who were uneducated might prove a greater challenge. “We have an uneducated people. Every year we turn out 30 per cent who have some career prospect and 70 per cent who can’t do anything. How can a country prosper with that?” he said.
In the meantime, Seaga said his historic reference to the gap between the ‘haves and the have-nots’, made during one of his first speeches as a legislator in the 1960s, has now taken a different slant altogether. “When I spoke about it we had a criminal justice system, we didn’t have a good education system. When I spoke about it, agriculture was thriving, people had work, but today the system is much broader than an income flow,” he pointed out. “As I said in my departure speech when I left Parliament (2005), if you look back to the independence period, the criminal justice system today is far worse than it was then. The education system has not shown the benefit expected. Today, primary school students still can’t get past the exam; 70 per cent of them are failing, so we haven’t moved,” he noted. According to the former prime minister, the “economy today is not what it was in the ’60s”.
“In the ’60s we were considered the Jamaican miracle, we were the fastest-growing developing country. Today we haven’t moved one inch, we haven’t really progressed. So, it’s not ‘haves and have-nots’ now in terms of the little man and his problems; it is a society that is experiencing a have and a have-not so there is no real change,” he stressed.
For the complete interview go to http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20091012T200000-0500_161645_OBS__SEAGA_SAYS_JAMAICA_S_HOPE_LIES_IN_DEVELOPMENT_OF_AGRICULTURE__HUMAN_RESOURCES.asp