The Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing held an Executive Staff Retreat at the Jamaica Conference Centre Between November 15 and 16, 2012.

The Retreat which was held under the theme, ‘To go forward, retreat’, had as its major objectives the focusing on strategic priorities, particularly those for the ensuing fiscal year and involved all the Units within the Ministry, in addition to Agencies reporting to it.

In opening the Retreat, Permanent Secretary Mrs. Audrey Sewell explained that the event was being planned for quite some time but said she was happy that ‘for the first time at last we are here’. She welcomed all the participants, especially the Agencies noting that it is through the Agencies that the Ministry implements its policies and programmes, hence the need for ‘strategic alignment between the policies of the Ministry and objectives and strategies of the Agencies’. “It is for this reason that we have to meet periodically to have this kind of interaction to ensure that all have a clear vision of what is to be done and who is to do what,” she added.

In pointing to the challenging environment in which the Ministry and by extension, Jamaica is operating the PS said, “The developments in the international arena have had a direct impact on our country and the implications we are well aware of. We are forced to re-look at our operations; find new ways of doing things; we have new challenges, new problems hence new solutions, new business priorities and business processes.”

And giving the charge to those present, Minister Omar Davies used the opportunity to thank the staff for their stewardship and said that the Retreat was an important initiative which was critical to the smooth functioning of the Ministry. He noted that the perennial problem of too many priorities and too few resources was one from which the Ministry suffers and advised the audience not to become daunted by that scenario.

Minister Davies outlined a blueprint that he says he is encouraging the Ministry to observe while executing its functions. These he recommended as:

• Be prompt

• Be innovative and flexible

• Work at developing a customer friendly organization

• Be efficient at what is done

• Work at improving the unfavorable perception

• Be truthful and straightforward with the various publics

Also speaking at the Retreat was Minister without portfolio (Housing) Hon. Dr. Morais Guy who highlighted the fact that the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing had one of if not the broadest reaches in terms of its impact on the population. In that respect he says he would like to see us become a very responsive organization especially to the various publics whom we serve. He bemoaned the fact that there seemed to be a ‘division’ in the Ministry whereby persons at the two locations (The Towers and Maxfield Avenue) seemingly thought of themselves as two different entities. He called for integration where all saw themselves as being part of one family. In terms of improvement initiatives, he recommended that:

• The PR machinery of the Ministry needs to be ramped up to ‘put the many things we are doing on display

• Respond to queries in a timely manner

• Empathize with our customers.

Minister Guy also used the occasion to outline several plans taking place within the housing portfolio, in particular that with Food for the Poor, and others with the NHT, the Housing Agency of Jamaica and OPERATION PRIDE.

The sessions which were moderated by Mr. Barry Robinson was well received by all those in attendance. The various Unit Heads gave presentations of operations in their respective Units; there were also various sessions where vigorous discussions and discourse took place.

Minister Davies addressing the Retreat