Policy Formulation and a National Energy Policy for Jamaica

Marcia Forbes PhD

Policy formulation takes time. It also takes focussed determination and a driver to stay with the process and follow it through to completion. My less than one year as Permanent Secretary in the service of the Government of Jamaica has allowed me the opportunity to actively participate in working toward the completion of four policies—the Draft Comprehensive National Minerals Policy, the Draft ICT Policy (formerly the Telecoms Policy), the Draft National Energy Policy 2009 -- 2030 (formerly the Energy Green Paper 2006) and the Draft Carbon Emissions Trading Policy.

Both the Minerals Policy and the National Energy Policy await sign-off by Cabinet. The status of the ICT Policy is unclear. However, as at April 2009 when I served as Permanent Secretary with responsibility for the telecommunications portfolio, that draft document was within weeks of cabinet submission. The Carbon Emissions Trading Policy is now undergoing consultations with key stakeholders.

The consultative process is a sine qua non of policy formulation and the value of it must never be under-estimated. Feedback from various levels of stakeholders is critical to the development of a rounded, well thought out policy. Without participation and buy-in from key government stakeholders, a policy will never get Cabinet approval, far less passage through Parliament. Without participation and buy-in from non-government stakeholders, such as the business sectors which the policy will impact, a policy becomes difficult, if not impossible, to implement.

This brings me to the Draft National Energy 2009- 2030, a policy which evolved out of the Energy Green Paper 2006. For general knowledge, a Green Paper represents a document which is a first step in the policy formulation process. Several more steps are needed before the policy comes into effect. Immediately on taking office as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mining in April 2009, I evaluated the Energy Green Paper. In view of the critical role of energy to national development, moving from Green Paper to a National Energy Policy was my number # 1 priority.

That evaluation informed the essential next steps. The world had changed significantly since 2006. The document therefore needed more relevant and up-to-date data. Goals needed to be properly articulated and a clearly defined monitoring and implementation schedule spelt out. Comments derived from a series of stakeholders’ consultations conducted in 2008 needed to be infused into the document. Importantly as well, by 2009 Vision 2030 a national development plan for Jamaica had been articulated, with energy as a lynchpin variable of this vision. There would therefore be no point in pushing Parliament to debate the 2006 Energy Green Paper as that document was now out-dated.

Along with a small team, including Dr. Carlton Davis, Mr. Zia Mian, Mr. William Saunders, Ms. Leonie Barnaby and Ms Elizabeth Emmanuel, ably guided by Mr. Fitzroy Vidal of the Ministry, we worked tirelessly to produce a Draft National Energy Policy. Last month (July, 2009) this was submitted to Cabinet as a White Paper for debate and anticipated approval. Within two months the newly created Ministry of Energy and Mining had therefore moved along in the policy formulation process toward a National Energy Policy.

The policy is hinged on the following seven goals:

Goal 1
Jamaicans use energy wisely and aggressively pursue opportunities for conservation and efficiency.

Goal 2
Jamaica has a modernized and expanded energy infrastructure that enhances energy generation capacity and ensures that energy supplies are safely, reliably and affordably transported to homes, communities and the productive sectors on a sustainable basis.

Goal 3
Jamaica realizes its energy resource potential through the development of renewable energy sources and enhances its international competitiveness, energy security whilst reducing its carbon footprint.

Goal 4
Jamaica’s energy supply is secure and sufficient to support long-term economic and social development and environmental sustainability.

Goal 5
Jamaica has a well-defined and established governance, institutional, legal and regulatory framework for the energy sector, that facilitates stakeholder involvement and engagement.

Goal 6
Government ministries and agencies are a model/leader in energy conservation and environmental stewardship in Jamaica.

Goal 7
Jamaica’s industry structures embrace eco-efficiency for advancing international competitiveness and move towards building a green economy.

Carefully crafted implementation and evaluation schedules are critical to policy success. These are the ‘next steps’ now being pursued by the Ministry of Energy and Mining in relation to the National Energy Policy even as we await its sign-off by Cabinet.