Government Walking On Quicksand

Since Jamaica gained its independence in 1962, its problems seem to have grown insurmountable, especially since the 1970s and onwards.

The recent court action between the Jamaica Police Federation, which represents the rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Government over back pay is a case in point.

The country appears to be always in a predicament in meeting its financial obligations and contractual commitments to essential public sector workers, such as police, teachers, nurses, among others.

The local singing group, The Ethiopians, captured what has beleaguered the country well in their 1960s hit song titled, “Everything Crash.”

Look deh now, everyting crash!

Firemen strike, watermen strike

Telephone company too

Down to policemen too!

One can rest assured that after the Government’s stop-gap four percent wage agreement with the different public sector groups ends next year, there will be another standoff.

The fact of the matter is the Government has to be juggling its limited resources to meet the increasing demand of its citizens.

In other words, everyone wants an increased slice of the limited size of the pie.

Truth be told, Jamaica’s economy has grown on average by less than one percent for the past thirty years.

Moreover, given the country’s indebtedness, there is little left in the dollar to meet its obligation.

In 2020, the national debt of Jamaica amounted to approximately 107.42 percent of GDP.

Today, the country derives most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina.

Earnings from remittances and tourism each account for 14% and 20% of GDP, while bauxite/alumina exports have declined to less than 5% of GDP.

The country has operated on a “soon come” economy for years, and over 90% of the population don’t know what a booming economy looks like or is it in their vocabulary.

Additionally, the high level of unemployment and crime rate have hampered the country’s progress.

What this means is that there must be a paradigm shift in the way in which the Government goes about implementing growth-inducing policies.

At the same time, local businesspeople must begin to act like capitalists.

Until then, I would argue that all the Government is doing is going around in circles.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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