Jamaica as rich today as US was 100 years ago

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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JAMAICA is as rich today as the US was back in 1916, according to an online infographic published this month by US-based Vox Media.

It indicates that the island remains a century behind the development of the world's richest nation. The political leadership of Jamaica, however, aims to take the island to developed nation status under its Vision 2030 plan.

The animated infographic pits the richest nation in the world on its development path since the 1800s to the present with all other nations of the world. It's a graphic that's trending globally and prepared by Vox's Kavya Sukumar using data from Gapminder.

The graphic shows that in 1916 the US held a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of some US$8,818 which equates roughly to the island's purchasing power parity GDP. Some economists might pick at its absolute accuracy, but the compilers ask for allowance of a 10 per cent margin to make the larger point of development.

"[It] lets you select any year in American history and see which countries were richer in 2013 than the US was then, which were poorer, and which were about equal (within 10 per cent )," stated Vox, the US-based digital media company with eight editorial brands.

Data from the island's key lender the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicate that the island's per capita GDP (2013) stands at US$5,060 which translates to about US$8,000 in terms of purchasing power parity.

"For Haiti, the comparison is even more brutal. Its 2013 GDP per capita was US$1,650. In 1800, one of the earliest years for which we have data, the US's was US$2,100," Vox indicated. "There are obviously limitations to these kinds of comparisons. Some Haitians have access to technology poor Americans in 1800 could only dream of, and our GDP data get less reliable the farther back you go."

Jamaica signed a US$932.3-million four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the IMF. The programme calls for the reduction of Jamaica's debt from some 145 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 96 per cent by 2020. It also includes achieving a 7.5 per cent primary budgetary surplus target; implementation of a National Debt Exchange programme; currency depreciation; tax reform; and public sector reform -- restructuring of salaries to reduce ratio to GDP from 10.6 per cent to nine per cent by 2015/16.





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