A letter writer's pain points to Ja's bane

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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WE invite readers to ponder these very compelling lines from a letter to the editor which was published in yesterday's edition of the Jamaica Observer:

"It has been months since I left Jamaica. After facing many difficulties in setting up a business in Jamaica, I decided to invest in Myanmar, where unprecedented changes abound. I am learning, unlearning and relearning every day. But my heart is still with Jamaica: UWI, Princess Street, Montego Bay and the hills of Kingston.

"...Today, I believe Jamaican leaders and leadership must change. I also believe the leadership of our political parties must find genuine and candid ways to work together. Transgenerational jealousy, rivalries... in an island of 2.7 million people must be removed with determination and will. Christian principles and values must be reinstated and preached. Social mobility and equal opportunities for all must be encouraged. My Jamaican dream is not over. I look forward to coming back."

We might have overlooked this letter written by Mr Lewis Leung, the president of Prince Edward Road Management Co Ltd based in Hong Kong, China, had it not been for the fact that it makes the point, better than we could ever do here, about the real bane of Jamaica.

We are just not attractive enough to foreign investors!

There really is no need for us to trot out the already well-known economic figures to prove the point. But even more telling than the numbers is the personal testimony of someone who has fallen in love with Jamaica and Jamaicans, and yet was forced to take his money elsewhere.

The point being made is that people don't invest money in a country merely because they have a love affair with that country and its people. Those who do are the rare exceptions. Investors want to know that there is every likelihood of them realising reasonable returns on their investment.

So while we are here bemoaning the lack of investment in our country, there are people who come to invest and have to leave. How much sense does that make? More importantly, what are we going to do to encourage the likes of Mr Leung to return?

Of one thing we are certain, it will not be done by squabbling over fundamental issues such as when we are going to have an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF negotiations must not become a political football because there is too much riding on it. That ought to be very clear to everyone who sees the continuing depletion of the Net International Reserves (NIR) and the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.

Indeed, while we encourage Opposition spokesman on finance, Mr Audley Shaw in his dutiful watch over the portfolio, we at the same time suggest to him that there is no need for the finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips to stay away from the IMF and World Bank meetings in Japan.

Given the level of technology available to us in this modern world, there is hardly anything Mr Phillips can do here that he can't do from Japan with regard to the IMF.

What we are hoping for is that Messrs Shaw and Phillips are exchanging notes and ideas as to how to get the best deal for Jamaica out of the current negotiations.

It's not a party thing now, it's a Jamaica thing.




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