Editorial

Five signs that Jamaican prosperity is now on the horizon

Thursday, January 16, 2014    

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THE dark cloud still hovering over the Jamaican economy makes it understandably difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Yet, there are five extremely positive signs that the prosperity we have long been waiting for, and which the Jamaican people so deserve, is now within grasp and no longer just a pipe dream.

Firstly, there is now a real prospect of significantly driving down the cost of energy to manufacturers and the country, in general, with construction beginning early this year of facilities for the 360-megawatt power plant that will bring additional generating capacity.

Secondly, construction, beginning this year, of facilities for the logistics hub, brings the real possibility of large numbers of jobs and massive stimulation of the Jamaican economy just counting the US$1.5 billion to be pumped in by the Chinese.

Thirdly, the exciting prospects in agriculture — long regarded as the Cinderella of the Jamaican economy — are beginning to sprout. This will force down food prices and save foreign exchange by reducing imports of food items. The agri-parks are leading the way, notwithstanding the hiccup at Plantain Garden, St Thomas.

Fourthly, the groundswell of support for legalisation of ganja across the globe brings the solid promise of a local ganja industry whose value is unquantifiable. Like our coffee, pimento, ginger, bauxite, to name a few, the Jamaican variety of cannabis is world-topping. With the two major political parties sipping from the same chalice, establishment shortly of a ganja growers and producers' association and the increasing number of countries touting legalisation, this is now a no-brainer.

Fifthly, the tight rein being applied on the economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which clearly wants a Jamaican success story to boost its image in the developing world, is ensuring effective fiscal management supported by unprecedented legislative changes and modernisation. This is actually happening for the first time and the IMF has found in Dr Peter Phillips the determined finance minister it had long wanted.

There are several other things going for us, including a strong tourism industry; the big Red Stripe project in cassava cultivation that will bring thousands of jobs; the improving private-public sector collaboration; the goodwill created by Mr Usain Bolt, Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Ms Tessanne Chin and our social stability.

We also believe that Jamaicans in the Diaspora are waiting to jump in with investments and skills, once they see the economic train rolling. It's something they've always wanted to do but for fear of certain loss of their hard-earned savings.

The sceptics will say that we have as a country been able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, so why will this time be any different? We suggest that never before have so many of the elements of success come together at the same time as now.

Jamaicans must begin to prepare to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. If we don't, foreigners looking a place to park their investment funds will continue to reap the benefits while we sit down and complain.

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