Building a better Jamaica
I am 18 years old and I take a keen interest in the affairs of my country, especially issues relating to governance and the economy. I know that Jamaica is at an economic crossroads and our leaders must tread carefully because any decision taken can either boost the economy or keel it backward.
There is no quick fix to our problem of years of economic decay, but I believe that there are some ways in which the government can address the dents in our economy.
First, the government must move to reduce our import bill by a significant amount. In addition, the government must join with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association to identify areas of the different sectors of the economy where production can take place; incentives must be given to agro-processors, ICT players, and tourism and entertainment players. Indeed, if we want to experience economic growth, all hands must be on deck.
I believe that the government must put in place an aggressive debt-reduction management system that would include the continued servicing of the debt and the placement of a cap or a seal that would limit the amount of debt a government can acquire while in office.
Our leaders must move swiftly to address the scourge of crime and violence and the ever-increasing energy costs which pose a significant deterrent to existing and prospective business investors in Jamaica. We must not force our local and foreign investors to choose between their energy bill and the employment of a worker. Neither should we force them to choose between security costs and the employment of a worker; we must make a concerted effort to draft specific legislation geared at addressing these two parasites that feed on the backs of our businesses.
We must also move quickly to fast-track the pace at which pension and tax reform is going - the government must visit and adopt elements of the Private Sector Working Group's proposal on tax reform. I believe that the proposal of cutting corporation tax and the inclusion of certain items on the GCT exempted list would be to our advantage. It is time for the government to prescribe the medicine our economy sorely needs.
We must be proactive in our approach to the impending IMF agreement - in plain terms, we must move to address the structural economic flaws in our country before considering an agreement.
Should our island recover from the economic crunch it is in, our businesses must be given preference, especially those in the productive sectors, and our exports must surpass our imports. The message must be sent loud and clear that there can be no growth unless production with the aim of export occurs; the stage must be set for my generation to be a part of a country where its debt is low and net reserves are very high. However, all this can only be achieved if Jamaica's leaders heed the call of production.