As someone who abhors debt or indebtedness, my wish for a memorable jubilee year is for Jamaica to become as debt-free as possible. By now we should all be aware of the grim situation facing the country and instead of spending what we do not have on elaborate celebrations, why don't we all chip in and give our country a one-time gift towards the reduction of the national debt.
My suggestion is that we ask every Jamaican, here and abroad, to join hands in this effort. As each person's birthday comes up during the year of Jubilee, instead of buying that new dress, a holiday abroad, a cake for your child, a birthday party, or whatever else you had planned to spend on, give the equivalent monetary value to your country. In the long run, we will be ensuring a better future for our children and grandchildren. Accounts could be set up in various financial institutions, monitored by an accounting firm for the sake of transparency. Each month a list of names and the amount of the gift could be published and the funds collected would go directly to pay off the debt, and not into the hands of the government.
We are told that every Jamaican (man, woman, child) is indebted to the tune of $600,000. In 1999 we were told it was less than half of that amount. This situation cannot be allowed to continue and since there seems to be no immediate growth in any sector, I see no alternative but for us to pull together and do something "outside of the box" such as was done by Butch Stewart some years ago. Not being an economist, I am not sure how the financial institutions who hold our debt will take to this suggestion as it will mean loss of interest income to them as we pay down our debt. However, we need to think of the wider society and the future of our children, and I am sure the banks can lend to manufacturers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and the little man or woman who would like to borrow $50,000 to start a home-based business.
If we can get seven million people in the world, each contributing $1,000, we would have $7 billion towards debt reduction. Some people and companies can contribute much more. If we can do this over a five-year period, we could bring the debt down by $35 billion. A one-time contribution each year is much less painful than consistent and higher taxes every year.
Are you ready to take up this challenge and encourage others to do so? If so, pass this on, let us get a consensus and do this for each other, our children, grandchildren and the entire country. We need to break this economic bondage and one way to do this is to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves".