Letters to the Editor

Moving Jamaica forward

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Since the 1970s the economic fortunes of Jamaica have been in a tailspin. The PNP and the JLP have rotated in office and from time to time there have been brief moments of optimism. But increasingly Jamaicans are wondering if they are better off today than they were in the 1960s. It is a fair question. Early retirees in Jamaica today can recall the years when Jamaica entered Independence, partly because some of its leaders thought that the island was economically better off than the majority of its late unlamented federal companions. But the question of whether Jamaica is better off in 2012 than any time in the 1960s is not easily answered.

Pondering the question requires considerations of macro and microeconomics, of class segmentation, of economic sector cohorts, and of individual status. The question can be answered in general, based on assumed median accomplishment indicators for the 1960s and 2012. That is to say, one could take a measure of family income for the two years that are compared and then calculate how many Jamaicans are above or below the mean.

Although there are other serious problems, moving Jamaica forward requires that the government pay more attention to the economy. But the discussions should be publicly held, outside Parliament as well as within. The government, having declared certain economic goals, should each year tell Jamaicans exactly which ones have been met, and precisely why there were failures. This should not just be parliamentary debates between the two self-indulgent political parties. If Jamaica is to resolve its many problems, then it needs a new start with all Jamaicans working together. And that cannot be done successfully when the government behaves as though it alone bears the responsibility for change.

John Hall

Kingston

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