After failed experiments, it’s morning again in JamaicaSaturday, February 25, 2017
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. — Winston Churchill
A year ago political defeat laid its cold, withered hands upon the People’s National Party (PNP). Today, they are clasped like the jaws of a fully fastened vice grip. Three hundred and sixty-six days after February 25, 2016, Norman Manley’s Party is suffering with advanced political bruxism, and dangerous bouts of irritable bowel and Jamaica House withdrawal syndromes.
The 79-year-old PNP is transfixed in an alligator-like political death roll. But it is feeding on its own kind. Darker clouds are gathering over the PNP even as Portia Simpson Miller, an epitome of political failure, has been forced to pack her bags.
It was the third plebeian in Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar who said — and here I take liberties — "I fear there will a worse come in [her] place."
On February 25, 2016 and November 28, 2016, Jamaicans soundly rejected the ‘mi a suffera’ doctrine propagated by the PNP over many decades. It was Will Spencer who famously said: "We promote poverty as a virtue, and then wonder why there is so much of it." This traitorous dictum was spread by a partially complicit media, institutions of higher learning, powerful elements of popular culture, and sycophants of a wretched philosophy that was hatched from Fabianism in Britain.
The economically cruel experiment of democratic socialism was declared "dead" by its premier local lieutenant, former Prime Minister Michael Manley, at a National Executive Council Meeting at The University of the West Indies in the 1990s.
Manley also publicly rejected democratic socialism in Washington, DC,. after he got a third bite of Jamaica’s choicest political cherry.
"The Michael Manley who visited the United States in 1990 had cast aside his Che Guevara bush jacket in favour of a suit. The free market had replaced his party’s ‘ten steps to socialism’. President Bush was happy to bless a sinner who had apparently repented, and he went out of his way to praise the ‘first-class job’ that Mr Manley was doing as prime minister of Jamaica. It takes style and gall to change sides successfully, and Mr Manley had plenty of both. He turned on a reporter, who seemed puzzled that the old leftie had become a free marketer, and said: ‘Is your outlook on everything the same as it was 10 years ago?’ " (
The Economist, March 1997)
The birds, those reliable John Chewits, Banana Quits and Black-Bellied Plovers, are chirping that some in the upper, upper echelons of the PNP are insisting on a return to democratic socialism.
Economist magazine, in March 1997, also gave a glimpse of the disaster wrought upon Jamaicans by Manley and democratic socialism: "Not all of Jamaica’s poverty was Mr Manley’s fault. Oil prices jumped, sugar prices did not. But he deserved much of the blame. In 1980, at the end of Mr Manley’s first eight years as prime minister, the tourist hotels were almost empty, and so were the supermarket shelves. Much of the middle class had moved to Miami or Toronto. Almost 900 people had been killed in the run-up to the election, partly as a result of warfare between gangs allied to political parties." (
The Economist, March 1997)
Jamaica must never again go back down the dangerous road of democratic socialism. I will reveal more anon.
Our major focus as a country must centre on regaining our status as the Pearl of the Caribbean. This Andrew Holness-led Administration is making some important strides in the right direction. These recent disclosures in a
Jamaica Observer article by Keith Duncan, co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, indicate the real prospects for happier economic times if we stay on the straight and narrow:
"Government recorded a primary balance of $76.6 billion for the first nine months of the fiscal year, which was $22.6 million ahead of target, while grants and revenues amounted to $351.9 billion, which was 5.2 per cent above the budgeted $334.5 billion. He further indicated that tax revenue intake was $322 billion, some $22 billion above budget, which he attributed to increased compliance and overall improvement in the performance of the economy.
"Duncan said non-borrowed reserves from deposit-taking institutions totalled US$1.667 billion, as against US$1.418 billion, while the out-turn for rate of inflation was 1.7 per cent, which was ‘within the target range that is agreed on with the International Monetary Fund’. Additionally, he said based on preliminary data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the gross domestic product for the December 2016 quarter was estimated to have increased by 1.5 per cent, relative to the corresponding period the previous year." (
Observer, February 10, 2017)
This Andrew Holness Administration could have squandered the gains made by the previous Administration. They have not.
The previous Administration capitalised on the economic groundwork laid by the Bruce Golding Administration. This is good governance. Confucius said: "Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."
The present Administration is holding their bat straight, avoiding wayward shots, and they are scoring runs.
Those who say, ‘Nothing has happened in Jamaica since our last general election’, are involved in severe self-delusion, rooted in bad mind. Norman Manley, national hero, warned us about folks who suffer with a "corruption of consciousness".
The incontrovertible evidence supports the reality that we are starting to see — and here I take liberties with Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan, "It’s morning again in America" — morning again in Jamaica.
Now, what are the indicators of this sunrise?
1. Inflation is at a 45-year low.
"The Statistical Institute of Jamaica has reported that Jamaica’s inflation rate remains at a record low level, and was 1.7 per cent at the end of December.
"It’s the lowest inflation rate the country has seen in more than 45 years. According to the website
Trading Economics, which analyses economic data from more than 196 countries, the inflation rate in Jamaica has averaged 9.79 per cent from 2002 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 26.49 per cent in August 2008, and a record low of 1.60 per cent in November 2016." (
Observer, January 18, 2017)
2. Business, consumer confidence are at all-time highs.
"Business and consumer confidence remained more favourable in 2016 than at any time since the survey began 15 years ago, managing director of Market Research Services Don Anderson revealed this morning.
"The business confidence index stood at 142 in the fourth quarter of 2016 — October to December — while consumer confidence was 151.6 in the third and fourth quarters, just below the average of 151.7 during the year.
"Almost two-thirds of firms reported that it was a good time to expand their productive capacity to take advantage of future economic opportunities, and 53 per cent said they expected an improved economy during the quarter, up from 49 per cent.
"A majority of firms expected improvements in their financial prospects as well as growth in profits." (
The Gleaner, January 17, 2017)
3. More people, especially the youth, are getting jobs.
"Unemployment in Jamaica continues to decline, with the figure at 12.9 per cent as at July 2016, the lowest quarterly rate in five years.
"This is according to the latest labour force survey undertaken by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.
"The rate for the July quarter was 0.2 per cent lower than the figure recorded for January 2015 and 0.8 per cent less than April 2016.
"The youth unemployment rate also saw a decline of 1.3 per cent to 29.6 per cent.
"Director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry, said that the total number of employed persons as at July 2016 stood at 1,186,900 — an increase of 39,400 persons relative to July 2015. He said this represents the highest level of employment ever recorded for a single month." (
Observer, November 17, 2016)
4. Our economy is poised for further double-digit growth.
"Therese Turner-Jones, the Inter-American Development Bank country representative in Jamaica, has said that she expects the calendar year to end with the economy still barrelling on its positive path.
The Gleaner yesterday, Turner-Jones said that the positives that have emerged in the Jamaican economy so far this year were expected as the Andrew Holness-led Administration has stayed on course.
" ‘With the year ending, I think Jamaica is in a good place. The primary balance has been achieved and the debt is coming down. Inflation has remained low, so prices are stable. Those are all good indicators,’ she stated." (
The Gleaner, December 14, 2016)
5. Job-creating projects are no longer a rarity.
Headline: ‘PM breaks ground for BPO complex to employ 3,000’
"Prime Minister Andrew Holness broke ground on February 16, 2017 for the construction of a 150,000 sq ft business process outsourcing (BPO) space at the Portmore Informatics Park, in St Catherine, which is expected to employ 3,000 persons. The US$23-million project, being implemented by the Port Authority of Jamaica, is expected to be completed in one year." (
Jamaica Information Service, February 16, 2016)
Headline: ‘ItelBPO to double operation, workforce by year end’
"Yoni Epstein’s home-grown business process outsourcing company, ItelBPO Smart Solutions, is looking to double its staff in 12 months.
"This will take its total number employed to 1,500. The commitment comes as the firm officially opened its fourth site in Jamaica recently.
"ItelBPO Smart Solutions added a new centre in Montego Bay, where it now operates two facilities. The others are in Kingston and The Bahamas. The company’s four facilities together span 50,000 square feet of working space, but Epstein says he will be expanding the existing facilities in Jamaica during 2017." (
The Gleaner, January 11, 2017)
Headline: ‘BPO sector heating up...Sutherland Global Services promises to employ all graduates of new BPO degree.’ (
Observer, February 17, 2017)
6. Development projects get off the ground
Headline: ‘Dredging on Kingston Harbour begins’
"Seven weeks into the dredging of Port Bustamante in the Kingston Harbour to facilitate larger ships coming through the Panama Canal, the company contracted to do the excavation is reporting that there are ‘no visible impacts’ on fishing beaches in proximity to the operation sites." (
Observer, February 22, 2017)
Headline: ‘Jamaica, China sign agreement to build a children’s hospital in MoBay’ (
Observer, January 9, 2017)
7. Tourism is on the rise.
Jamaica Observer, August 8, 2016: ‘Bartlett reports highest visitor arrival in July’
"Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the highest number of visitors for any July was recorded this year, amounting to 211,000."
Jamaica Observer, November 7, 2016: ‘Ja records over 5% increase in visitor arrivals, earnings’
"Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett disclosed that Jamaica’s tourism sector has registered an increase of over five per cent in both visitor arrivals and gross foreign exchange earnings for the first nine months of 2016.
The Gleaner, January 8, 2017: ‘J$100-m Dragon Bay Hotel redevelopment to get under way this year’
Headline: ‘Kingston to welcome another cruise ship March 5’
MS Serenissima is due to bring cruise ship passengers to the Port of Kingston on March 5, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett told the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation council on Tuesday.
"The minister, who disclosed that he has been meeting with cruise ship officials, said that Kingston is now open for cruise ships.
"On December 15, 2016, the
SS Monarch, which had 2,700 passengers on board, docked at the Kingston Wharves. It was the largest cruise ship to ever call on the capital city." (
Observer, February 16, 2017)
8. Agriculture is growing by leaps and bounds.
Headline: ‘PIOJ reports growth in agriculture, forestry and fisheries’
"The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported an estimated seven per cent growth in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries for the three months ending June 2016.
"According to newly appointed director general of the PIOJ, Wayne Henry, growth in the industries was due to a recorded increase of 13.5 per cent for agricultural crops and an increase of 6.7 per cent for animal farming.
"The increase in output for other agricultural crops reflected growth in six of the nine crop groups, led by legumes, up 36.6 per cent; fruits, up 31.6 per cent; vegetables, up 21.2 per cent; and condiments, up 16.0 per cent.
"Growth in animal farming was pushed by broiler meat production, up 7.2 per cent; and egg production, up 22.1 per cent." (
Observer, August 30, 2016)
I am betting on Jamaica, full stop!
I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. — Coleman Cox
Garfield Higgins is an educator; journalist; and advisor to the minister of education, youth and information. Send comments to the Observer or
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