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Editors' Forum | Keep the dollar here to fuel stronger economic growth

Published:Saturday | March 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

International Human rights and environmental attorney-at-law Jodi-Ann Quarrie has said Government should pursue a strategic overhaul of the tourism product to make it possible to retain much more of the foreign exchange, denominated in United States (US) dollars, earned from the sector.

She pointed out that failure to do so could significantly affect the long-term trajectory of Jamaica's economic growth prospects and the trickle-down effect it could have on the "small man".

"Retaining the dollar, having it banked and circulating in the country, is the best way to gauge how successful tourism has been. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are seeing large swaths of earned US dollars being expatriated," Quarrie stated during an Editors' Forum held recently at the Gleaner's North Street offices in downtown Kingston.

"If these monies were being retained, it would, no doubt, redound tangibly to the overall benefit of the entire sector, including its workers," she reasoned.

Quarrie was among a number of key sector players to take part in the forum titled 'Jamaica Under Labour', which reviewed the performance of the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party since it assumed governance of the country in 2016.

She argued that the reluctance to break from the all-inclusive model, although successful throughout the years, will further damage prospects for the retention of the US dollar and stronger economic performance.

"Jamaica started off, and continues, on an all-inclusive model that prioritises small jobs for Jamaicans and larger jobs for imported labourers," she said, "which means there is always going to be a flight in the dollar, while the lives of the locals, who work as housemaids and gardeners, are never being improved".


Deleterious effect of Cuban tourism


Attorney-at-law Jodi-Ann Quarrie has pointed to the likely deleterious effect of Cuba's expanding tourism industry on Jamaica's market share in the Caribbean. "Cuba is slowly opening up, and they are new, exciting, and never before seen. There is history and culture and there is language - a lot that Jamaica cannot offer," she noted.

"Furthermore, we do not differentiate ourselves from our Caribbean counterparts," Quarrie said. "What Jamaica offers, Barbados offers, except that Barbados does it with far less crime; and what Jamaica offers, St Lucia offers, but they offer it with exquisite mountain views that are accessible and high-end luxury hotels that we have enough of here. So we cannot continue to say that tourism is our end all because we do not have that sort of product that will carry us into the future."