Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Cut red tape, boost business

Published:Wednesday | February 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM

At the end of trading on Monday, February 2, 2015, it took J$115.78 to purchase US$1, compared to J$107.79 a year ago and J$61.87 ten years ago. The Jamaican dollar has depreciated by $53.91 in the last 10 years. This fact, by itself, should trigger the alarm bells, and quite frankly, it has.

But within this 10-year period, we faced some harsh economic realities, one of which is an overvalued currency in a low-growth economy.

The devaluation of the Jamaican dollar became a necessary evil, as we need to know the true value of our currency in order to move forward. The most vulnerable in our society are, of course, feeling the pinch from increased prices, low wages, underemployment, etc. It is incumbent on Government to provide the necessary social protection, at least in the short term.

But if one looks closely at the numbers, we are not faring as bad as it could have been. Inflation is still in single digit and projected to decrease even more. We continue to boast high net international reserves. The rate of depreciation of the dollar is slower (5.3% for fiscal year ending January 20, 2015, 8.1% for previous period).

Although youth unemployment remains high, general unemployment is at an acceptable level, considering all other things. The current account deficit has narrowed dramatically. As such, there will be less demand for

foreign exchange.

It is now time for the Government to advance plans and policies directed at achieving economic growth, as its absence will put us back in the same position we were in. We need to travel this road once and never again. We need to improve the efficiency of the public sector, reduce red tape attached to doing business in Jamaica, reduce public waste, and improve governance.



Brompton, St. Elizabeth