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Letter of the day: Jamaica must live within its means

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM


There is an ongoing wage debate between trade unions and the Government. I am very much aware of the struggles and crises facing the Jamaican people, but trade union representatives must be realistic, especially because of the hard global economic climate affecting the world on a whole.

Prior to the Simpson Miller administration, we had a failed International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal that exacerbated our economic crisis. I am yet to see a success story of the IMF and highly hope Jamaica will be the first.

In July 1991, former Barbadian prime minister, Erskine Sandiford, met with representatives of the trade union and the private sector. He highlighted to them that "Barbados was in [the] throes of an unprecedented economic crisis and the government was in discussion with the IMF".

In order to restore hope to the Barbadian economy, Prime Minister Sandiford cut public-sector wages by eight per cent and laid off 2,000 workers. Fast-forward to 2014, the Freundel Stuart administration has already cut approximately 5,000 public-sector jobs in order to cut public expenditure.

Over the years, Jamaica has been living above its means. It is for this same reason we are in a perpetual state of debt and borrowing. If Jamaica had a Freundel Stuart, we would have seen a continuous number of our public servants going home.

I am less supportive with the policy to cut public workers. I prefer a cut in salaries so that workers can keep their jobs than to raise salaries, which have more negative consequences for the economy.

On that note, if the trade union representatives love Jamaica, they should accept the small increase and give thanks we do not have a Stuart or Sandiford who represent the harsher neo-liberal policy of cutting government expenditure.

Jamaica must live within its means.


PhD Candidate