Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Jamaica can't borrow its way to prosperity

Published:Friday | June 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Pertinent questions have been raised about Jamaica's current economic state and why Government cannot even afford to pay decent wages to public servants. The reason is quite simple: We are heavily indebted and at the mercy of our lenders.

We import everything from refined sugar to packaged juices. Sometime ago, there was a startling article in the media about the massive amount Jamaicans spend each year on artificial hair - for instance, US$7 million in 2012, as much as seven to 14 times the rest of the Caribbean!

Of course, we live in a free market, but heavy demand on scarce US dollars will devalue our own Jamaican currency even more, forcing all prices upwards.

Our country relies heavily on remittances from Jamaicans abroad and from earnings in tourism and other industries, but our earnings alone cannot support our needs and lifestyles. Our culture is such that if we want something, we must have it - no matter what.

Until we address this cultural problem of excess through effective public relations to try to contain our penchant for excess and reassess our priorities, we will always have a

serious economic problem.

Until we can better manage our imports, there will be a vicious cycle, and Jamaica will get poorer and poorer, forever borrowing to repay its massive and growing debt, with less to spend on critical services such as health, education, social services.