Returning Jamaica to its pride of place
THE EDITOR, Sir:
If Jamaica is to become a manufacturing country once again, as it was in the 1950s through to the 1960s, it has to engage investment facilitators to visit our country in order to do an evaluation as to the goods we can manufacture.
Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC Group of Countries) are enjoying their highest standard of living, and this was made possible because of foreign direct investments with stable government and a highly skilled and trained workforce. Their income per capita is among the highest in the world.
When I was a boy, Monymusk Sugar Estate used to manufacture granulated sugar for local consumption and export. Today, we import refined sugar from Brazil and other countries. There was a foundry on Darling Street in western Kingston that manufactured manhole covers and other items for domestic consumption and export. The 807 Programme thrived and produced jobs for females. The screwdriver industry saw imported components being finished into consumer durables such as television sets, refrigerators, stoves, component sets, stereograms, to name a few.
ServWel Ltd was a manufacturer of furniture items for local consumption and export to Caricom. Cariframe Ltd used to manufacture furniture for export and local consumption. Our agricultural products used to be exported to all parts of the world. Today, exports are down and remittances at one stage were the leading source of foreign exchange, followed by tourism and bauxite.
Our bauxite industry saw a downturn in demand after the formation of the Bauxite Exporting Countries. USA imported all the bauxite it could import and stockpiled it. This action crippled the bauxite industry, coupled with the heavy use of plastic.
If Jamaica is to come from the jaws of the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral lending agencies, then manufacturing and agriculture will be the way to go.
The USA economy was built primarily on agriculture, which created a need for machinery, hence the rise of the manufacturing industry along with the industrial revolution, the reformation, the renaissance in Europe.
Jamaicans are hard-working resourceful people and they prove this when they travel abroad. It is to be remembered that Lee Kuan Yew visited Jamaica in the 1960s to look at what we were doing right and took the idea and experience he gained to Singapore, which now enjoys one of the highest income per capita in the world.
If Jamaica is to return to its pride of place we must:
1. Educate our people
2. Improve our health care system
3. Return to manufacturing
4. Reduce crime and violence
What has become of our gold and oil exploration? A country's wealth is measured by its gold reserve.
Fort Knox readily comes to mind. The USRA network was built in the 1940s; however, they did not abandon the railroad service. Today's freight and passengers are moved to all parts of the country by rail - Long Island Railroad, Conrail, and Amtrak.
The Jamaican Government must offer incentive and tax holidays to woo investors to do business in Jamaica.
Joseph M. Cornwall (Sr), JP