Tue | Feb 9, 2016

LETTER OF THE DAY - Self-reliance message lost

Published:Tuesday | September 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM


History will be the judge on whether Michael Manley was the 'most visionary and transformational leader' Jamaica has had. The fact that there was such social chasm and upheaval is evidence that something very significant had taken place in the minds of Jamaicans. It centred around Michael Manley's vision of how Jamaica could become self-reliant and eventually prosper.

One idea of import substitution would have been well developed now, 40 years after an attempt by the then leader of the country. Probably we would have grown more rice, developed the taste for and use of more yam, cassava and banana, as well as our manufacturing capability. We could be more advanced in our ideas of how to forwardly integrate the experience with the raw material produced in other forms.

Now, we convert local currency to be able to increase the import bill. We are slowing commerce, because we are awaiting approval for more US dollars to be put in the system to continue with more of the same.

We continually talk about making Jamaica better, but we are not doing things differently, for example, on the economy. We continually look to government to stimulate the economy, while in the same breath we believe that private enterprise is the driving force of the economy.

If we continue to highlight negatives, we will live in despair. We should be more solution oriented. Stop looking for a 'busha' to do something 'fi wi'. Live more with vision and hope.

Instead of verandah politicking, highlighting past failures and reopening wounds of the negative events that occurred, we should be putting our energies into ways of putting investment into substituting or creating whatever Jamaica now brings from abroad, particularly in agriculture.

More of our children should be encouraged to get an education, not to just 'get a job' or migrate, but to think more of 'what I can create' or 'what kind of service I can provide', and thereby make a living.

This is only one step in Jamaica being able to employ more of our citizens. It is logical, but who has the political will to tell any 'free' Jamaican that he/she would have to pay a higher tax for what Jamaica imports, which could be produced here? Who can tell Jamaicans that we need to change our ways of living the 'champagne taste with soda pockets'?

There would be a stir locally and probably from overseas suppliers. I am certain people would speak of 'socialism' again, in the same way critics currently label the current president of the United States.