Budget is more than a number

Published: Friday | November 30, 2012 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I believe many of us do not comprehend the enormity of Jamaica's debt problem. The reported amount of our national debt at J$1.68 trillion is simply a number which just rolls of the tongue.

However, J$1.68 trillion is J$1.68 million million. If we assume an average interest rate on Government's borrowings of 6.0 per cent per annum, interest alone, excluding repayment of principal, amounts to J$96 billion per year. Again, this is just a number, with its enormity perhaps not really comprehended.

If my numbers are anywhere near accurate, the interest on government debt amounts to J$263 million per day, or J$11 million per hour. So, the cost of the vehicles recently purchased for government ministers and which have been the subject of some controversy is equivalent to six hours of interest payments on our national debt. Six hours!

By my rough calculation, Jamaica could, for example, annually develop new four-star hotels with the equivalent of 4,200 rooms employing 8,000 persons directly if this debt burden did not exist. We could provide a first-class education with top-notch facilities for all our children and lay a real foundation for growth.

It's time we got serious and did something about it, because that light in the tunnel is heading faster and faster in our direction, and we're not preparing for it.

JEREMY BROWN

jeremybrown@implementation ltd.com

Kingston 6

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