It is not an occasion for cork-popping, but for sober reflection. For there is still a tough road ahead.
Nonetheless, Friday's announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiators that they had concluded a draft agreement with the Jamaican Government is a good sign for the island's economy. Except for a major stumble on our part, it is almost foregone that the Fund's board will approve the agreement in March.
The effect of that will be to free the first tranche of the US$750 million the IMF will lend Jamaica under the four-year programme as well as reopen to us other multilateral institutions that turned off their financial spigots when our previous Fund agreement collapsed in 2010. This inflow of foreign exchange, which will help to rebuild the central bank reserves, should ease pressure on the Jamaican dollar as well as help to moderate inflation in this import-dependent economy.
The deal should also help to begin a revival of weak business confidence we spawned by the long time it took to conclude this deal and the sense of uncertainty that pervaded the economy.
It is important, however, that Jamaicans bear in mind that an agreement with the IMF is not an end in itself. We are merely at the start of a process.
In that regard, it is important to hold to the fore what it is that got us here and the price to be paid to extricate ourselves from this mess.
The grim fact is that we managed our affairs imprudently. In particular, we borrowed too much and didn't invest wisely. The upshot is an unmanageable debt. That is the fundamental reason for the Government's restructuring - with pain to savers and pensioners - of the domestic debt as one precondition for the deal. The Government has also had to impose a major tax package and 'negotiate' a wage freeze with its employees.
Should these arrangements falter, the deal with the IMF will unravel. We hope that this is not the case. For as unpalatable as these undertakings are, the heavy lifting towards recovery is only at a start.
The Government has a major job ahead, about which it has talked much but has not done enough of an aggressive overhaul of the public sector to enhance its efficiency and to be more facilitatory of enterprise. That could mean the realignment and/or elimination of agencies and jobs.
The tax system has to be restructured to widen its base, ease the burden on the few, and reduce the stress on people wanting to fulfil their tax obligations. The process has to be simplified. Civil servants must also be made to contribute more to their pensions, and the age of retirement increased to reduce this long-term, unfunded pension liability being carried by the State.
These are not the kinds of things from which popularity quickly flows to governments and political parties. But they are the right things to do if Jamaica is to have a shot of giving its people, in time, the quality of life they deserve and at clawing back the independence it forfeited to the IMF and other creditors.
These are prizes for which we believe Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller should be willing to fight.
The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.