With the country's debt burden reaching an all-time high of JA$1.7 trillion; productivity in the country in consistent decline since the 1970s; and 13 International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes over a 40-year relationship with the IMF, chief executive officer at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Dennis Chung, says having the right approach to economic reform under the country's current IMF programme is even more critical today.
According to Chung, there is a clear need for transformation that has to be managed well, in order to be effective, minimise fall-out to the country, and reduce the Government's welfare role.
Chung was speaking at a recent meeting of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, on the topic: 'Jamaica's Economy, Issues and Perspective'.
He said that the recipe for economic transformation includes political commitment to long-term development rather than political expediency and private-sector development, including embracing good work practices and making the policy changes that encourage development in this area.
"If we want to see growth and fiscal sustainability, we must commit to making the micro small and medium enterprise sector vibrant," he said.
Chung also emphasised the need for enforcement of law and changes to the structural elements, which prevent economic transformation.
"We must tackle inefficient bureaucracies and high energy costs, engage in tax reform, and obtain law and order. If you look at New York, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's zero-tolerance approach and commitment to do what is necessary to make the justice system efficient, are we willing to do that? This is the sacrifice to get to heaven," Chung said.
He compared the Jamaican stock exchange, where the listings have remained largely the same, to the United States', where many large companies have been born over the last few years.
"To improve the standard of living for our people, we must address education and the creation of opportunities. Just like getting to heaven, there is a clearly defined path to economic growth and development, and if we want to go there, then we must do what is necessary," Chung said.