By Paul Gyles, Guest columnist
Jamaica, like many emerging economies, is faced with social, political and economic crises that are threatening the stability of the country. Many individuals are recommending the economic model of Singapore, Canada, the United States of America, and other developed economies.
The recommendations for growth, as evidenced in these countries, should be embraced, but a deliberate approach in looking at our strengths and weaknesses, along with examining the decisions that are working, should be done. We should examine the recommendations for growth critically and focus on the strength within the economy and follow the decisions that are workable.
In order to prevent further slippage in the economic possibilities, the Government needs to halt any form of economic deterioration. Amid the crisis, Jamaica needs to focus on the strength of the tourism and agricultural sector and use these areas as a platform to stimulate meaningful growth in the economy.
At present, there is disturbance growing in the sugar industry. The Government needs to intervene using a balanced investigative team with members from the public and private sector to settle this disturbance. Jamaica needs the Chinese investors, and the rights and opportunities of the working-class population should be protected. This intervention will help to normalise productivity in this area.
The Government needs to solicit a list of agricultural producers along with their products. The Government, through JAMPRO, should secure markets locally and abroad to promote the sale of their products. At present, many agricultural producers are faced with challenges such as theft and a lack of markets for their products.
Agriculturists need to get the appropriate public-sector support to maximise production and economic benefits. The problem of theft should be dealt a severe blow by implementing firmer penalties that will deter individuals from choosing that unlawful option. By getting sales for products locally and overseas, individuals involved in agriculture will be encouraged.
Incentives should be offered along with low-priced government-leased lands to attract individuals who are desirous of going into agricultural production. This thrust will help significantly in encouraging and stimulating productivity.
In the area of tourism, the Government should build at least 10-15 shops and offices on the waterfront as part of building downtown Kingston's infrastructure. The shops and offices should offer financial, food and clothing services. An area should be made for relaxation.
This will be a strong stimulus to provide employment and services to attract members of the society to do business. This should be supported by tour boats offering rides (half an hour to one hour) on the harbour for sightseeing. A security post should be placed at the waterfront to ensure the safety and security of nationals and visitors. This would be a good tourist initiative that will put individuals to work and attract funds from visitors and Jamaican nationals.
In an effort to serve the tourism sector, three recreational parks should be established across west, east and central Jamaica. These parks should have selling areas having Jamaican foods and delicacies. The delicious fruits of Jamaica should be on display for sale to attract visitors to our unique culture. Our music made of religious, cultural and other forms should be on display. Football competitions should be arranged on miniature playing fields (six on each side).
There should be live entertainment to capture the attention of visitors. A section should be set up for drama and theatrical performances. This set-up should capture the hearts of tourists and provide financial gain to the country.
These are short-term projects that can be implemented to stimulate productivity within the country. These recommendations may seem simple, but Jamaica needs to get back to the basics and use the natural things that God has blessed this country with to maximise the benefits.
Jamaica needs to utilise agriculture and tourism, which are our strengths, to boost productivity and assist in lifting us out of our financial, social and political crises.
Professor Paul Gyles is associate vice-president of academic administration, graduate studies and research, Northern Caribbean University. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.