Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Manufacturing our only hope

Published:Saturday | August 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I listened with amusement recently to manufacturer Omar Azan and economist Damien King go at it over an article Mr King wrote ('JMA pushing a Trojan horse', Sunday Gleaner, August 10, 2014) chastising the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) for asking for too many freebies from the Government.

Can we afford not to give the manufacturing sector these breaks? Every economy in the world since the dawn of the industrial revolution has developed on the basis of manufacturing. No country has developed on the basis of agriculture or tourism. The idea that Jamaica can develop on the basis of agriculture is nonsense. Agriculture, as is practised in this country, is backward, poorly thought out, and 19th century in its operation. Tourism is a fickle industry at best, and in this age of terrorism, air crashes, political instability and myriad other issues, no sensible person would base their economy on it.

Manufacturing is the best bet. Since 1972, with the exception of 1980-1989, People's National Party governments have pursued policies that have had a deleterious effect on the manufacturing sector, putting thousands out of work and closing hundreds of businesses.

The manufacturing sector is the only hope this country has to grow at rates of above 1.5 per cent. The sector is much more resilient than tourism and agriculture. Manufacturing is the basis for a lot of innovation, and technological and scientific breakthroughs that have a direct beneficial effect on humanity.

Mr King postulates that when manufacturers get breaks, the rest of the country suffers in the sense that the Government has to find more taxes from elsewhere and it robs the small businesses that will need money to develop or to start, such as barbers and hairdressers.

That may be true, but only to an extent. Why? If you have an idea to start a business and go to any of these banks, you are more likely to get turned down than if you went to get a loan to buy a car. So already the banks are averse to lending money for productive enterprises. To blame the manufacturers is just damn nonsense.

I don't have any qualifications to reach the order of an economist, but from a common man's standpoint, manufacturing is the only way to grow Jamaica. The sooner this fact is realised, the sooner this country`s leaders can devise policies that can actually help to make the manufacturing sector king. If not, Vision 2030 will remain nothing but a dream.


Black River, St Elizabeth