Tue | Jan 31, 2023

Of poverty, progress, and prosperity

Published:Friday | July 21, 2017 | 6:10 PM


I recently had the (dis)pleasure of listening to Audley Shaw, in his capacity as keynote speaker, for the Public Life Award Luncheon at the MIND Conference 2017.

I was displeased as, aside from the inclusion of the now famous political tag line 'From Poverty to Prosperity', Minister Shaw's reference to Singapore using Jamaica's economic model irritated me. I was irritated because it seems our leaders (on both political sides) take pride in the fact that Singapore used our model to progress and rise to prosperity (puns intended).

While listening to the minister, my burning question was, "Why aren't we using our own model?" The minister quoted statistics indicating that Jamaica's per-capita income is US$5,500, while that of Singapore stands at US$55,000. Singapore, geographically, is a little smaller than the parish of St.Mary, yet it boasts a GDP 10 times greater than the country from which it borrowed an economic model. Recent statistics indicate Jamaica's GDP growth rate averaged 0.12 per cent from 1997 to 2017. In 20 years, we have not grown beyond a full per cent annually.

I would like to remind our politicians of the same points Minister Shaw raised at this year's public sector conference: 1) We are servants to our country, and should have Jamaica's best interest at heart. 2) We are responsible for the proper stewardship of our yearly budgets. 3) We cannot be wealthy as a people of we do no develop the minds of our people.

While I am no economist, it is clear that we will continue to suffer financially if we insist on importing more than we export. My prayer is that our national anthem ring true: "To our leaders, Great Defender, grant true wisdom from above."

KERRY-ANN CURTISeditsbykerryann@gmail.com