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Jamaica's future - time will tell

Published:Monday | January 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

As I listened to the prime minister's quite pragmatic speech last week, I began to see a new light. I listened to a plan for a stronger step in the right direction - a direction which has been avoided for two decades. I could now begin to envisage a brighter future, a future to be distinguished from what is at times described as the 'doom and gloom' being faced by the present Jamaica.

I commend the Government for living up to the words of its leader, who declared that "leadership that strives for popularity is not what the country needs at this time", but leadership that is about "securing the country's future".

The questions flashing through my mind were many:

Are some long-needed austerity measures now going to be pursued? Is another downgrade to be received by the rating agencies? Are the holders of government instruments willing to share the burden in the name of patriotism and love for one's country?

Only time will tell whether the debt-swapping programme will be a success - a necessary move in order to secure approval for a US$1.25-billion standby loan from the International Monetary Fund for balance-of-payment support. This would lead to the opening of the doors to other multilateral lending agencies - lending funds with interest rates of between one and five per cent arrangements which were ridiculed by the Opposition before its actualisation.

Reduced interest rates?

Only time will tell whether this can be used to stabilise the exchange rate and, being paired with the debt-management pro-gramme, result in a reduction in interest rates and save Jamaica some $40 billion annually in local debt interest payments (the debt which has the heavier burden on the Budget because of its interest cost).

He also reiterated that improved public-sector management and efficiency will be pursued.

Will all the aforementioned goals be achieved while the spending on education and social programmes increase?

Will there be a reversal in the continuous, increasing Budget deficit/debt spiral experienced by Jamaica, which had to borrow for years in order to close same?

Will all of this be possible without further taxation for the next Budget, except for a restructuring of property tax and review of some unrealistic/outdated user fees?

Will all these conditions lead to making Jamaica a country inviting and attractive to investors?

Will these conditions serve as an incentive for the micro-, small- and medium-size business industry to thrive and, through production, provide employment and stimulate growth?

Alumina industry

I heard the prime minister speak to production vis-à-vis the necessary recovery of the alumina industry.

Will these hopes be realised? Only time will tell.

Will the multibillion US dollar Harmony Cove project be beneficial and casino gaming serve as an income earner and an addition to Jamaica's tourism package?

Will all the medium-term economic plans be arrived at to once again bring Jamaica on par with its regional neighbours and to the world-class level in the long run?

Will Jamaica land we love transform into a dream Jamaica?

Time should test the Jamaica Labour Party's competence and ability to manage the country and I laud the prime minister for making it clear that he will pursue this course for success as he adheres to obligations, responsibilities and accountability - through rigid performance testing to be effected for the "exciting future".

Will this Government save the day for Jamaica?

Only time will tell.

I am, etc.,



Kingston 8

Will this Government save the day for Jamaica?

Only time will tell.