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Recommendations Jamaica And Other Developing Countries Can Use To Accelerate Their Growth

Updated on September 13, 2017
Angelo Grant profile image

"Out of Many One People." The one-love-Jamaican Patriot is an idealist that is hopeful for a better world for all people.

Developing Countries Like Jamaica Have To Face Reality

Countries such as Jamaica first need to understand their priorities, the School-to-Work Transition Survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) in 2013 indicates that of the total labor force only 20% are professionals i.e. careers that might demand a four-year degree yet over 60% of the country's aspiring youth would like to become professionals. Many countries are guilty of creating a crisis of perception and until it is corrected decent and satisfactory employment will continue to be an elusive goal for the youth of those countries. It is amoral that we exalt, embellish and even perjure ourselves about the value of college degrees and adorn this achievement with an unsubstantiated measure of success while casting a shadow on the skillful multi-talented men and women employed to trades that create more net worth.

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It is absolutely necessary to confront and correct this perception about the value of higher learning to society. If developing countries continue to direct waves of students towards tertiary certification even though their workforce is already suffering from over qualification then the frustration of scholars in menial jobs is going to hit full throttle. It is a matter of supply and demand; there are simply not enough demand for professionals to support this trend.

Many countries including developed ones must abandon this push for more students to enter college and empower them instead with the skills the country needs and give them the recognition that they deserve. Encourage skills learning certificates that get youths quickly into the workforce and push up their purchasing power without weighing them down with unnecessary debt from a lenghty tertiary study. Skills based certificates are an attractive solution to increase the value of post-secondary education. If the soft economy of a developing country cannot employ the skillful then they are also equipped to start their own ventures. College, on the other hand, seems to be a closed circuit where creativity is suppressed, critical thinking is lost to the system and commonality gains the victory.

Customizing Structured Education To Fit the Country's Needs is Also Essential

It is vital that educational resources become much more open source in such a way that popular rules, laws, thesis, and philosophies being taught be contested, debated, enhanced and examined from multiple perspectives. There is a lot of information out there that is regarded as standard but needs to be debunked. People have been wired to think one way about topics like globalization, specialization, capitalism, and communism and then countries try to fit themselves into these understandings instead of inventing unique solutions for their unique problems. Each country has unique needs and unique resources by which to accomplish growth.

Developing countries such as Jamaica need to become more fluid thinking. Jamaica, for example, validates and benchmarks everything the country does against American and European standards. But if they are to take charge of their identity and shape their nation into a reality the people of that country deserve then they have to become writers of their history, incharge of their future and hopeful in their dreams.

Imagine if the universities became incubators for innovation and nurtured ideas from conception to the point of commercialization. Imagine if the University of the West Indies was to research and develop revolutionary diet pills and learning aids. Imagine if the University of Technology was to develop building materials that produced hurricane proof structures without the need for steel, or develop materials that significantly reduced the temperature in dwelling places. Imagine if the College of Agriculture, Science, and Education was to research and develop methods of exponentially increasing the yield of crops. If these mile stones were achieved then the nations biggest conglomerates would increase their operations and invest heavily at domestically. Moves like these would catapult a developing nation into the 21st century.

Jamaica would become a central hub for talent, investment, manufacturing, services, and logistics if it puts the brakes on the containment lectures and leads the way through investments in research at the university level. The rope the country needs to pull it out of the hole should come from hemp because marijuana they can grow but nylon is out of their reach. The decriminalization of marijuana in that country should mean the commercialization its various products is a nearby expectation.

Solving Jamaica's Less Than Unique Problems: Corruption, Poverty and Crime

Jamaica needs to execute plans that will eradicate corruption, provide accountability, reduce the national debt, and create wealth and employment opportunities. Ending wasteful use of resources, increasing productivity and reallocating resources to optimize output will get systems working in peak pursuit of growth.

Level The Playing Field

1st Step: Balance Trade and Consolidate Government

Jamaica's trading partners have a punishing 78% advantage when it comes to imports versus exports. Close the gap on the trade deficit by increasing the tariffs and the luxury tax on all products made outside Jamaica that is not needed for industry or agriculture. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes is 27% cheaper in Jamaica than the United States where Malboro is made. This is a troubling statistic because imported products like cigarettes compete with national brands who maintain their operations in the country and have a significant economic impact.

Reduce or remove the General Consumption Tax (GCT) from products manufactured in Jamaica. Once the country successfully pushes back on imports and unbalanced concessions to foreign companies, then extend an invitation to current merchants and trading partners to setup posts in Jamaica and become fully integrated into the local economy.

Many simple goods like bananas and coconuts are being sourced outside of the country. This lack of food security leaves the Jamaican economy at the mercy of those countries that have taken advantage of globalization. It is absolutely imperative to discourage these imports, doing so will revive home grown products and protect the longevity Jamaican brands. Prosperity lies in the country's own potential to become very efficient at producing the items within its capacity.

Jamaica can do more to close the gap on trade by looking throughout the economy for opportunities to find cost-savings by increasing efficiency and getting rid of redundancies. The two license plates on motor vehicles is an example. One is sufficient. The country’s debt burden becomes greater each time the Jamaican dollar slides, therefore, the Government of Jamaica must do everything it can to cut into the principal and avoid future debt.

Jamaica, as well as any other country in the position to do so, should utilize technology to get around the need for the exchange of coins, change, petty cash and eventually all cash transactions. It cost more to mint coins than they are worth. A cashless economy also benefits the economy by increasing transparency and accountability. Speaking of accountability, Jamaica needs to consolidate the number of consulates, missions, and embassies the country operates around the world. Does the presence or absence of a Jamaican embassy in Kuwait have a net effect on the society? It is shocking to find out that it takes 24 government agencies to service the transportation industry on this small island whereas it takes Dubai which is a major logistics hub a grand total of 7 agencies.

Politics is an international game of power and just like any other game you need a great coach to raise your level of proficiency. If the aim is to become a developed country then hire the help of politicians that have the wisdom of playing at that level.

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Making The Case For The Reduced Workweek

2nd: Reduce Unemployment and Create Jobs

The weak jobs growth and high unemployment rate need immediate attention. Jamaica should attack this problem from two angles.

  • Encourage emigration of unskilled and some skilled citizens by lobbying developed international partners for contracts to supply their guest worker needs and seek policy changes that give Jamaican emigrants more access. The intent here is to quickly reduce the number of people in the market seeking jobs that the country cannot create. Remittance provides as much contribution to the GDP as Jamaica's largest industry which is currently tourism. The diaspora also provides a tremendous amount of support to every industry in Jamaica, creating access to foreign markets by purchasing products, giving volume to the music aboard and providing word of mouth advertisement the friendly destinations. By pledging support to emigration the government can exponentially increase remittances and bolster every sector of the economy.
  • Create jobs locally by converting full time jobs into part time 30 hours per week jobs therefore, for every three current full time job converted; one new job is added. This project would incorporate more Jamaicans into a formal workforce, increase cash flow and cause spending and consumer confidence to rise. Thus, an increased economic stimulus is realized with the same amount in payroll all while increasing productivity and the number of skilled and experienced individuals available to the workforce.

On a side note: teachers, police, and other civil servants should not have such well-titled jobs yet experience such high levels of vulnerability - struggling to provide for their most basic needs. The increased productivity and the growth of a skilled work force should commensurate with these contributors earning more. Another option that would push overall wages up is to designate full-time status as a 30 Hours work week. That means someone working 40 hours in this system would be paid 10 hours of overtime.

The Purpose of Government

The Business of Government and the Common Good

Governments of developing countries must adopt a business outlook or enterprise philosophy, seeking to become a self-funded and profitable entity using every asset in its command to make each ministry independently responsible for financing their own portfolio. Below are some examples of how enterprise thinking can turn things around. Jamaica, a cash strapped nation currently holds nearly a 20% stake in the country's electric company but a better option of demonstrating both sound financial and social responsibility would be to convert those company shares into a Co-operative. Turning the Jamaica Public Service Company customers into member-owned would provide accountability, a focus on the common good and quite possibly lower prices by eliminating waste, greed, and corruption.

Jamaica, a cash strapped nation currently holds nearly a 20% stake in the country's electric company but a better option of demonstrating both sound financial and social responsibility would be to convert those company shares into a Co-operative. Turning the Jamaica Public Service Company customers into member-owned would provide accountability, a focus on the common good and quite possibly lower prices by eliminating waste, greed, and corruption.

High and rising crime rate continues to tarnish Jamaica's reputation in the international community. They can change this disposition if they reduce crime through the decriminalization of certain activities and focus resources on ridding the country of felony crimes that threaten life and property. And when they pile the convicts behind bars, don’t just seek rehabilitation for them but seek to rehabilitate the families and communities their actions have damaged. Enroll convicts in a prison work program that puts them to work restoring farms and caring for streets. Through a prison work system that pays convicts a taxable wage for the hard labor, rebuild the industries lost to the current service dependent economy. The government should turn over the bulk of its crown lands for planned agricultural and industrial development in support of this enterprise.

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