Executive Director, Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI)
Jamaica’s economic history is somewhat of a paradox. An observer of economic development in the middle of the last century would have expected Jamaica to become a high-flying economy in the subsequent half-century. However, despite a decent spurt of economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, the Jamaican economy has virtually stagnated since then. We can identify other headline-making episodes of developing countries doing badly; however, when we look at the entire 50 years in economic growth terms, Jamaica is one of the worst performing economies in the entire world. This flatlining is a paradox given all the development advantages that Jamaica seemed to have. Notwithstanding this performance, we did not see the government demonstrating either sufficient understanding of the economic problem or the political courage to take action. Five years ago, however, Jamaica started to make a number of important moves, starting with fiscal consolidation and balancing the budget in a single year. That was followed by other reforms, such as the passage of fiscal responsibility legislation, the passage of incentive legislation, improvements in the ease of doing business, investing in economic infrastructure, amongst others. Taken together, it has been an impressive five-year run of policy reforms.
CEO & Managing Director, Strategic Konnections and Management Services Ltd.
Jamaica continues to improve the overall macroeconomic program as is evidenced by the successful IMF program where the county has been meeting the targeted objectives. As a result of this positive favorable position that the country has moved to, international investors are more drawn to Jamaica. Additionally, international prospects feel more comfortable that the country is on a staler footing and as the economic situation continues to improve, we are likely to see continued growing interest in international businesses wanting to invest more in Jamaica. Of note are the BPO businesses that have set sights on Jamaica and are on a roll and our tourism sector, which has also benefited significantly from new opportunities with new resorts such as New Excellence Oyster Bay in Montego Bay, New Karisma Hotel in St. Ann, and plans for the new H10 in Trelawny as a part of the greater thrust and penetration in the tourism market. The positive growth being experienced in the Jamaican economy has resulted in the emergence of new businesses and investors are showing more interest in investing in Jamaica. As such, there is definitely an increased interest in hiring consultants trained in the areas that are in demand.
Principal & Executive Vice President, Glen F. Garth
Our goal is to close the 2019 year with some level of formal commitment to invest in Jamaica from at least three serious international investors. I feel especially confident about waste-to-energy projects, novel technologies, and their associated local product manufacturing interests, as well as the significant potential of pharmaceutical and medical device equipment opportunities. Additionally, some presenting interests have the potential to locally manufacture more sustainable solutions and supply local/regional demand for necessary commodities, such as concrete and steel rebar, which must currently be imported to Jamaica. Imagine the greater macroeconomic impact such projects could yield for the job market, the local environment, and Jamaica’s foreign exchange burn. Let’s also consider the positive impact these projects could have on the overall Jamaican GDP, an integral need affirmed by the most recent IMF update. Meaningful investment opportunities available on the island remain abundant as Jamaica marches toward sustainable growth. The crucial variables to see these initiatives realized include more purposeful global awareness, more efficient local project facilitation, and a properly trained Jamaican workforce that is equipped with the resources to make it happen.
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