Jamaica’s problems ‘unfixable’

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has challenged the Opposition to a public debate to seek solutions for a country steeped in crisis and labelled by The Economist news magazine as “unfixable”.

Golding declared Sunday night, during a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area One Council meeting that his government now has the task of not only surviving the storm of global recession, but correcting the missteps of the last People’s National Party (PNP) government.

While the prime minister ponders the seemingly insurmountable challenges his administration faces, The Economist, a weekly United Kingdom-based news magazine focusing on international politics and business news, is painting a “gloomy picture of Jamaica”, suggesting that the country’s burden of debt and crime are “unfixable”.

“Just over two years ago, when Bruce Golding’s Labour Party came to power in Jamaica, ending 18 years in opposition, there were modest hopes that it might make progress in tackling the island’s endemic problems of economic stagnation and gang violence,” read a recent article in the magazine.

“Quite how hard that is has become clear in the past fortnight with the departure first of the central-bank governor and then the police chief.”

The article, published in the 12 November edition of the magazine, made reference to the huge debt the JLP inherited and the country’s high debt-servicing bill.

Some 60 per cent of government’s revenue goes towards servicing debt.

Outlining an even darker future, The Economist reported that “the world recession has hit tourism, bauxite and remittances from Jamaicans abroad, the island’s three big foreign-exchange earners; UC Rusal, the country’s biggest bauxite operator, has shut most of its Jamaican mines because of low world prices”.

It continued: “With tax revenue down and privatisation plans stalled, the fiscal deficit has soared.”

During his address Sunday night, Golding said the two years he has spent in power were harder than any of the 18 and a half spent by the PNP as that party never had to contend with a recession.