The goal of this document is to outline some REAL WORLD STRATEGIES that could be implemented, which could help turn around the Jamaican economy and make govt. see a SURPLUS in its REVENUE STREAM.
One needs to read this document with an OPEN MIND and understand that many of these ideas were actually implemented by other nations around the globe. In each recommendation, I will attempt to name the SOURCE of which the idea came from and it’s IMPACT on that particular country.
1a. Renegotiate current agreement with the IMF, by ENSURING that the country’s revenue is NOT ALL BEING CONSUMED BY SERVICING LOANS. Jamaica is currently about US$17 billion in debt. It pays about US$276 million each year on SERVICING this debt. This eats up ALL its foreign currency revenues and cripples government in it’s operations and obligations to the country’s citizens.
This is about CASH FLOW, so the GOAL of re-negotiating this IMF deal would be to have a POSITIVE CASH FLOW of US$176 million going into the govt. COFFERS and a US$100 million going to debt servicing. Then DEMAND DEBT FORGIVENESS on a certain dollar amount that the country owes on it’s OLDEST DEBTS. This would ELIMINATE the need for any more IMF loans and would STABILIZE the Jamaican currency almost overnight – even to the point of RE-VALUATION! This thinking was influenced by HUGO CHAVEZ’s moves to make his country his priority and not allow entities like the IMF to DICTATE how the country’s fiscal policies should be.
1b. Re-establish the FREE TRADE ZONE. This would make Jamaica a LOGISTICS HUB and bring in much needed re-distribution, (warehousing), and manufacturing jobs. Companies would benefit from DUTY FREE importing and re-exporting business to the region. The geographic location of the island makes this extremely viable and would complement China’s plans to build a new canal through Central America… We could ANTICIPATE this economic boom if we act now. Dubai, (part of the United Arab Emirates), gets 70% of its revenue from the logistics/re-exporting business! I saw this for myself first hand. The GOOD OL BOYS who make up the JMA, need to step aside and allow this to happen – for they seek to MAINTAIN THE MONOPOLY they have on certain markets.
1c. From this new found CASH FLOW, implement the programs listed below and IMMEDIATELY divert MORE resources to CRIME FIGHTING and BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT… Remove all RED TAPE – which currently DISCOURAGES farmers from farming. By simply holding TOWN HALL MEETINGS, you can fix this problem.
2. Assess ALL UNUSED GOVERNMENT LAND and make plans to create ORGANIC FOODS GOVERNMENT FARMS.
Establish UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICES in each Parish and get every single unemployed, able bodied person to sign up for employment on these farms. Employment can be INCENTIVE BASED, which would drive PRODUCTION and workers would receive QUARTERLY BONUSES based on each farm’s PROFITS. This program should be carefully PLANNED – to ensure that geographic location, soil and other considerations would work for the particular crop being planted. Redouble effort to increase: COCONUTS, BANANAS, COFFEE and SUGAR production. These crops should be NATIONALIZED. Coffee commands a US$46 per pound, rated amongst the BEST in the world and should NOT be owned by any private entity.
3. On some of these GOVERNMENT FARMS, increase production of CHICKENS that are both egg producing and meat producing. Utilize some modern technologies BUT keep the product ORGANIC. There is a GROWING ORGANIC FOODS demand in the US – being driven by retailers such as Whole Foods, etc. Jamaica is not taking advantage of it. Once PRODUCTION LEVELS are sufficient to meet local AND export demands, CUT IMPORTS of farm goods. Also institute a LUXURY TAX on GAS GUZZLING CARS and certain luxury goods that exceed a certain dollar amount.
4. LEGALIZE MARIJUANA and TAX IT’S EXPORT to other countries and/or grow it on govt. farms and export to states in the US that have legalized it for medical use. FACT: Revenue from illegally exported Marijuana topped JA$800 million in the 80’s. The govt. ATTEMPTED to tax the top 21 Marijuana farmers, who refuted with the argument: HOW CAN YOU TAX SOMETHING YOU HAVE DECLARED ILLEGAL? FACT: Jamaica’s Marijuana has 70% MORE THC than US Marijuana – which would command a PREMIUM PRICE. Allow the production of HEMP PRODUCTS – which could derive CONCRETE, ROPE, FABRICS, etc. The EU is already doing this. You would see a TREMENDOUS REVENUE STREAM from this one implementation.
5. Streamline the tax revenue system by modernizing it. Ensure that EVERY privately owned property is listed and that PROPERTY TAXES are being collected. Ensure that the Parishes benefit from this tax, for schools, roads, etc. and not the central govt. then establish SUBSIDIES for any parish that has a SHORTFALL in tax revenue – due to low population levels.
Once you implement ALL the above, one can easily project a SURPLUS in the Jamaican foreign exchange cash flow system of at least US$200 million for the first year. After ALL has been implemented, the govt. could see a CASH FLOW SURPLUS of US $500 in about 3 years. Income alone from marijuana and the NATIONALIZED CASH CROPS, coffee, bananas, sugar and coconuts could easily EXCEED this estimate. Income from Re-exporting and free trade zone will take longer to materialize but will also be a monster unto itself. So, it’s NOT far fetched to see Jamaica’s annual revenue stream approach the US $1billion mark in about 5 – 7 years after ALL programs are implemented.
– Patrick Valentine.
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