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Jamaicans despair over sliding dollar

KINGSTON — With the exchange rate expected to reach the dreaded J$100 to US$1 mark this week, consumers who have over the past few years done their fair share of belt tightening will be forced to buckle up even further and continue to hold strain.

Those consumers’ dilemma results from the continued dwindling effect the sliding dollar is having on their ability to purchase goods and services.

Already the mumbling at cashier counters in supermarkets in the Corporate Area have become more pronounced.

Upset and outraged over the amount of money they have had to fork out for basic necessities, even religious zealots who scope out supermarkets to spread the “good news” have been changing the tone of their message in keeping with the times.

“Jesus warned of condition like this. That was the reason why He said we should pray for our daily bread. It was only under the rule of (King) Solomon that everybody was satisfied,” one Jehovah’s Witness shared with a consumer outside one supermarket The Gleaner visited in the Corporate Area recently.

Verbal attacks directed at politicians for their management of the economy over successive decades were common on the lips of several persons who emerged from the supermarket in the early afternoon.

With plastic bags in hand, one shopper, who asked not to be named, was obviously not in a good mood after realising that she spent more than she bargained for.

“Three thousand-odd dollars and mi nuh get half a weh mi want yet,” the Seaview Gardens resident lamented. “Mi did waan three sardines and a only one mi could afford. You nuh see seh the country mash up?”

The elderly woman reflected on a time when she was able to take J$40 to any supermarket and take home “one box a grocery with chicken and everything”.

Those days, she recalled, were in the 1980s and during that period trading of the Jamaican currency did not escalate beyond the J$6.50 to US$1 mark, according to information gleaned from the Bank of Jamaica website which documents the history of the exchange rate.

“That time mi used to do domestic work in Havendale (St. Andrew) and every weekend mi would buy grocery fi carry go give mi children dem down di country (Clarendon),” she said. (Gleaner)

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