Improving Jamaica

Members of the social partnership.
Members of the social partnership.

KINGSTON — In the next three years, the framers of the Social Partnership Agreement, signed at King’s House last week, are expecting to realise a reduction in the country’s murder rate, its debt-to-GDP ratio, unemployment, and the average cost of energy.

They also intend for there to be an attendant improvement of the country’s GDP growth rate and its ease of doing business ranking.

In specific terms, by 2016 murders should drop from the current 38 per 100,000 to 25 per 100,000; the debt-to-GDP ratio should go from 142 per cent, where it now stands, to 105 per cent; unemployment should go from 14.2 per cent to 10 per cent, while the average cost of energy should move from US$0.42/kwh to US$0.30/kwh.

By then, too, real GDP growth rate should be between two and three per cent and the country should rank 75th of 185 on the World Bank’s Doing Business list. GDP is currently at 0.3 per cent, while Jamaica is 90th on the ease of doing business scale.

The agreement, titled Partnership for Jamaica, was inked by government, trade unions, the private sector, and civil society. The opposition, while having representation on the partnership council, declined to sign the document.

Members of the council acknowledge that these are ambitious targets, but argue that once there is buy-in from the wider Jamaica they are attainable.

“I believe this is an ambitious agenda, but we believe that the circumstances are as good as they have ever been for us to join together as a country and we feel that we need ambitious targets,” Professor Alvin Wint told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Wint, an academia representative on the National Partnership Council, added that though the goals seem lofty, there is indication already that they are achievable.

“The [targeted] reduction is not inconsistent with what we’ve seen,” he said, making reference to a one-third decline in the country’s murder rate over the last three years.

Also on the subject of the murder rate, Wint used the example of Mauritius, located off Africa’s southeast coast, where he said the incidence was two per 100,000 population. (Observer)

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