Articles

December, 2011

 The continued operation of all four alumnia plants in Jamaica, including even the most efficient, CAW, depends on the industry having a long-term source of competitive energy as well as resolving certain bauxite reserves issues. Two actions are necessary to achieve these objectives: Substituting oil with a cheaper fuel and making the necessary investments to accommodate the new fuel; making the necessary investments to improve the efficiency of whatever fuel is used.

 

December, 2011

 While the Government is pre-occupied with resolving the differences with the IMF to smooth the way for the release of more funds under the Standby Agreement with the Fund, there are long run problems that are in need of far more policy attention. As with previous agreements with the IMF the “tyranny of the immediate” need to meet targets continues to place on the back burner long-term policy attention to social and economic development.

March, 2011

  “It’s not an easy road”, sang Buju Banton in his 1995 hit of the same title. For small, developing countries like Jamaica, economically the road has never been easy. Since the global recession which started in 2008, the road has got even more difficult. No sector has been spared the ravages of the recession, including the three major sources of income for many Jamaicans: tourism, remittances and mining. The loss of jobs during this recession should certainly have dispelled totally any notion of a “job for life”...

March, 2011

Jamaica has passed the first three quarterly performance tests required by the 27-month Stand-By Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed in January 2010. The US$1.27-billion loan is disbursed in tranches subject to meeting the conditionalities of the Agreement. To get the loan request approved and receive the first drawdown of approximately US$610-million, the government had to take “prior actions” in the form of imposing a tax package equivalent to 2% of GDP in December 2009, completing the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX), and selling Air Jamaica, both by January 2010.

March, 2011

 The Jamaica Debt Exchange has succeeded in slowing the rate of ‘crowding out’ private sector borrowers from financial institutions as government’s demand for funds has been reduced. However, for the JDX to achieve longterm success there must be some immediate accompanying measures including stability in monetary policy; creating an efficient market for interest rate and significant reduction in the cost of financial transactions.

March, 2011

 The Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) allowed the country to reduce its debt obligation by exchanging high interest government paper for lower interest paper at longer maturities. Collectively, Jamaican taxpayers have benefited from a lower debt profile and interest savings of over US$500-million in 2010. That said, Jamaican borrowers have yet to reap the benefits of a low interest rate regime. Hence the paradox – it costs the nation less than 9% per annum to borrow money from local investors, yet borrowers continue to pay upwards of 33% to borrow money from the financial sector.

March, 2011

 Government’s proposed LNG project is fraught with too many uncertainties including source of natural gas, absence of end user take off agreements and financing arrangements. Government should not be determining the fuel source of preference; rather, policy should promote diversification of sources. And government should initiate a renegotiation of the JPS licence with a
view to opening up the national electricity grid to more energy providers.

March, 2011

 As is the case with other organisations in Jamaica, most if not all the earlier lighting, security, air conditioning, computer, and telecommunication facilities on the Mona Campus of the UWI were  not designed with energy efficiency as a major consideration. So the way forward in energy conservation and efficiency must include investment in energy efficient equipment and facilities.

March, 2011

Countries can affect their international performance based on the resources that are committed to elite sports along with specialization in the sports in which they are more competitive. But, how should resources be allocated between elite sports and sports at the national level? These decisions go beyond economics and competitiveness issues and involve broader national priorities.

 

March, 2011

 As the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaican independence approaches, it’s worth reflecting on how aspects of our cultural life, and their intense interaction with our politics, profoundly shaped our development and progress as a people.

March, 2011

 Jamaica’s highly competitive mobile phone industry plus steady growth in financial services and remittances in recent years set the stage for integration and widespread use of mobile financial services. Significant advantages include reduction in transaction costs, greater efficiency and reduced costs toconsumers. Stakeholders must address several important considerations such as regulatory regime, technical options and commercial arrangements.

June, 2010

The Jamaican Economy in a dollarised situation, using the US Dollar as the anchor currency, would adopt conditions conducive to economic stability and growth. However, fundamental change in the current arrangement may be premature at this stage.

June, 2010

Any consideration of a return to a peg by Jamaica is not an exercise in textbook abstraction nor can it be the result of a simple comparison of Jamaica and Barbados in 2010. A fuller historical comparative analysis will conclude that stronger macroeconomic results in Barbados are due to greater sustained commitment to fiscal prudence that also guaranteed the preservation of peg and parity.

June, 2010

What we are witnessing in Jamaica today is really a ‘recession within a recession.’ In the past decade Jamaica has only been able to muster a paltry 1.4 % average annual economic growth due largely to a weak macroeconomic multiplier and high levels of import in relation to GDP. Achieving higher growth rates with stability will require transforming the pool of unemployed into a productive force with an export focus; embracing innovation, quality and productivity; a renaissance of the ideas of Lewis and proponents of Plantation Economy theory; and the exploration of new ideas.

June, 2010

With the world economy showing signs of recovery in the first quarter of 2010 there are indications that the global aluminium industry is beginning to rebound. However, recovery of the Jamaican industry will lag behind world trends as the alumina plants are high-cost by global standards and so are not likely to come on stream until the global economic recovery strengthens. Hence,turnaround in the medium to long-term will depend substantially on the industry switching from oil to cheaper energy sources like coal or liquid natural gas (LNG) while achieving other operational efficiencies.