In the overall mix of Global economic woes; Jamaica’s short-term economic recovery prospects looks great with the recent approval of US$ 100 million (J$ 8 billion) Sustainability Development Policy loan from the World Bank, to help in Jamaica’s fiscal management, and Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s billion dollar Stimulus Package. One must applaud Finance Minister Audley Shaw and all involved in getting this loan. It comes at a time when the sector was hurting and is able to appreciate a financial injection of funds; one has to beg the question of what about all the criticisms that have been leveled at the World Bank? Anecdotally, there have been criticisms that the World Bank loans always comes with “Strings Attached”. It just seems to be a never ending cycle for Jamaica; constant borrowing with high interest rates; if the government is unable to meet its obligation to the World Bank; they must borrow again; at the expense of the general public.
This is just my opinion. I am not an Accountant or an Economist so I can only speak as a layman, and I could be wrong. What really interests me at this time, is the billion dollars Stimulus Package that took effect on January 1st.Looking at what it proposed to cover in its attempt to stimulate the economy; one can’t help but notice that the micro-communities and mainstream Jamaicans will not benefit directly from this package. It is not clear what impact this package will have on the unemployed and non-productive Jamaicans. There will be tax cuts for the Tourism sector and cash to aid their cash flow problems; money for the productive sector and locally owned companies; reduction in property taxes, and help for small businesses and the manufacturing sector. In order to get a handle and truly stimulate the economy more needs to be done for mainstream Jamaicans.
The government is not a Messiah, ‘some may say’, but if it is seeking to boost confidence among Jamaicans, then they need to create more jobs and get people out into the workforce. Understanding that the Stimulus Package is intended to jumpstart the economy in the short-term; we have to now look at the economy in the long-term in an attempt to capitalize to the $150 billion U.S. dollars that President Obama promises to spend over 10 years to create 5 million green-collar jobs. The potential for green jobs are increasing or rather, has increased with the election of President Obama. Let us put our people to work, or at least give them the training and create or add to the green jobs that we currently have, so that they can be more marketable. Who Knows? Overtime there will be alternate power and alternate fuels to a larger extent, and environmentally we need greater emphasis on eco- friendly jobs.
We need greater energy efficiency and more focus placed on things like solar energy. This will help the Industrial Sector. It is my opinion and I strongly believe that if it is not already being done; we should start training some of our school graduates on how to make and install solar power systems.They can also build a career professionally in retrofitting and turbines, and the list goes on. This area has so much potential. Many adults are looking to change careers and I believe that if these jobs were created; they would help the economy enormously. I also believe that the government should look at broadening the high school curriculum so that students get a chance to choose their career paths early. They should be able to choose their career paths from various roadmaps which should include green training, which could lead to green jobs. Not everyone will be doctors, lawyers, engineers and so forth. Not everyone will attend a tertiary institution. It is important that we give our high school graduates the tools to compete in the work environment, not just focus on the amount of subjects they passed. The subjects are important because it shows a student’s ability, but if those students just want to leave high school and start working, then they need to be prepared so that they can effectively compete in the workforce. I believe that high schools should have training roadmaps incorporated into the curriculum. It should be expanded so thagt students gets an opportunity as well as the option to specialize in a career field that includes green training such as water retrofits, which increases water efficiency; solar installation; recycling and reuse; hazardous materials clean-up; tree cutting and pruning and car and truck mechanics etc. I do not believe that they should have to go to a trade school after they graduate. Money is tight,so give them an option from third form to choose their career paths. Protection of the environment will open up many opportunities, both at home and abroad. We must do our part as citizens and parents, to help our children become more eco-friendly at home, and overtime, they may decide to choose career path that leads to green jobs which will help to not only stimulate the economy, but will help to preserve our economy and make it cleaner for all.