Op-Ed: Political Suspense in Jamaica

By Ramesh Sujanani
Op-Ed Contributor

It is now the eve of parish council elections in Jamaica. This time it is concurrent with the General Elections in which the PNP (People’s National Party) surprisingly won a mandate over the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) with skill and political management.

The new government is headed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, a seasoned leader and experienced member of Parliament, ably assisted by Peter Philips the new Minister of Finance..

As the Government has just completed a review with the IMF for new banking arrangements, the results and effects of which have not yet been put to the people, it is expected that there will be stringent economic measures placed on life in Jamaica.  It is clear that these measures will not be announced until after elections, when it would not make any serious changes to the balance of power. Announcements before would easily upset the status quo.

The state of the economic ratings of the country will decline, and we expect the exchange rate of the Jamaican dollar to erode.

But it is not unusual for many countries to be in financial problems at this time. In fact, many large countries are carrying serious budget and cash deficits, and it is up to their trading partners to work this out with them.

As for smaller countries, they have to pull in their belt and work solutions, with a tourism product among other solutions, possibly with a mentor: Jamaica has to rely on its neighbor the United States.

But some good seems to have happened to Jamaica lately, as is evident by conversations with the State Department. Its relationship with Jamaica now is very sound and positive.

In the recent past, Jamaica’s Security Positions, Police, Military and other Authorized Security apparatus were in confrontation mode over the “Dudus” affair, with Christopher “Dudus” Coke being the head of criminal activities in Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens and around Jamaica.

The crime situation in Jamaica, with the influence of drug trafficking, arms imports, human trafficking, and consequent criminal activity, was very serious; the Authorities in the US wanted Dudus to be extradited and stand trial in America on drug and other felonies.

Jamaica, on the other hand, under the JLP government of the past, did not want to let him go, for whatever reason.

This led to a growing mistrust between Jamaica and the USA, and the relationship became cool.

The new positive relations between the two entities promise support for the security administration, training for security personnel and control of arms supplied and exported. It involves support for energy projects solar and wind, led by the US business sectors with Governmental backing.

It augurs well for the financial future of Jamaica, and the success of the new PNP Administration.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.