A Jamaican Dollar For Your Thoughts


By David Rowe
Op-Ed Contributor


THE JAMAICAN DOLLAR is now trading at many licensed cambios at 100 to 1. This is not a good development for Jamaica and it is certainly not politically attractive for current PNP administration.

The dollar, which in my days at Wolmer’s School in Kingston was worth more than a US dollar, is now languishing, defeated by over-expenditure, corruption and the general lack of productivity of the last several decades.

At Sabina Park, we used to call four runs a “dollar worth” because it was four dollars to a Jamaican pound.

And even four decades ago, the JMD was at a rate of 0.77 to the dollar. For periods in 1978, the exchange rate was effectively 1 to 1.

If Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller wishes to stabilize her political legacy, she must stabilize the dollar. To achieve this, Jamaica needs a leaner, meaner government. There is young, well-educated talent that she must take advantage of before it is too late and the sun has set on her once-promising administration.

Jamaicans must not be rewarded for politics — they must be rewarded for their productivity. In Britain, the philosophy was “export or die.” In Jamaica, it seems as if we will die before we export.

Our international bankers seem depressed by the crime, corruption and apparent unwillingness to change our ways. The International Monetary Fund talks were not a walkover on this occasion, and Jamaica’s reputation as a country of lawlessness and lotto scams was on full display in the United States Congress and on national TV in America.

These developments will not help the value of the dollar.
At the time of writing, the IMF had still not funded the government’s requests, and the sustained lack of funding is interpreted by some as a lack of confidence in the country’s economy.

Even well-educated young people are not able to find jobs in the current malaise. And today, the £1 million reportedly spent on public entertainment and promotion at the Olympics seems wanton.

This is not what the Jamaican populace expected from the new PNP administration and now some of the old doubts about the  PNP have begun to emerge. Is the administration too large? Have too many neophytes and politicos been given jobs that they cannot manage?

Is the energetic youthful “Facebook Brigade” being excluded from political participation?

The listlessness of the dollar is deeply troubling. The one cent coin in my old 1972 Jamaica proof set is now worth .0001 US — that is, you would need 10,000 one cent coins to make one US dollar. It is a sad state of affairs.

Will the rate be 200 to1 before the next general election?

David P Rowe is an attorney in Jamaica and Florida and an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla.

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.