Copyright 2014

Can the Economic Growth Council deliver growth for Jamaica?

In the context of Brexit and the slowdown in the global economy, the formation of the Economic Growth Council by the Andrew Holness-led Administration may have come at a good time. At any given time, such councils, if properly conceptualised and allowed to function, can be good elixirs in stimulating economic growth.

One must admit that when one heard of the Governments plan, ones first thought and hope was that this would not be another top-down group of economic czars who believe they are best placed to solve the economic problems of Jamaica. Ones second concern was that such growth councils tend to be bedevilled by a notion that grand projects can be the panacea that a young, struggling economy like Jamaicas needs to thrive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One well remembers the Rockefeller Commission that was appointed by President Reagan which was supposed to help the newly elected and fledgling Jamaica Labour Party Government under former Prime Minister Edward Seaga to move Jamaica from Third World to First. This initiative, including the Caribbean Basin Initiative, sputtered and died like the Peoples National Partys JEEP of a later era. They did not help to move Jamaicas economic dial in any significant direction. Any success at growing the economy in that period (1980-1989) was more due to the common sense application of economic principles by the Seaga Administration, which saw an average of five per cent growth over the period. Some foreign direct investments came, but not in the waves anticipated by the much-ballyhooed Rockefeller Commission and Reagan gentility.