|The Courier N° 138 - March - April 1993 Dossier: Africa's New Democracies - Country Reports : Jamaica - Zambia (EC Courier, 1993, 96 p.)|
The earthquake which struck Jamaica during The Courier's recent visit in connection with this Country Report was a jolt in more than merely the literal sense. Mercifully, casualties were light and damage was limited but the event brought sharply into focus the capacity of mother nature to thwart humanity in its quest for development, prosperity and progress.
In fact, seismic disturbances do not appear particularly high on the scale of development challenges facing this Caribbean island country. Devastating earthquakes are rare and, as those who experienced the terrible effects of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 will testify, tropical storms pose a much more serious threat. And, of course, there are the man-made challenges or at least those in which mankind is not so much the helpless spectator as the central participant. There is no shortage of these in Jamaica as the country strives to come to grips with a range of economic and social problems in the last decade of the 20th century. In this Report, we examine some of the key issues facing this friendly 'island in the sun' and look at the efforts which are being made to tackle them.
It is fair to say that Jamaica's economic performance, in the thirty years since independence, has not lived entirely up to expectations. During the first decade, the island's traditional dependence on sugar and banana production was reduced as the bauxite sector continued to grow and new investments were made in cement and clothing manufacture. Growth was not spectacular, however, and the high birth rate tended to offset these gains. Government finances were shaky and unemployment remained persistently high.
In the 1970s, these economic difficulties were exacerbated by the first 'oil shock'. Jamaica relies heavily on imports for its energy needs and the crisis was reflected in foreign exchange shortages, further increases in unemployment and general economic stagnation. The People's National Party (PNP), which had defeated the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in 1972, also chose this time to pursue a more active socialist agenda. Some important social reforms were introduced but the economic situation continued to deteriorate. There was a flight of capital from the island and many qualified Jamaicans also left. The vitally needed stability, which local businesses require for expansion and outside investors demand before they will commit funds to new ventures, was also noticeably absent. Indeed, political polarisation, reflected in widespread violence at election times, appeared to threaten the democratic fabric of the country.
The 1980s saw a return to JLP rule and, as the decade progressed, a significant decline in political tensions. The new government introduced a programme of economic liberalisation with a series of structural adjustment measures supported by the IMF and the World Bank. However, the problems proved to be more intractable than the government had hoped and, although there were some signs of progress, not all the targets were met. Modest economic growth was recorded in 1987 but Hurricane Gilbert delivered a major setback the following year, causing serious damage to infrastructure.
Jamaica's balance of payments deficit -aggravated in the early 1980s by an investment policy which drew in capital imports-was financed through overseas borrowings and, as a result, the debt servicing burden grew alarmingly. By the end of 1990, the situation had recovered somewhat but the country's foreign debt still amounted to some US$4.6 billion, or almost US$2000 for every Jamaican.
On the political front, the pendulum swung once again with the election of the People's National Party in 1989. By this time, however, the winds of change elsewhere in the world were already sweeping away the monoliths of centrally-planned economies. The PNP had recognised this and, in adapting to the new situation, had abandoned many of the elements of its previous 'socialist' programmes. As a result, there was no policy 'U-turn' and the new administration continued with a broadly liberal economic strategy and a stringent policy as regards public finances.
When The Courier last reported on Jamaica in 1988, we concluded that 'the recovery is still fragile and, given the openness of the economy, it remains vulnerable'. A number of things have changed since then, but in essence, the same conclusion remains valid today. In overall terms, the Jamaican economy has been expanding slowly over the last five years although GDP per capita actually fell slightly in 1991 as the population increase outstripped economic growth. (Population grew by 0.9% in 1991, a figure which is well below the ACP average). In the same year, the balance of payments deficit fell to US$ 132 million, a significant improvement on the US$340 million deficit of the previous year.
The unemployment figures continued to make for depressing reading. Whilst recurrent expenditure of 1$17.4billion had to be set aside for debt servicing.
Of course, government expenditure cuts inevitably involve pain for those affected. O.D. Ramtallie, who is Minister of Construction, admitted that the recent austerity measures had had a negative impact on his department's budget and the result was a curtailment-hopefully only temporary-in road and construction programmes. Grass-roots discontent was reflected in a series of public-sector strikes during 1992.
Measures to commercialise or privatise a range of state-owned entities have also been undertaken. The National Water Commission, which is responsible for the country's water and sewerage systems, is one such body which has been forced to adapt to the new economic evironment. Claude Stewart, who is the new President of the Commission, explained the plans to restructure the state-owned utility in order to make it more commercially viable and responsive to its customers. (There are no plans to privatise.) The service is being decentralised and, although there has been a reduction in staffing levels from 5000 in 1989 to fewer i than half that number at the end of 1992, Mr Stewart is confident that the service can be placed on a sounder footing, with improved maintenance and more efficient collection of charges. Overseas funders are active in this sector in the provision of new infrastructure.
GDP, the balance of payments, unemployment and the government budget are all important issues but in 1992, the economic news was dominated by what was happening in the currency markets. The story of the Jamaican dollar's fall and rise is a dramatic and fascinating one i which would not be out of place in a
Jeffrey Archer novel.
During the latter half of the 1980s, the dollar was held stable-at what was probably an artifically high rate of roughly 5.5 to the US dollar. As pressures built up, the government chose initially to devalue and then to liberalise the currency trading system, allowing the dollar to float. In September 1991, all remaining controls were removed and within a short space of time the Jamaican dollar had plummeted to a rate of almost 30 to the US dollar. The story of how Butch Stewart, a local tourism entrepreneur, 'came to the rescue' is recounted in the box article on the next page. It is a tale which will doubtless enter Jamaican folklore, but suffice it to say here that the rate bounced back to J$22.20 :US$1 where it subsequently stabilised.
In an economy which is highly dependent on imports, the tribulations of the currency have inevitably had an impact on inflation. This reached 80.2% in 1991, having been at a modest 8.5% only three years previously. The rate fell equally rapidly during the latter half of 1992 as the 'one-off' effects of the dollar's fall worked through the system. In November 1992, year-on-year inflation stood at 39.4% and the annualised rate for the fiscal year (beginning in April) was down to 17.3%.
For a private sector view of recent economic events, The Courier turned to Dennis Lalor who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ICWI Group, one of the Caribbean's leading financial congLomtes. In an upbeat assessment, Mr Lalor described the decision to liberalise the currency, as 'possibly the most important decision since emancipation'. He believed that the Jamaican dollar had been overvalued for far too long and the new rate was now very tempting for exporters-although he did acknowledge the importance of the Butch Stewart initiative in stabilising a situation which had threatened to get out of hand because of the activities of the speculators.
Mr Lalor also praised the liberalisation of import controls. In the past, import licences were needed for more than 1000 items, but most of these had now been removed, making it far easier for companies to obtain inputs from overseas.
While he was enthusiastic about recent liberalisation measures, Mr Lalor recognised what he called 'the continuing fragility of the economy'. The most important element in strengthening the position was a continuing atmosphere of stability and a genuine 'spirit of cooperation'. As he wryly concluded, 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'.
It certainly appears that the macroeconomic indicators are nudging in a positive direction, but a sustained recovery depends-more than ever before in the new economic environment-on the extent to which the private sector seizes the opportunities which have been presented to it.
Notwithstanding the successful economic diversification mentioned earlier, Jamaica, in common with many other small countries, has nevertheless tended to rely for its prosperity on a relatively narrow range of economic activities. A slump in one vital sector, which may be accomodated with greater ease in a larger economy, can therefore have serious ramifications. Although the island is clearly less vulnerable than some of its smaller Caricom partners, there are still three main sectors whose performance can have a big impact on the wider economy.
In financial terms, the most important of these is nowadays the tourist sector (which is discussed in more detail in a separate article later in this Report). Tourism has seen sustained growth over the last decade and this has been reflected in new hotel investments creating additional employment and in the successful expansion of a variety of ancillary activities. Although the tourist 'product' is not something that can be quoted on the world's commodity markets, it is evidently susceptible to external events whether it is war in the Persian Gulf or a recession in the United States. There is not much that Jamaica can do to influence such events, but local tourism entrepreneurs can and do work hard to provide a competitive and quality product designed to keep the visitors coming.
In the primary sector, the country's principal product is bauxite and the alumina which is processed from it. The bauxite mining industry is subject to cyclical trends and, in particular, the level of economic activity in the main western markets for aluminium, which is the end product. In 1991, Jamaica produced and exported more than 11.5 million tonnes of bauxite, which represented a 6% increase over the previous year. Production has been on a rising trend since 1986, when fewer than 6 million tonnes were mined. Alumina production has doubled over the same period from 1.5 million tonnes in 1986 to more than 3 million tonnes in 1991. The main export markets for this product were North America (1.3 million tonnes) and Europe (1.2 million tonnes). The trading relationship which Jamaica previously had with the Soviet Union (see the interview with Senator David Coore), which included a barter arrangement involving bauxite for Lada cars, has been interrupted because of the political and economic upheavals in that former country.
The impressive growth in bauxite and alumina production has, unfortunately for Jamaica, not been fully reflected in the economic returns. Indeed, income fell during 1991 as the average price of primary alumina slumped by almost 20% on the London Metal Exchange. It is nevertheless worth noting that in 1991, more than 11% of GDP was generated from this source. In 1986, the figure was less than 7%.
Traditionally, Jamaica's wealth has been founded on its agricultural production, with a particular focus on sugar and bananas. For a time, it looked as if both crops might be in terminal decline. Sugar production dropped from half a million tonnes in 1965 to well under 200000 tonnes in the mid 1980s. For bananas, the fall was even more dramatic with exports slumping from 150 000 tonnes in the 1960s to as low as 20000 tonnes two decades later. Both sectors have recovered in recent years, however, with sugar production at a 12-year high in 1991 (237 000 tonnes), and banana exports bouncing back to 75 000 tonnes. And while, in overall GDP terms, their contribution is modest, they continue to be important to the country in terms of both foreign exchange and employment.
Under the old system of Commonwealth preference, these two products had access to an otherwise protected United Kingdom market and were largely shielded from the pressures of international competition. Shortly after Britain joined the European Community, new provisions were negotiated in a series of protocols to the Lomonvention which largely preserved the preferential access arrangements. Indeed, quantities of sugar up to a certain level were given a guaranteed market at a guaranteed price (related to the prices set under the Common Agricultural Policy for the Community's own beet sugar). Bananas were to be protected in their 'traditional' markets, which in practice, for Jamaica, meant the UK, while rum. an associated product of sugar, also benefited from a duty-free quota.
It is widely thought that, without these arrangements, the banana and sugar producers would not have been able to withstand the international competition and that large-scale production in the country would, by now, have ended. Recently, such a possibility did, in fact, appear as a dark cloud on the horizon, due to two separate events-the GATT negotiations and the creation of a single European market. The fact that, for the first time, agricultural products were included in the world trade negotiations put a question mark over all forms of protectionism including those rules which gave substance to the preferential access enjoyed by certain ACP products in the Community. The EC's own single market programme seemed to pose a particular threat to the banana trade since the special arrangements vis-is 'traditional' markets were not consistent with the establishment of a genuinely frontier-free Europe.
At the time of writing, the GATT negotiations remain stalled but full trade liberalisation in the agricultural sector is clearly a longer term process and there does not appear to be any immediate threat to the special arrangements which Jamaica and other ACP countries have with the European Community. As regards the specific issue of bananas, a new Community-wide solution has been proposed which purportedly seeks to balance the interests of the ACPs, Community growers and the 'collar-zone' producers. This was still subject to intense debate in the Council of Ministers at the time of going to press.
When Dr Marshall Hall, who is the Managing Director of the Jamaica Producers' Group Ltd (formerly the Jamaica Banana Producers' Association), spoke to The Courier, he was ready to put a brave face on the most recent Community proposals for a new banana regime. These proposals would provide reasonably generous tariff-free quotas for each banana-producing ACP country. Cheaper dollar-zone bananas would also, in effect, be granted a quota, although subject to a tariff of 100 ECUs per tonne. For imports above the determined quotas, a high tariff of ECU 850 would be levied. According to Dr Hall, 'Jamaican producers can live with this scheme' but he recognised the need for the local industry to become more efficient and competitive. He also pointed out that it was only access, and not prices, which would be guaranteed. In fact, the price of bananas in the Community dropped by almost £100 a tonne in 1992 as dollar-zone producers stepped up their exports to the EC in anticipation of the single market, and this is obviously a source of concern to producers in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Only a rash person would predict where the island's banana sector might be in five years' time, but the Jamaicans themselves have clearly recognised the precariousness of this particular export business. Diversification is seen to be the key. It is not coincidental that the Jamaica Producers' Group Ltd has dropped 'banana' from its title and the company has successfully moved into the export of citrus fruits and other produce, although bananas remain as its core activity.
Among the country's so-called 'nontraditional' crops, yams to the value of almost US$ 10m were exported in 1991 while other products traded included mangoes and cut flowers. Other 'traditional' crops which are exported in modest quantities include coffee, coconuts and pimentos.
Although there is considerable enthusiasm in the private sector
for recent liberalisation measures, the social implications of these changes-at
least in the short term-are an obvious source of concern. Jamaica is certainly
not unique in having to grapple with a serious crime problem but the apparently
inexorable rise in violent criminal behaviour and, of course, the chronic drug
problem, are now among the most serious challenges which the government must
tackle. And while the underlying reasons are undoubtedly complex, only the most
reactionary observer would fail to see at least some connection with poverty and
unemployment. In an attempt to come to grips with the problem in the short-term,
the government has focused on improving enforcement. The police force is not
widely respected and reforms to this service are being considered. The army-
whose discipline and reputation are much higher - has been brought in
temporarily to increase security on the streets and they are operating in tandem
with the police. A recent decision to end a de facto
moratorium on the use of the death penalty has also been applauded by many Jamaicans but it has attracted some criticism both internally and from outside. No executions had been carried out at the time of writing.
For the longer term, the Government clearly hopes that economic improvements, feeding down to the poorest levels of society, will have a positive impact on crime rates. Unfortunately, the evidence from more developed countries, most of which are also battling with ever-rising criminality, is less than encouraging.
On a more positive note, Jamaica, in common with most of its Caribbean neighbours, puts a lot of emphasis into education and training. The outreach of the school system is on a par with most of the industrialised world and literacy rates are high as a result. Professor Gerald Lalor of the University of the West Indies confirmed that his institution had largely escaped the government's budget cuts and talked of plans to expand the Mona Campus, which is the UWI's base in Jamaica, to accommodate a 50% increase in student numbers. He also spoke of the growing interest of businesses in educational investment, a fact which was reflected in the endowment of four university chairs by the private sector.
The high level of educational attainment is to be seen in many areas of Jamaican life but most notably in the wide range of cultural activities on the island.
Looking to the future
When one experiences the beauty of Jamaica, the hospitality of its people and the vibrancy of its culture, one is sure to be captivated. This is clearly a country with a great deal to offer but also, it must be said, a great deal to do. After years of economic stagnation-by no means all of which has been self-inflicted-the signs are that, at last, it may be turning the corner. A new economic reality prevails and a new political consensus offers hope for sustained economic development in the coming years.
For government, the challenge is a familiar one, faced today by governments all over the world: how to continue fostering an enterprise culture while, at the same time, maintaining social equilibrium.
For the private sector, the challenge is to grasp the new opportunities which have been presented to it and become the engine of a new prosperity.
But, in the final analysis, the main challenge is for the people as a whole. In the quest for human development, it is human resources which provide the key. It may only be a pointer, but the remarkable response of the people last year to their currency crisis suggests that the Jamaicans are willing and able to rise to the challenge. Simon HORNER
When Michael Manley stood down as Prime Minister in March 1992, to be replaced by P.J. Patterson, many Caribbean commentators saw it as the end of an era. For more than twenty years, the charismatic and sometimes controversial leader of the People's National Party (PNP) had occupied a central position in the Jamaican political system-as Prime Minister for two terms in the 1970s, as the principal opposition figure during the government of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the 1980s and then again in the top job following the PNP's victory in 1989.
Since the 1940s, when Jamaica elected its first Parliament by universal adult suffrage, the country's two political parties have vied with each other for power. For much of this time, the rivalry has been characterised by sharp ideological differences with the PNP favouring socialist policies while the JLP, despite its name, argued for a more free-market approach. But it would be an over-simplification to portray the political history of the country purely in terms of a classic left-right divide. The character and personality of the party leaders has also played a crucial role, ever since the founding fathers of Jamaica, the JLP's Alexander Bustamente (the first post-independence Prime Minister) and his PNP rival Norman Manley (Michael's father) locked horns in the early political debates.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the political landscape of Jamaica was dominated by the powerful personalities of Michael Manley and his arch-rival, Edward Seaga of the JLP, who is currently leader of the opposition. These two men offered very different visions for their country, and robust debate sometimes spilled over into conflict between their supporters, particularly in the polarised atmosphere of election campaigns. Despite this it was often difficult-at least for outsiders-to think of one without the other. The election of P.J. Patterson has changed all that.
The new Prime Minister, (his first name is Percival, but he is more usually referred to by his initials 'PJ'), took office last year following a decisive victory over Labour Minister, Portia Simpson, in his party's leadership election. He is a lawyer by training, having studied at the University of the West Indies and the London School of Economics. He has been active in the PNP since 1955 and began his Parliamentary career in 1967 when he was nominated to serve in the Jamaica Senate. From 1970-1980, he was an elected member of the House of Representatives and he regained his old seat in the 1989 election which brought the PNP back to power.
P.J. Patterson first entered the Cabinet in 1972 as Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Tourism. It was in this capacity that he led the Jamaican team in the negotiations which led to the establishment of CARICOM (Treaty of Chaguaramas, 1974). He has also been closely involved in Lomonvention discussions. In 1978, he was promoted to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Prior to becoming Prime Minister in 1992, Mr Patterson was Minister of Finance.
New leadership style
The Prime Minister is regarded by many as representing a new and more pragmatic style of politics. He is capable of passionate oratory-a necessity for any political aspirant in Jamaica's Wstminster-style Parliament-but the emphasis in his publicity material, is on his 'ability to work in a 'non-confrontational' manner and to guide discussions in a way that 'allows equal respect for the opinions of all involved'. According to Minister of State, Terence Gillette, the new Prime Minister is 'less flambuoyant, less talkative and more serious' than his predecessor and recent opinion polls suggest that the voters approve of this style.
During his first nine months at the helm, P.J. Patterson has certainly had a stormy passage. Rampant inflation, provoked by currency liberalisation, has undermined an already precarious economic situation. The exigencies of IMF-influenced structural adjustment measures have brought pain to the public sector and provoked widespread industrial action while almost half of the country's J$26 billion budget has had to be set aside for debt repayment. Unemployment levels remain stubbornly high and the alarming crime rate-which must be influenced to some extent by the lack of job opportunities-threatens to damage the crucial tourist sector as well as business investment more generally.
Clearly, the challenges were, and still are formidable but the new Prime Minister is determined to steer the ship of state through to calmer waters. In fact, the first tentative signs of renewed confidence on the economic front appear now to be emerging.
When The Courier visited Jamaica in January, speculation was rife that a General Election would soon be called. Under the country's Constitution, it is the Prime Minister who decides on the date of polling and P.J. Patterson is doubtless anxious to obtain a mandate in his own right. The turbulence of his 'honeymoon' period appears not to have affected his popularity - indeed, he seems to have emerged with his standing enchanced, and this is obviously a major consideration in any decision to go to the polls. Past Jamaican voting habits-or at least those of the crucial 'swing' voters-ought to give the Prime Minister cause for optimism. Traditionally, the electors have given the governing party two 'bites at the cherry' before switching to the opposition and the new incumbent must be fervently hoping that Jamaicans do not choose 1993 to break the habit!
It should be recognised that, in addition to the change in leadership style with a new Prime Minister, the policy environment in Jamaica has also undergone a radical transformation although, admittedly, this process began somewhat earlier. In common with parties of the left in a number of the world's 'traditional' democracies, the PNP has felt obliged to abandon many of the 'socialist' elements of its programme and to turn to policies with a stronger free-market orientation. As a result, there is now a broader consensus in Jamaica on the economic fundamentals. Although this fact is unlikely to diminish the intense rivalry between the parties on the campaign trail, it helps contribute to the business confidence which is so vital for economic regeneration. S.H.
The media are an important element in Jamaica's vibrant democratic system. Despite the relatively small market, the country has no fewer than five radio stations as well as the JBC television channel. There are also two daily newspapers (the long established 'Gleaner' and the 'Herald') and a selection of weekly journals. In January, a group of local businessmen launched a new title, the 'Observer', which will be published using the latest print technologies. Initially, it will come out weekly, but the aim is to turn it into a daily as soon as possible.
Journalistic standards are generally regarded as good and reporters do not appear to have any qualms about tackling controversial issues. To an outsider at least, the amount of radio and TV time set aside for political discussion and comment may come as something of a surprise. There are frequent debates about current affairs and all points of view can be heard. But then it must be remembered that Jamaica has one of the most politically aware electorates in the world. They probably wouldn't settle for anything less!
Talks about his country's external relations policies
Keen to deliver
Senator David Coore has had a long and distinguished career spanning politics and the legal profession since he began private practice in Jamaica in 1952. He was elected to the pre-independence Legislative Council in 1959 and served as a member of the special committee that drafted the country's Constitution in 1962. Entering the House of Representatives in 1967, he went on to become Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, posts which he held for six years. This was followed by a period working for the Inter-American Development Bank with postings to the Dominican Republic, Barbados and the United States.
The election of the People's National Party Government in 1989 saw David Coore return to ministerial office. He was appointed a Senator and given the job of looking after his country's foreign and trade relations. He is also leader of government business in the upper house.
In this interview Senator Coore speaks to The Courier about a range of trade and foreign policy issues. He also describes, in frank terms, the policy of the Jamaican Government regarding the two troubled countries which are its nearest neighbours-Haiti and Cuba.
· Senator Coore. How would you characterise the current relationship between Jamaica and the European Community ?
-It is very good. Aside from our links under the Lomonvention, we have relations with all of the countries of Western Europe and have resident ambassadors in Brussels, London, Bonn and Geneva. We have a fair amount of trade with Europe-for historical reasons, mostly with the UK. On the aid side, there are substantial programmes, notably with Germany and Italy, but also with France and, of course, the UK. And we are trying in particular to develop European tourism. This is a critical sector of our economy and is one of the main focuses of our activity in Europe. I should say that it has been progressing quite well in recent years but we are hoping to see it expand still further. To some extent, however, growth in this area is dependent on us being able to increase the number of direct air links.
In general terms, therefore, we regard the EC as a very important area for trade, investment and tourism, in addition of course, to the programmes that we have under the Lomonvention.
I should also say that we have traditionally had good links with the countries of Eastern Europe through our embassy in Moscow. We had an important trading relationship with the former Soviet Union involving the exchange of bauxite and alumina for cash as well as Lada cars. As you can well understand, that arrangement is in suspense at the moment. The problem is that the bauxite was going to the Ukraine while the cars came from Russia. This was obviously workable while they were both parts of the Soviet Union but things are different now and we are still working to find a new relationship with these countries.
· There has been a lot of fairly heated discussion recently about bananas, and in particular about access to EC markets. The Community appears to have arrived at a formula which seeks to strike a balance between the various producers involved- in the EC itself, in the so-called 'dollar zone' and in the ACP countries including Jamaica which have traditionally enjoyed preferential access. What is your view of the proposal ?
-We are not totally happy with it. We think that it has certain deficiencies but we recognise that, given the sharp divisions which exist in Europe over the banana protocol, it is probably the best that could be achieved to protect our position under the Lomonvention.
Of course, it is all related to the GATT and we can't be certain that the new tarification proposal will actually achieve the same results as the previous regime involving specific licensing and quotas. We will just have to wait and see how it works out in practice.
We also recognise that it is going to take some time for the proposal to be implemented. Consequently, we have been very keen to ensure that interim measures were put in place and this has now happened in that the status quo has been maintained until July.
I should say that we preferred the original Commission proposal which, we thought, met our concerns to a greater extent. The current proposal appears to meet some of our concerns but, as I say, a lot will depend on how it actually operates in practice.
· What about the trading position of sugar, which is also an important export product for Jamaica ?
-Sugar is in a different position. The quota is not really affected by the single market. What it is affected by is the modification that is taking place in the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Community. Under the CAP, beet sugar enjoys a fairly healthy subsidy and since the price of beet sugar is used as a reference price for our own cane sugar, the position has been reasonably satisfactory for us. But the beet sugar price is under continuous siege-because of the pressure to modify the CAP, reduce subsidies and so on. We have to anticipate that the reference price will be eroded. So while there is no immediate problem we can see that there may be difficulties in the longer term.
· I was interested to hear your explanation of the problems in the trading relationship with the countries of the former Soviet Union. Are you exploring other export avenues for the bauxite! alumina industry?
-Yes we are, although we don't have any real problem in selling our bauxite. We could find other markets. The real problem at the moment is that the world price is depressed and, therefore, the returns on it are not as good as they were a couple of years ago. But this is a function of the world economy and there is very little we can do about it. We hope that we will be able to reactivate the trade with Eastern Europe because they were taking over 5 million tonnes of bauxite but our industry was not dependent on that-it was the icing on the cake. I can say that the Ukrainians are very keen on maintaining the relationship and continuing to receive our bauxite. So I am hopeful that, as soon as they can Bet their act together, we will be able to resume the trade with them.
· History seems to be littered with failed-or at least only partially successful-attempts to achieve regional integration in the Caribbean. Indeed, a commentator on local Jamaican television suggested recently that integration may not necessarily be a good thing and that small countries could survive quite happily without such arrangements. What do you think ?
-That is complete nonsense. All of us who are members of Caricom need the organisation. It is of value to us. Admittedly, internal Caricom trade is not as great as it could be but it is still important; for example, here in Jamaica it provides a good market for our light manufacturing industries. But more significantly, the existence of a single market in the Caricom region, which is what we are working towards, will increase its attraction to outside investors. You start with a larger market base and, with different islands having different comparative advantages, everyone is in a position to benefit from investments coming from outside.
It also gives us a forum for negotiating on a more realistic basis, for example with the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) or with the countries of Latin America.
Caricom is important to us in Jamaica and we believe that it needs to be strengthened. We also see it as a base from which the English-speaking Caribbean can integrate more closely with the Latin American region of which we are. geographically, a part. It is being recognised more and more that our economic future is bound up with the extent to which we can integrate ourselves into the Latin American region - the wider Caribbean if you like-which embraces the countries of Central America and those of South America that border the Caribbean Sea.
Although progress towards the somewhat grand objectives of the Chaguaramas Treaty ' has been slow, and marked by some disappointments, we have nevertheless moved forward. At the most recent meeting, decisions were taken on the basis of a report presented by the West Indian Commission which is chaired by Sonny Ramphal. These allow us to progress at a pace which everybody is comfortable with. There is no point in trying to move too quickly and not carrying everyone with you.
So the future of Caricom is assured. It is just a question of how fast it is wise to go and the extent to which we can make use of the real benefits that accrue from being able to act as a coherent and cohesive body.
Let me give you a practical example. One of the problems that we all face is the cost of diplomatic representation abroad. As we open up and develop trade and because we need technical and, in some cases, financial assistance from donor countries, it is essential for us to have a diplomatic presence in the outside world but it is an expensive business for small countries to do by themselves. One of the planks in the Commission's proposal is that we should beg,in to share the costs of diplomatic representation and I think that this will enable us-individually and collectively-to have a much wider outreach at lower cost.
In fact, we have already been very successful in operating as a coherent group in fore such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the United Nations, in our dealings with the USA and Canada and of course, in the ACP Group. We have worked closely together and have benefited from this.
· I believe that the Dominican Republic applied to join Caricom ?
-Yes, we had applications to join Caricom from the Dominican Republic, Haiti and even Venezuela while Puerto Rico has expressed interest in some form of association. The conclusion we have come to is that it would be unwise for us to try and extend Caricom to include countries like the Dominican Republic because you could overburden the structure. The total population of Caricom is five million and the Dominican Republic alone has six million people. Haiti has another six million. So we have accepted the proposal put forward by the Ramphal Commission that the integrity of Caricom should be maintained. We have a lot in common, both historically and culturally, and we have already gone some way towards creating a single market. We think that to attempt to bring in other countries at this stage would set back that process. We aim to continue strengthening and deepening Caricom while at the same time, seeking to establish what is called en 'association of Caribbean States' of which Caricom would be a part. That would enable us to establish functional linkages with the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Dutch and French Islands and the Caribbean countries of Central and Southern America. So that is the way that we see the development of integration in this region-not through the enlargement of Caricom itself.
· What is the Jamaican Government's position on relations with Haiti?
-Our position is extremely clear. We were very active in the run-up to the election which brought President Aristide to power. We provided them with a lot of technical and other monitoring assistance. Working very closely with the Carter Centre in Atlanta, the OAS and other organisations, we helped them to put their electoral machinery in place, to prepare voters' rolls and so on. So we were happy when the elections took place and a democratically elected President took office.
Of course, it is not for us to determine who is the right person to be elected, but given the result of the election, Aristide is constitutionally the President of Haiti and he is the only person we recognise as such. Since he was ousted, we have played an active role in the OAS and elsewhere in seeking to mobilise assistance from the wider international community. We believe, firstly, in enforcing the embargo and secondly, in trying to achieve a political settlement and we will continue with that approach. We are quite uncompromising in our contention that, unless and until Aristide is restored as a functioning President, we cannot recognise any regime there. We will continue to press for the people who have seized control-the junta, or whatever you want to call it-to be ostracised by the international community. We are also committed that once constitutional government is restored, we will do whatever we can to mobilise international assistance to meet Haiti's needs. They need a structure, a civil service and a security force that is separate from the army. They need massive economic assistance to get their economy on the move again and all of this is going to require a lot of development cooperation from the international community as a whole.
We have been very vocal in insisting that the OAS must be concerned not only with solving the legal problem, but also in making a commitment that once constitutional government is restored, it will take on board the larger, long-term problem of creating a viable social, political and economic environment in Haiti.
· You talk of ostracising those in control in Haiti but of course you have another close neighbour which has been ostracised by the United States for a long time. What is the state of relations between Jamaica and Cuba?
-We have good relations with Cuba. They have a resident ambassador here and we have an ambassador to Cuba although he is stationed in Jamaica. Indeed, we have a long standing relationship. Many Jamaicans have migrated to Cuba and still live there. We recognise, of course, that because of the hostility of the United States, we can't push this too far, otherwise the US becomes very critical towards us, but we do not observe the unilateral embargo which they have imposed on Cuba.
There isn't a great deal of trade between us because our economies are similar in many ways but we do cooperate and are doing so increasingly in the field of tourism. Cuba is trying to rebuild this sector and there is no doubt that it could be an attractive destination. We recognise that we can both benefit from working together in this area. Jamaican entrepreneurs are operating tourist facilities in Cuba and there is a regular interchange of visitors between the two countries.
We don't think that this antagonism between Cuba and the United States is permanent. One day it will come to an end and we think that when it does, it will have been very much in our interests to have established joint tourism operations.
We are also about to sign some agreements with Cuba in areas of common interest. These involve exchanges of technology, the simplification of visa procedures and action against narcotics trafficking which is certainly a problem for both of us.
Basically, our policy is to do what we can to help the reintegration of Cuba into the North and Latin American families as quickly as possible. We recognise, of course, that as long as the US maintains its present policy, this can only go so far, but nevertheless we feel-and increasingly this is the view throughout Latin America-that we have to do everything we can to encourage the Cubans to open up their economy, to democratise their system and so on. We think that the best way of doing that is by letting them know that we want them on board, as part of the regional system. I think that with the collapse of their linkages with the Eastern bloc, they themselves are increasingly recognising that this is the only way forward. The one missing element is some shift in American policy. I don't expect that to happen overnight but I am hopeful that such a shift will begin to take place-perhaps even without anyone admitting it.
In short, we think that Cuba has to change, in terms of both its political and its economic system but it is much better if that change takes place in a peaceful way, rather than through another bloody revolution.
· One final question concerning the future of cooperation with the European Community. You have spoken a lot about the common interests of the countries in the Caribbean basin. Yet the ACP Group consists of nations from three very distinct regions of the world, and its composition is based on historical linkages with EC Member States rather than any particular geographical or economic logic. What do you say to the suggestion that it may be time for the Community to look at a new configuration in its development cooperation relationships?
-I haven't really thought about that, to be quite frank. But I do think that it is in the interests of all three regions to continue to work together. Obviously, our concerns are not always identical but, by and large, we have a sufficient commonality of interests to make it worthwhile for us to negotiate with the European Community as a group.
Some people might feel that we in the Caribbean, for instance, could do better if we dealt with Community on our own. I do not hold to that view myself. I think that the European Community will increasingly cease to regard their association under the Lomonvention as some sort of assuagement for their colonial past and more and more as a basis for commercial relationships. With this in mind, it is obviously better for us to operate as a larger grouping.
In short, the best way for us to maintain our links with Europe and to maximise the benefits we can get is under the ACP umbrella. That - at the moment at any rate-is our policy.
Interview by Simon HORNER
It does not take a mathematical genius to recognise that when an island with fewer than two and half million inhabitants welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors to its shores in a twelve month period, this means big business. In fact, tourism is the single most important sector of the Jamaican economy contributing almost a third of total receipts from goods and services. It is also the most important source of foreign exchange, and provides employment, directly or indirectly, for tens of thousands of Jamaicans.
In this article, we take a closer look at Jamaica's tourist industry with particular emphasis on the factors which have made it the most important economic sector in the country and on the challenges which it is facing in an evermore competitive global tourist market.
There can be little doubt that, from the point of view of the natural environment, Jamaica has what it takes to attract holidaymakers in large numbers. Top of the list must be the beaches. Despite concerns over the possible health implications of exposure to the sun, the mainly light-skinned tourists from the rich (and cold) countries of the North seem to have lost none of their appetite for 'sun, sea and sand' vacations. Armed with their bottles of high-factor sun-cream, they migrate south in large numbers as the gloom of winter descends on the northern hemisphere and many choose to make their landfall in Jamaica. And who can deny the therapeutic effects of relaxing on a pristine beach of the finest white sand, with a glass of rum or fruit punch and one of the world's most pleasant natural swimming pools just a few paces away? But Jamaica has a great deal more to offer than just beaches. Despite its small size, it has a beautiful and rugged interior with mountains rising to a peak of more than 2000 metres. It has river gorges, water falls, cave systems, stunning bird life and an abundance of colourful flora whose lingering scents provide a constant reminder of the tropical setting. When the late Errol Flynn was forced by a storm to seek a haven for his yacht on Jamaica's shores, he was so captivated by the beauty around him that he chose to spend most of the remaining years of his life there. Few overseas tourists have that option, but the story underlines the country's potential for 'capturing' its visitors and inducing them to return year after year.
Of course Jamaica is not unique in its tropical beauty and nature alone cannot supply the needs of modern mass tourism. Proper accomodation, facilities for entertainment, good food and high quality service are all essential elements for a successful tourist venture and it is here that Jamaica seems to be offering a winning formula. In the resort areas on the north and west coasts, a great deal of money has been invested in tourist infrastructure from the main point of arrival at Sangster International Airport to the restaurants, hotels and villas where the visitors will wine, dine and (at the end of the day) recline. Jamaica is the third most popular holiday destination in the Caribbean after the Bahamas and the Dutch Antilles and this is reflected in the extensive infrastructure. It is noteworthy that local entrepreneurs have played a prominent part in developing the tourist product and the local staff who run the operations are well-trained and friendly.
Jamaicans are naturally gregarious and this is an important element in the equation as it means that visitors are made to feel genuinely welcome. The country also has a rich and vibrant culture. The natural sense of rhythm for which the Caribbean islander is renowned finds expression in reggae and calypso. The former is Jamaica's own unique contribution to contemporary music which was made famous by Bob Marley, and it provides a lively background in the bars and streets. The latter, which was first popularised by Harry Belafonte, belongs, strictly speaking, to Trinidad and even if it is frowned-on by some cultural purists, there is no doubting its popularity with many visitors.
The negative side
Of course, perfection is an aspiration that can rarely be achieved and there are, as always, some negative elements which ought to be mentioned. The first, which is beyond the effective control of the authorities, is associated with the climate. It is ironic that a country whose principal attraction is its idyllic weather should be thus afflicted, but Jamaica is in the hurricane zone and during the season from June to October, there is always the risk that it will be battered by a fierce storm. To be fair, it is rare for the island to experience the full and damaging force of a tropical storm-the last bad one was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988-and the experience is more likely to be frightening than life-threatening. However, the indirect effects on tourism, as on other sectors of the economy, can be serious when the infrastructure sustains damage.
A second negative factor which, from the point of view of the authorities has attracted unwelcome attention in recent years, is the security situation. In common with many other countries, the problem of crime in Jamaica seems to be growing and there is concern about the capacity of the police to deal with it. Some tourists have been attacked and, in 1991, the US State Department issued a 'travel advisory' which certainly did not help Jamaica's image as a tourist destination. It is important, however, to put the problem into perspective. Much of the island's crime is associated with drugs, poverty and social conditions in the poorer areas, and serious criminal acts tend to be concentrated in these locations. Security-particularly in the exclusive beach resorts-is relatively good, and the reality is that the average tourist is probably more at risk from a traffic accident in his home country as he drives to the airport for his flight to the Caribbean. This, of course, does not mean that the visitor should not take sensible precautions.
From the perspective of the tourist industry, the island's flourishing drug trade appears to present something of a dilemma. There is no question of the authorities openly sanctioning the activity but neither do they appear to be 'striving too officiously' to stamp it out, to paraphrase a well-known legal expression. As a result, soft and reputedly not-so-soft drugs are widely available in the tourist areas. ( The Courier was approached on three separate occasions by young people offering to sell ganja during its recent 'Country Report' visit). It is a sad fact that for some tourists drug availability is a selling point when they choose their holiday destination. Conversely, for some Jamaicans, the trade provides a living in an economic environment where 'legitimate' work is in short supply. It should be understood, however, that offenders (both Jamaicans and foreign) are apprehended from time to time and the penalties can he severe.
The growth of tourism over the past decade and a half- the number of visitors has trebled since 1976-combined with a more general awareness of 'green' issues, has also given rise to concerns about the environment. Large scale tourist developments, concentrated in sensitive coastal areas, will inevitably have an impact on local communities and wildlife habitats. Mr Roy Miller, who is Deputy Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board acknowledged these concerns when he spoke to The Courier and he emphasised the importance of developing 'eco-tourism' as a viable alternative. Although in its early stages, the first steps have already been taken with the launch in 1991 of the National Park System. New resort projects, particularly in areas such as Ocho Rios and Negril where substantial tourist developments are already in place, are also likely to be subject to more stringent environmental assessment in the future.
Keeping up with the competition
Jamaica was a popular destination for the well-to-do long before the growth of prosperity in Europe and North America engendered the phenomenon of mass tourism which we see today. But the country has had to adapt to meet the changing market in order to stay ahead of the emerging competition both in the Caribbean and elsewhere in an increasingly accessible world. The economic difficulties provoked by the slump in earnings from bauxite and alumina, the structural problems facing traditional agricultural exports and the oil shocks of the 1970s have at the same time increased Jamaica's dependence on tourism while reducing the scope of government to invest in the basic infrastructure vital to maintaining competitiveness.
Despite these difficulties, the government, with considerable help from its overseas partners, has maintained a capital investment programme which is designed to cope with the increase in tourist arrivals. Recent projects have included major upgrading of water and sewerage facilities at Montego Bay and Negril, improvements to the Northern Coastal Highway and the expansion of the terminal at Sangster International Airport. (It is generally acknowledged that a visitor's first and last impressions of a country are particularly important!) These investments should help Jamaica to maintain its position in the forefront of Caribbean tourism.
Jamaican warmth and hospitality have already been mentioned, but it is worth posing the question whether tourism provokes any resentment among the majority of Jamaicans who live outside the resorts. It is certainly true to say that a lot of money has gone into the tourist areas and the largest population concentration is in the Kingston metropolitan area, which sees few holidaymakers. The government is aware of the danger that it might be seen to favour the tourists at the expense of ordinary people and it strives to achieve a fair balance in its investment programmes.
There has been some criticism, notably from small independent operators such as restaurateurs and taxi firms, of the increasing trend towards 'all inclusive' resort holidays, in which the visitor is whisked from the airport to his exclusive hotel by the beach, only to emerge two weeks later to catch the return flight. Cruise passengers, who make up an increasing proportion of 'visitor arrivals' are also sometimes resented for the fact that they reputedly contribute little to the economy in their very brief visits to the island.
Responding to the first of these criticisms, the major hotel operators insist that they must offer what the holidaymaker wants if they are to attract and retain his or her custom. All-inclusive resort holidays are undoubtedly gaining in popularity. In addition, it is stressed that these operations still generate jobs as well as significant business for local entrepreneurs. In 1991, almost 23 000 people worked in the accomodation sector. Many more, employed in areas such as food and beverages, and construction, benefited indirectly. Regarding cruise ship passengers, who obviously spend no money on local accommodation, it is pointed out in their defence that they still bring in substantial amounts to the country overall. In 1991, they spent an average of US$73 each during their short stay. These are powerful economic arguments which are difficult to refute and it appears that the majority of Jamaicans seem to recognise this.
Some basic facts Jamaican tourism
Performance and prospects
As ever, the fortunes of the tourist sector are dependent on a wide range of factors, many of which are beyond the control of the industry or the island's government. Three quarters of the tourists who come to Jamaica are from the United States and Canada. In 1991, there was a significant drop in arrivals from both of these countries, apparently due to a combination of the Gulf War and the economic downturn. However, the figures for the first ten months of 1992 point to a recovery in this market.
The bulk of Jamaica's European holidaymakers come from the United Kingdom and they appear not to have been affected, either by Gulf War fears or by the deep recession in their own country. Indeed, the number of 'stopovers' increased by almost 7000 from 1990 to 1991 and the trend appears to have continued during 1992.
The big success stories for Jamaican tourism, however, are in the mainland European and Japanese markets. The number of European tourists (excluding those from the UK) almost doubled in 1991 to more than 70 000 and that figure had already been surpassed in the first ten months of 1992. In proportionate terms, the rise in Japanese visitors is even greater although the actual numbers are more modest (12 662 from January to October 1992).
The Jamaican Tourist Board obviously keeps a close eye on economic trends in its principal markets and, with indications of a recovery in North America but continuing economic gloom in Europe, more attention is likely to be devoted to the former, at least in the short term.
In the longer term, the industry seems certain to maintain its pre-eminent position in the Jamaican economy. New competitive challenges-perhaps from neighbouring Cuba, if and when it emerges from its cold war purdah-seem likely, while unforeseen natural disasters, or increasing security problems cannot be ruled out. But the remarkable success of the sector over the past two decades, during a period of sustained economic difficulties for the country as a whole, reveals a resilience and adaptability which bodes well for the future. S.H.
The ideological battle is over but policy differences remain
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Jamaican people were presented with a clear choice in elections. The People's National Party offered an interventionist and broadly socialist programme while the Jamaica Labour Party supported more liberal economic policies. Now that the PNP has embraced the principles of the free market, this ideological split has largely disappeared. The current ascendancy of economic liberalism ought to be a source of some satisfaction to the party in Jamaica which has traditionally espoused it but it also presents them with a dilemma: how to project a distinctive agenda which is attractive to the crucial floating voters.
Bruce Golding who is Chairman of the JLP insists that, despite the new economic consensus, there are still important differences between his own party's approach and that of the governing PNP. In this interview with The Courier, he explains these differences and talks about the JLP's electoral prospects.
· Mr Golding, how does your party's approach to solving Jamaica's economic prob1ems differ from that of the Government ?
- The ideological differences have now disappeared to the extent that the governing party has abandoned its socialist commitments of the 1970s. There are, however, some very sharp policy differences over the role of government in the economy. The present government has adopted a 'hands-off' approach. They seem to be convinced that, on the economic front, the best thing to do is nothing. They want to leave it to the private sector, confining themselves to monetary and fiscal management and the provision of basic social services. They say that this is an effort to create an investment-friendly environment. We differ on this fundamental point because we take the view that a country in our position - where there is a lack of investment, no real growth in traceable goods and services, high unemployment and a significant balance of payments deficit-cannot leave the solution solely to the organic workings of the private sector.
Now I am not for one moment suggesting that government should become dominant or that it should start taking economic initiatives in a unilateral way. I believe that if we are to succeed, there has to be a close synergy between government and private enterprise with policies and strategies being worked out together. There is no point trying to drag the private sector, kicking and screaming, into doing things they don't believe in. But we also see the need for an overall investment policy framework that seeks to identify the principal instruments of growth and development and the areas where this will take place. Government has a clear role here in pulling the whole thing together and providing the necessary incentives.
I would not necessarily rule out the possibility that there may be a need for government equity participation, because very often. when it comes to new investment initiatives, the private sector is somewhat timid. Perhaps they need to have their hands held for a little while. We have to recognise that in the past, and particularly during the 1970s, there was a massive migration of capital and skills- management and investment skills in particular. As a result, we have lost much of the investment ethic. The private sector is not as bold or courageous as it used to be in embarking on risk investment. They prefer to play the stock market where money is simply moving around within a particular pool, or to deposit their money at the central bank where they can get a substantial and secure rate of return. But that does not create a single job; it does not put one root of cane in the ground; it does not put one piece of new machinery into a factory so that we can produce and export more.
The government seems to be hoping that, having liberalised exchange controls and taken various other measures to open up the economy, it will all now happen generically. We disagree with this analyses.
Look at the experience of other countries. We can't really compare ourselves with the industrialised nations, but I think we can look for comparisons in Asia and the Pacific. Twenty-two years ago, Singapore was just behind us in terms of growth and development. Today, they are way ahead of us. They succeeded because they had a very proactive government and we support the same approach here in Jamaica.
· You mentioned last year's currency liberalisation which obviously caused a major upheaval. It is widely believed that the 'Butch Stewart initiative', which was taken up by other entrepreneurs and actively supported by ordinary Jamaicans, stabilised the currency. Is this belief correct, in your view?
I think that most of the analyses I have heard have missed the fundamental point. I should stress that we are not opposed to liberalisation. It was in the medium-term economic programme which we produced in 1988 when we were in government. We planned a gradual move towards currency liberalisation to be completed by fiscal year 1993/94. But we also warned that if it happened too abruptly, we would pay the price in terms of movement in the exchange rate and that's exactly what happened. By the end of fiscal year 1991/92 which ended last March. inflation had reached 105%. This had an impact on the poor and middle classes alike. It affected the cost of our debt servicing and the government's ability to provide basic services. That level of inflation also discourages investment and I think that we will be reaping the consequences of that for a long time. We were not opposed to liberalisation as an objective, but we would have been far more gradual in our approach to it.
Now in terms of what actually happened, the Butch Stewart initiative clearly had an impact. I don't think one could argue otherwise. It put pressure on other major foreign exchange earners to take similar action and the people rallied round. But I think it is true to say that that effort, commendable as it was, would not have succeeded if it had not been supported by very tight monetary policies designed essentially to mop up liquidity. And policy in that area has not been as consistent as it should have been. In June 1991, for example, the Prime Minister, who was then Minister of Finance, was announcing with great accomplishment, the reduction of interest rates at a time when they should not have been reduced. That was one of the reasons why the measures in the early part of last year had to be so severe but there is no doubt that they helped to contain demand and therefore to ease pressure on the currency.
I am not sure that we are home yet, however. While we have had a rate of J$22.20 to one US dollar for quite a while now and people are inclined to think that this is a stable rate, there do seem to be some problems in obtaining foreign exchange. I myself needed US$2000 to send my daughter back to school last week and I had considerable difficulty in getting it. Now I do believe that my position does give me a little premium in dealing with bank managers. If I could have had that level of difficulty, where I had to shop around and it took me a couple of days, I can imagine that somebody who needs $100 000 to bring in raw materials probably has problems as well.
· One of the most serious issues facing the country is the crime and security problem. How has this arisen and what would you do to tackle it?
-This is not a new problem but it has become particularly accentuated in recent times. Crime is a factor, principally of two things. The first is social conditions-poverty and all that goes with it as well as a breakdown in traditional community and family structures. These are things which have to be tackled with long-term policies.
But you can't afford simply to wait for the long term treatment to work. It is also an immediate problem which threatens much of what is vital to us. This involves looking at the other factor which is the serious deterioration in our law enforcement capabilities. The police force is run down-not just as regards equipment and resources but also in terms of qualification, spirit and morale. It needs major reform. We have made some proposals, which I don't think have attracted widespread popular support, to amalgamate the police and the army. We really don't feel that a country of our size living in the world that we now live in, really needs an army. They are there, in effect, to come in and clean up where the police have failed and while that has been helpful, we don't believe it is the most effective way of dealing with crime and violence.
A criminal will always look at the odds. If the chances of his being caught are only two in ten, he will probably decide it is worth the risk. And the more he gets away with it, the more he is likely to do it again, so that it becomes a pattern. This is essentially what has happened here.
I feel that we need to get the police back into the community. They are too busy in these great installations that they call police stations. The police officer should be the person whom the community looks to for protection, not someone to be feared.
There have been various reports on this problem and I am optimistic that we will see progress in the coming year. A special task force, which was set up in agreement between the government and the opposition, has been working on the issue. It is too early to say, however, whether their recommendations will go far enough.
· What is the JLP's position on the issue of Caribbean integration?
-We think that the efforts in this area have been misdirected. There is an undue emphasis on political integration which we feel is neither necessary nor workable. Too much of the effort is being driven by some sort of emotional, sentimental idea of commonality, history and culture rather than by the solid economic benefits that can be gained. Because of this, I think we keep missing the goal. Instead of the present crusade for deeper integration within Caricom, we think it should be widened.
Let us consider Caricom. At the moment, it has a population of five and a half million which is a joke in terms of the world economy. That is the size of a European city. We feel that we ought to be looking beyond the English-speaking Caribbean to relationships in the first instance with other countries in the Basin such as Venezuela, Suriname and the French and Dutch Islands. We would then be looking at a population of some 30 million and an economic unit that would make more sense in terms of viability, market strength, skills, investment and so on. And we wouldn't necessarily want to stop there. In the longer term, we should also be looking at closer links with all the Andean countries.
I also believe that we must seek to secure some accomodation within NAFTA. Currently the talk is about preferential arrangements and that may be necessary because of our small size. But the larger you are, the less dependent you become on these types of concessionary arrangement and, even if we have to seek concessions, they should be for a limited duration. Part of the problem of developing countries such as Jamaica is that we never allow ourselves to be weaned from the nipple bottle. We must accept that eventually, we shall have to stand on our own two feet.
· What about the current political situation ? There is a lot of election speculation, now that the PNP has taken the lead in the polls. How confident are you of being able to claw that back?
-We have a very difficult task to win the election. I think that much of what is carrying the PNP along is clever and sophisticated management of public perception. A lot has been said about the Prime Minister's style and about the supposed social tranquility and economic stability. The raw experience of the majority of the population is very different, but they are caught up in a kind of lull having been through a long period when prices were going up almost every week. So there is a general feeling of relief.
The Labour Party of course has its own internal problems that have not entirely been resolved and that has also affected us because it tends to diminish our attractiveness as an alternative government. We are not ready and we do have that problem. But politics in Jamaica are very dynamic and it is difficult to say what the situation will be like in two months from now.
We are mounting a campaign which seeks to point out that the country is just marking time-that it is going nowhere fast-and that a lot of this is due to the fact that the government has abandoned its role and the country is basically being run on autopilot. Deliberate decisions and initiatives are needed and we intend to outline the policies that we want to see implemented. Whether we have enough time to get the message across is another matter.
· One final question. Mr Seaga obviously isn't going to be around for ever. Are you likely to put you name forward for the JLP leadership?
-You know that we are avid cricketers here. Well, in cricketing terms, I don't lift my bat until the bowler has released the ball.
Interview by Simon HORNER
A profile of Professor Rex Nettleford
Rex Nettleford is, to use an old-fashioned expression, a 'man of parts'- one of those people whose diverse interests and activities and whose boundless energy prompt admiration and amazement in equal measure.
On reflection, 'boundless' is an unsuitable adjective. For Rex Nettleford is a dancer-as well as being a university professor, historian, trade union activist, choreographer, director, author and all-round cultural oracle.
The Courier met this remarkable man in his office at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, where he is Professor of Continuing Studies and Pro-Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for outreach and institutional relations. A historian by training, his studies included a period as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and his current teaching timetable embraces history, politics and culture. but the achievement for which he is particularly renowned is his central role -over thirty years-in the famous Jamaica National Dance Theatre Company
The NDTC came into being in 1962 and the young Rex Nettleford was one of the leading lights in the group which helped to set it up. The inspiration behind the company is perhaps best summed up by the professor's own words, taken from the brochure which was published to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.
'In setting ourselves the task of finding our own voices (or should l say feet ?) in the art of dance, we have from the beginning pledged ourselves to forging a vocabulary, technique and style rooted in the realities of Jamaican and wider Caribbean life. This has in no way ruled out the fertilising energy of discoveries from other civilisations. But we have been very aware that none but ourselves can... find ourselves. '
Over three decades, the company has certainly succeeded in forging a uniquely Jamaican vocabulary, technique and style -which has been critically acclaimed throughout the world. Indeed, one measure of the success of this still essentially amateur group, is to be found in the 'roll-call' of international venues where it has performed while on tour.
The dance forms evolved at the NDTC do not, however, necessarily fit a single mould or concept. The cultural currents and eddies which have swirled in and out of the Caribbean Sea for centuries have created a kaleidescope where elements of the different original influences mingle, but can still be identified.
Nor are the dances always comfortable to the eye. As Nettleford, who has himself danced in many productions as well as choreographing and directing various works, points out; 'where being 'entertaining' demands little more than what is expected of traditional minstrelsy we recoil from such an easy and demeaning route'. High standards indeed, and ones which do not always equate with commercial success. But the NDTC refuses to 'compromise its vision' and it is worth noting that it has succeeded over the years without direct government subsidy.
The success of the NDTC would have made an interesting subject on its own for an interview, but when Professor Nettleford spoke to The Courier, he chose to tackle a broader canvass, revealing in the process the eclectic nature of his interests. He spoke of Jamaica's economic problems, concerns about social justice and equality but above all about 'an intense engagement in the exercise of creative imagination' which has arguably made Jamaica the cultural capital of the Caribbean. He stressed the impact of his own small island on the popular music of the wider world, referring in particular to Bob Marley as a 'global force'. But even this, he argued, was only 'the tip of the iceberg' with a great deal more happening on the ground in Jamaica.
He went on to refer to the 'excellent partnership which exists between the government and the people' in the field of cultural endeavour, not forgetting the private sector which had always played a role in helping the arts. The collective experience of the Jamaican people had been a 'tremendous source of energy' and the result was a strong sense of cohesion in civil society.
The Professor also spoke about another of Jamaica's unique cultural events- the Pantomime-which had not 'missed a day since 1941'. This event, which bears a certain resemblance to the fairy-tale performances familiar to Englishspeakers in Europe, is a highly popular musical comedy which satirises local situations and people. Jamaican folklore supplies many of the characters and Jamaican music features prominently.
One of the reasons for abundance of cultural activity in Jamaica, Nettleford believes, is the fact that the people have traditionally 'soughs to honour achievers in the area of creative intellect and imagination'.
Finally, when asked about the (pernicious?) influence of American culture, the professor was surprisingly sanguine. He spoke of the challenge to develop organic alternatives but also was keen to point out that Jamaican reggae had gone out into the world. In short, he saw no objection to cross-cultural pollination. Or as he put it; 'by all means, put fertiliser to the soil. All we have to do is to make sure that the fertiliser does not become the soil'. S.H.
Area: 11 424 km² (4411 square miles)
Population: 2 435 800 (1991)
Crowth rate. 0.9% (over 1990)
Density: 213 per km²
Government: Bicameral parliamentary democracy
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth, represented in Jamaica by a Governor-General. (Discussions are currently under way with a view to moving towards a republican system)
Prime Minister: P.J. Patterson (People's National Party)
Leader of the Opposition: Edward Seaga (Jamaica Labour Party)
Party Representation in the House of Assembly (February 1993): PNP 46 seats, JLP 14 seats (election due shortly)
Currency: Jamaican Dollar (US$ I = J$ 22.20 - January 1993)
Inflation: 1990 - 29.8%, 1991 - 80.2%. The year-on-year rate topped 100% in early 1992 but dropped sharply thereafter. For the first nine months of 1992, the rate was 37%. In September 1992, prices rose by only I % pointing to further steep falls in the annual rate as the one-off effects of the currency devaluation worked through the system.
Gross Domestic Product: (in J$bn)
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at current prices
at constant price
(1986 base year)
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Real GDP growtb rate4.8%0.2%
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Balance of payments (in US$m)
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Principal exports (in US$m)
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Source: Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 1991 prepared by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.
by Jean-Claude HEYRAUD
Since 1976, many of the privileged relations between Jamaica and the United Kingdom have been taken over by the European Community, through the Lomonvention, and are now based on reciprocal interests in a new spirit of equal partnership. They and the EC's relations with the other countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific have been institutionalised in various ways and one of the institutions, the ACP-EEC Council of Ministers, which takes place at least once a year, met in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, in May of last year.
The main thing which the Lomonvention provides is a stable, long-term framework, both for the development of trade relations with Europe and for the country's economic and social development in general, while there is also shorter-term support for the stabilisation and structural adjustment of the economy.
Jamaican bananas, sugar and rum-Community alcohol.
Trade with Europe remains dominated by two Jamaican exports, sugar and bananas, once the bulwark of relations with the United Kingdom. Two Lomrotocols guarantee continuing access for these two products, which are vital to Jamaica in terms not just of economic advantage and export earnings (12.6% of the total in 1991, and 78% of agricultural export earnings), but of employment and a safe income to small peasants and rural workers.
As with other ACPs in the region. Jamaican bananas have so far had completely free access to their only export market, that of the United Kingdom. But with the coming of Europe's single market this year and the disappearance of national markets inside the Community there is to be a new system though. as agreed in the Convention, it attempts not to place traditional ACP suppliers in a less favourable situation on the Community market than they were before. Like other countries in the region. Jamaica has remained alert and still keeps a very close eye on Community decisions in this field-on which the ACPs are always consulted first.
Although Jamaica's banana output was hit hard by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, it recovered fast and exports rose to 75 290 t in 1991, with even better figures expected for 1992.
Bananas and 15 of the island's other agricultural products are covered by the Lomonvention's export revenue stabilisation system, Stabex, which cushions drastic fluctuations in earnings. Jamaica has used it once for bananas in 1981.
ACP producers have to compete with the cheaper Latin American bananas by ensuring high quality and low costs. One of the reasons for spending ECU 1.5 million of EDF money on the rebuilding and extension of Boundbrook Wharf at Port Antonio-due to be the point of export for about 75% of Jamaica's bananas after completion in March 1993 is to cut losses and costs at the port and during transport.
For sugar, the protocol provides an annual quota of almost 119 000 t of white sugar (the ACPs fourth largest) at a price related to the price paid for Community sugar, which is far higher than the world market price. This amount is slightly more than half the island's output, which thus supplies domestic needs and the privileged external markets in the Community and the United States (quota of roughly 22 000 t in 1991). There are also special access arrangements for a sugar product, rum, which are gradually being liberalised, with larger Community entry quotas as from this year. The Community will be laying down the arrangements for stopping the quota (planned as from 1996) in advance, in the light of ACP exports and the situation and outlook on the Community rum market.
Under provisions which are not part of the Lomonvention, Jamaica is also able to purchase European wine alcohol on favourable terms, turning it into ethanol and re-exporting it, also on favourable market access terms, to the USA. This is almost the only example of a commodity imported by an ACP country and re-exported in processed form to the North.
Jamaica exports 31 .1% (by value) of its products to the Community. but goods from the Community only account for 13.8% of its total imports (1991 figures). It has managed to boost its foreign exchange earnings and reduce its dependency on sugar and rum over the past decade by increasing its output of nontraditional products (fruit and vegetables, spices, flowers, cigars, textiles etc.), thereby bringing about a substantial and steady increase in its exports to the Community, which levies no import duty on them. Indirectly, this improvement should also go some way towards helping both sides alter the balance of trade.
The Commission wanted to make an effective contribution to this and so, in January of this year, it approved the Target Europe Programme to provide support for the recent, joint initiatives of JAMPRO, Jamaica's public trade and production promotion board, and private exporters in the Jamaica Europe Business Club. The ECU 3 million for this are to come from the first LomV national indicative programme (19901995).
Table 1: Summary of EC assistance to Jamaica since 1975
Jamaica has been negotiating economic stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes with the international financial institutions since 1978. The special structural adjustment support provided under LomV is timely, because, over the past two years, Jamaica has taken the most stringent economic stabilisation and liberalisation measures, giving it access to the IMF's Extended Financial Facility (EFF) for the three coming years.
The Community's structural adjustment support includes LomV financing for an ECU 8.4 million general import programme (ECU 2.5 million special support and the balance from the LomV and ex-Lom national indicative programmes) to support the balance of payments. The counterpart funds accruing from this provide social sector budget assistance and in some cases supplement Community activity in other areas-rural development for example. These funds are targeted at a meeting of the Finance Minister, the Planning Institute and the Delegation.
Other EDF projects are also designed to support the Government's programme of reform. For example, plans are being made for an ECU 7 million credit line programme using the balance of the LomI and III NIP special loans and grants to promote employment and production, two vital factors for the policy's success. This programme, in which a good percentage of the loans to final users will be managed by Jamaican NGOs, should not just help small firms. Enterprising individuals who want to open workshops will also benefit. The various organisations will have technical assistance to optimise their distribution and loan recovery. The prospects of success are particularly sound in this developing country, where private enterprise is expanding and industrial production outside the mining sector already accounts for 16% of GDP.
The European Investment Bank, which was involved in the sector before the EDF, has laid on ECU 30 million in the shape of three credit line programmes, via the National Development Bank, and has financed two ECU I million company share operations via the appropriate organisations.
Economic restructuring has also involved the Government in a World Bank-supported civil service reform, of which one of the main features so far is a hefty 20% staff cut. It goes hand in hand with a come-home policy to encourage expatriate Jamaicans to return and use their skills and experience in the national administration to help development. An ECU I million programme (tome IV) is currently being set up under the responsibility of the International Organisation of Migration in Geneva to get more than 40 of these qualified Jamaican expatriates home and settled.
Budget restrictions have hit education hard, but the University of the West Indies has benefited from all the successive Lomegional funds for wide-ranging development of its four campuses in Jamaica (Mona), Barbados (Cave Hill) and Trinidad & Tobago (Saint Augustine and Mount Hope). It has also received ECU 16 million from LomI and III to rebuild the university hostels on the four campuses as well as at CAST (College of Art, Science and Technology) and the CTC (an arts and culture training centre), which are two Jamaican institutions serving the whole of the Caribbean.
Lastly, the Community and various NGOs cofinance a number (more than 32 since 1977) of small projects, mainly in the social field, to help cushion the social repercussions of the adjustment policy.
Focal sectors of Community aid
Jamaica has stuck to the approach of previous Conventions, LomII especially. The first national indicative programme (1990-1995) of LomV focuses funds on economic infrastructure and agriculture, two sectors affected by the adjustment measures.
The rural road repairs begun under LomII (almost ECU 7.3 million) are continuing under LomV (ECU 13.5 million), as are the rural and semirural water supplies (ECU 6.7 million under LomII and perhaps as much as ECU 18 million under LomV). These sums include the institutional improvements vital to the development and better management of the organisations in charge of this work (the Ministry of Public Works and the National Water Commission). There are particularly good reasons for Community involvement in this area given that, with the Negril and Ocho Rios purification facilities (see below), almost ECU 50 million from the past three EDFs have been invested in the water sector. The linkage which is envisaged in this area is in the hands of the United Towns Development Agency, which proposes to extend the Ciudagua programme (already developed with Latin America) to the Caribbean with financial help from the Community. All this financing is of indirect benefit to agriculture and transport (shifting farm produce) and helps raise the standard of living in rural areas by discouraging people from moving to the towns.
The EIB has also helped with economic infrastructure, using capital from own resources to finance a jetty for cruisers in Montego Bay (ECU 5.25 million) and to build a container terminal in Kingston (ECU 16 million).
Table 2: Lom - II - III - IV
Agriculture contributes barely 8% of GDP, but it has considerable potential and, above all, is an essential aspect of any balanced development (employment for 27% of the working population, development of rural areas, food import-substitution and containment of the move to the towns). The aim of financing previous programmes was primarily to back up all the small growers, particularly in the coffee industry, where ECU 3.5 million was provided, mainly in the form of small loans, although cocoa and citrus fruit farmers were also helped, as were goat breeders (the meat features in curry goat, one of the national dishes). This last scheme is in fact being run on a regional scale by CARDI, with LomII financing. The technical cooperation with bee-keeping also developed under LomII is being pursued under LomV (ECU 1.7 million) with similar aims. Preparation of a programme of support for extension services and small farmers is due to start in March 1993, using the balance of several million ECU still available in the LomV national indicative programme.
Lastly, a recent evaluation shows that the support for small peasant farmers in the Saint Anne province, who have switched from ganja-growing to legal crops, has achieved what it set out to do. This is one of the four Jamaican projects financed to the tune of ECU 1.3 million from the Commission budget as part of the North-South drug control cooperation programme. The others focus on prevention and rehabilitation.
Biggest foreign-exchange earner -the tourist trade
The tourist trade, expanding constantly and only slightly dented by the Gulf crisis, has been Jamaica's biggest foreign exchange earner ($750 million) for three years now, with a big interest in visitors from Europe making up for the declining interest on the part of American holiday makers. The bulk of the investments in this sector have been made by dynamic, enterprising Jamaican businessmen.
The Community provides substantial support for this still fragile sector, which is now such an important one for the country. Montego Bay airport, the main tourist point of entry, has been expanded (ECU 7.1 million from LomII) and is already able to cater more efficiently for the ever-increasing numbers this season.
Lastly, Negril and Ocho Rios, the two tourist centres, are getting new sewage collection and treatment systems to make them more hygienic, prevent pollution of the sea and the beaches and protect the coral reef. The financing for this, ECU 25 million (approval in the first quarter of 1993) comes from the Lom1 Sysmin funds, which are being redirected from the bauxite industry to help diversify the Jamaican economy and protect the environment.
Table 3: Allocation of National Indicative Programme resources by sector
Community aid: more closely targeted and better absorbed
Not much Community aid was absorbed in the 1980s. Only an average of ECU 3.5 million was paid over each year of the decade and there was a considerable build-up (ECU 72 million in l 990) as a result, but the rate of disbursement has speeded up a lot over the past few years to reach an average of more than ECU 6 million p.a. But, far more than the increase in payments, it is the present rate of primary (financing decisions) and secondary (contracts) commitments which, combined with the Jamaican authorities' greater attention to projects, justifies the level of Community aid, most of which is in the form of grants. Primary commitments have already been made for 52% of the LomV national indicative programme. The Government knows what is wrong and is trying to cut through more red tape. The needs are still there, urgent and far from being met.
So the technical and financial cooperation schemes between Jamaica and the European Community are many and varied and they are run in many fields, all of them essential, to provide support at the most critical points in the economy of an island which, thanks to its beauty, its culture and the drive shown by its people, is unique. J.-C. H