By JOHN ISSA
OVER the decades, I have often said that The Bahamas can learn some things from Jamaica and then quickly added about what not to do. There are many mistakes we have made in Jamaica which I felt The Bahamas could avoid.
However, Jamaica does some things right and similarly The Bahamas could benefit from doing things in a similar way. This column will attempt to highlight just two of these.
The first is how Jamaica has dealt with electricity. It has gone full steam ahead with a conversion to LNG. This will result in a substantial saving of foreign exchange and a reduction in the cost of electricity for all Jamaicans. It will therefore also boost economic growth by reducing the cost of operations of every business in The Bahamas. I should mention that Jamaica’s electricity utility was privatized some years ago with the result being no losses for the taxpayers as well as cheaper and more reliable service.
The second is Jamaica’s exchange control regime. Since the removal of exchange controls there has been a surplus of foreign exchange. Almost half of the funds held by Jamaicans in banks in Jamaica are held in foreign currency. What made me write on this subject again is that the banks in Jamaica want to charge their customers a fee for accepting deposits of foreign exchange if they are more than a few hundred dollars. Additionally a significant portion of the Government’s foreign debt is owned by Jamaican institutions and individuals.
I will not raise other matters at this time but at a later date i will write about the Access to Information law and the structure of the Commission which deals with all electoral matters.