Jamaica - Economic analysis of government's policies, investment climate and political risk.






JAMAICA: Economic Policy Analysis

This site presents an analysis of the Jamaican government's economic policies compared to a revised list of 34 economic policies as prepared by student Mrs. Olive Davis with the McKeever Institute of Economic Policy Analysis (MIEPA)in December of 2001. To read the analysis scroll through this site. To learn more about the background policies, click here  Introduction and Policy Recommendations

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Olive Davis, an Jamaican native who currently [December 2001] lives in Berkeley, has completed a study of her home country government's economic policies as compared to the MIEPA list of policies as outlined above. The study on Jamaica is shown below. The ratings herein are based on the following rating scale:


5.0 Perfect Facilitation of Wealth Creation
4.0 Midway between Perfect and Neutral
3.0 Neutral Effect on Wealth Creation
2.0 Midway between Neutral and Obstructionist
1.0 Perfectly Obstructionist to Wealth Creation
[Rating scale copyright Mike P. McKeever, 1996. Used herein with permission]

To read a disclaimer about the analysis in this file, scroll to the bottom of the file.

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Comparison of Jamaica's economic policies to MIEPA criteria as prepared by native student of Jamaica, Ms. Olive Davis, studying in the US in December of 2001.



        1               3.0           9.0             15.0        60 %

        2               3.5          10.5             15.0        70

        3               2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        4               2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        5               3.5          10.5             15.0        70

        6               5.0          15.0             15.0       100

        7               3.5          10.5             15.0        70

        8               4.5          13.5             15.0        90

        9               3.0           9.0             15.0        60

        10              3.0           9.0             15.0        60

        11              3.0           9.0             15.0        60

        12              3.5           7.0             10.0        70

        13              4.5           9.0             10.0        90

        14              5.0          10.0             10.0       100

        15              3.0           6.0             10.0        60

        16              3.0           6.0             10.0        60

        17              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        18              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        19              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        20              3.0           6.0             10.0        60

        21              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        22              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        23              3.0           6.0             10.0        60

        24              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        25              3.0           6.0             10.0        60

        26              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        27              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        28              5.0          10.0             10.0       100

        29              1.0           1.0              5.0        20 

        30              4.0           4.0              5.0        80

        31              2.0           2.0              5.0        40

        32              2.0           2.0              5.0        40

        33              2.0           2.0              5.0        40

        34              1.0           1.0              5.0        20

   TOTAL              101.0         226.0            375.0        60.3%
                      =====        ======            =====        =====

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Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and of the press, are provided under the Constitution, and the Government respects these rights in practice. The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in periodic elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. However, voters living in "garrison communities", in inner-city areas dominated by one of the two major political parties, face substantial influence and pressure from politically connected gangs and young men hired by political parties, which impede the free exercise of their right to vote. During the 1997 general election campaign, both international and local observer groups concluded that intimidation of party agents and voters of non-dominant parties and restrictions on the movement of voters and election workers occurred. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics; however, they are underrepresented in government and politics. A number of active women's rights groups exist. They are concerned with a wide range of issues, including violence against women, political representation, employment, and the image of women presented in the media. Their effectiveness is mixed. The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex. The Government largely enforces these prohibitions in practice, except for widespread discrimination on the basis of political opinion in the distribution of scarce governmental benefits, including employment. Workers have the right to form or join a trade union, and union's function freely and independently of the Government. No laws mandate accessibility for the disabled, and disabled citizens have encountered discrimination in employment and denial of access to schools. Several government agencies and non-governmental organizations provide services and employment to various groups of disabled citizens.

Source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -2000 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 2001


Freedom of speech, of the press, peaceful assembly and association are provided under the Constitution, and the Government respects these rights in practice. There were numerous community protests against police actions during the year. The four largest newspapers, all privately owned, regularly report on issues on the island, human rights abuses, etc. In an April 27 press conference, the Police Commissioner criticized a journalist who raised a question about political motivation behind a violent confrontation that occurred the previous day. On the following day, the same journalist was confronted by a police officer. Parliament approved the Corruption Prevention Act, which the Government had reintroduced without clauses that journalists had charged would restrict their ability to report about corruption. The original draft provided that journalists could be fined up to $25,000 (J$1 million) and receive 10 years' imprisonment for publishing information about an ongoing corruption investigation. The new act does not restrict the media from publication.

Source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -2000 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 2001


Chapter III of Jamaica's 1962 Constitution affords all Jamaican citizens fundamental human rights and freedoms including the right to life, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and protection for the criminally accused. Today, inherited loyalties to one political party or the other often remain in many Jamaican communities, even though the original reasons for loyalty to a particular party may no longer exist. Local residents at times refuse to cooperate with the police preferring to trust and rely on residents perceived as "dons" as protectors, providing security, stability and order that the police fail to offer. Although Jamaican law states that no child should be held for over twenty-four hours in police custody, Human Rights Watch found that police often detain children for longer periods. Amnesty International has launched a campaign to halt alleged human rights abuses by police in Jamaica, which at present has the world's highest rate of police killings per capita. Jamaica has one of the worst records of police violence in the world, with official statistics listing an average of 140 people shot and killed annually over the last 10 years. Jamaica also has a poor record of failing to properly investigate and prosecute violations committed by police and soldiers. Police investigators do not, in general, look into crimes allegedly committed by members of the security forces in an impartial or thorough manner.

Source: www.hrw.org/press/August 2001


Property and Housing is one of the government's most pressing problems. While middle and upper-income housing is comparable to that in neighboring areas of North America, property for low-income groups are poor by any standard. In the year 2000, 6.5% percent owned their own property, 45.5% paid rent and 47.2 % were squatters. Squatter settlements surround the major cities of Jamaica. The Minister pointed to the disturbing fact that there are currently thousands of persons living on Government and privately owned lands. For the past five years or more the government under the Housing Acts as well as the Local Community Amenities Act" has been promising to give public squatters the opportunity to own a piece of land and a house - that is the rationale behind the Government and the National Housing Trust (NHT) who has decided to construct houses and relocate persons in three "squatter" communities.

One legal issue that was noted by several companies is the complexity of the land title process. Although purchasing and acquiring title to land can be done, it is often a long process than can delay project implementation. As such, most companies prefer to lease space rather than get involved in land ownership, unless the nature of the investment (e.g. resort development) would call for ownership. Concerns were also made about high transfer taxes on the assessment basis.

Sources: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition, Jamaica Gleaner Amnesty International July 7, 2001, Jamaica Investor Attitude Study Prepared By The Office Of Latin America And The Caribbean U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.


Financial institutions in Jamaica in 2000 included 6 commercial banks, 13 merchants bank, 3 development banks and 67 credit unions. The Jamaica Eximbank provides short-term insurance and financing to businesses. Commercial banks and credit unions have a finance department that provides loans and also offer checking accounts to citizens. While credit is available to citizens, collateral must be used to obtain a loan.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition


Telecommunication systems in Jamaica are considered good. Jamaica has two broadcasting companies, one public and one privately owned. The Government's broadcasting commission has the right to regulate programming during emergencies. Foreign television transmissions are unregulated and available through satellite antennas and cable service. In 1999 the country had 483 radio receivers (AM/FM) and 460 television sets for every 1,000 residents. There are over 363,000 main telephone lines and 64, 400 mobile cellular telephones in use. In, 2000, the island consisted of 21 Internet Service provided and 60,000 users. The Jamaican government has announced initiatives (such as school programs) that will greatly increase the demand for computers. There are also four daily newspapers and nineteen periodicals circulating across the island.

Source: www.tradeport.org/ts/countries/jamaica/sectors.html and The Europa World Book 2000


Jamaica's transportation sector is reasonably developed, however, the local transportation system is clearly considered one of the most serious problems in doing business in Jamaica. The intercity road network throughout the island is in serious need of upgrading, the large influx over the last few years of automobiles (particularly used Japanese cars), and a terribly inadequate mass transit system have made commuting to/from work, as well as movement of goods, extremely time consuming and frustrating. Traffic congestion in Kingston, the main business city, continues to get worse. Many of the U.S. investors make arrangements, at added expense, for transportation of workers through company-owned vans or by contracting private busing operators and guarantees speedy movement of persons and goods within and outside of the country. There exists roads and aerodromes at strategic points across the island that form an essential part of its domestic infrastructure; two international airports- the Sangster and Norman Manley International Airports (services to and within Jamaica are considered good); ten ports- the Port of Kingston is situated on Kingston Harbor, the world's seventh largest natural Harbor and strategically located on the north/south east/west axis through the Caribbean, approximately 32 miles from the trade routes passing through the Panama Canal. The railway system, which has been shut down since 1992, could alleviate some of the pressure, particularly on the transport of goods, if government plans to privatize the system are implemented. The North Coast highway project will eventually improve the connection between the main tourist areas (Negril-Montego Bay-Ocho Rios), but implementation has been slow, primarily because of the pace of Japanese funding for the project.

Sourcse: http://www.seaportsofjamaica.com/trans and Jamaica Investor Attitude Study Prepared By The Office Of Latin America And The Caribbean U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

8. EDUCATION (4.5)

Jamaica's estimated illiteracy rate for the year 2000 stands at 13.3% (males 17.5%; females 9.3%). The education system begins at age six and is compulsory for six years of primary education. At the secondary level, there are two stages, one of three years and one of four. School attendance by children between the ages of 6 and 11 is nearly universal, and 70.9% of all 12 to 18 year-olds attend secondary institutions. In 2000, the enrollment in secondary schools was 293,900 and teachers totaled 10,931. The Government in its continued drive to improve the standard of education has entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank for the financing of the Primary Education Support Program. The major objective of this project is to improve the performance and efficiency of the primary education systems through effective implementation of the revised primary curriculum and national assessment standards in all primary schools. A major institution of higher learning for the entire Caribbean region is the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (1948), located in Kingston; it has more than 5,000 students and a library with more than 450,000 volumes. Jamaica also has a number of vocational and technical schools, teacher-training colleges, and a college of arts, science, and technology. Numerous non-governmental organizations the YMCA, Woman, Inc., the Abilities Foundation, the Caribbean Christian School for the Deaf, Alpha Boys Home, and other governmental organizations now receive assistance from HEART Trust/NTA that empowers them to conduct training programs for their clientele.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition http://www.heart-nta.org/home/partnerships.htm


The disparity between rural and urban income levels has caused rural dwellers to move to the cities. Freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, repatriation and freedom of association are provided under the Constitution and the government respects them in practice. The wage differential in Jamaica, particularly between urban and rural areas, is probably the most alarming in the world. In 1999, the minimum wage was raised to J$30 per week. People who have a profession or skill receive over thirty times more than the unskilled. It is almost impossible to move from one income or social class without having access to foreign monies as a source of income. The project "SKILLS 2000" is a joint venture with the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Sport that began in 1996. This project is a part of the National Poverty Eradication Program and is aimed at increasing training opportunities for the poor and most vulnerable social groups. Training aimed at community enterprise development and income-generating projects is offered with lower admissions standards and shorter, more focused training programs. To date 36 projects have been implemented in seven parishes involving 2,300 participants.

Source: Jamaica - Consular Information Sheet, September 10, 2001 and http://www.heart-nta.org/home/partnerships.htm October 2001


Today, Jamaica has close relations with the US both through economic involvement and tourism. Jamaica also has a military agreement with the United States that assumes responsibility for the defense of Jamaica following the withdrawal of British forces.

Source: Leonard E. Barrett, writer, 'The Rastafarians' 1988 and www.jdfml.org


During 2000, there was a period of instability in the foreign exchange market, particularly during the period September through November. Measures taken to rectify the situation included the sale by the Bank of Jamaica of significant amounts into the FE market as well as upward adjustment in interest rates on Bank of Jamaica instruments. It is illegal to use any foreign currency when making purchases or doing business in Jamaica. Foreign currency can be legally exchanged at the airports, local banks or Western Unions. Across the island, however, businesses and citizens exchange foreign currency, particularly US dollars at a higher rate than offered through the legal institutions to obtain foreign currency for travel abroad, and tourist exchange foreign currency on the black market to get a better rate of exchange..

Source: Consular Information Sheet, September 10, 2001


Jamaica is one of the three islands in the Northern Caribbean forming the Greater Antilles. It stretches 146 miles from east to west and lies 90 miles to the South of Cuba and 100 miles to the South-west of Haiti. Jamaica has no disputes with neighboring countries, however, illicit drug transported from Central and S. America to North America and Europe and illicit cultivation of cannabis are issues. The Coast Guard, also known as the Maritime Wing is responsible for patrolling Jamaica's territorial waters, assisting in the fight against drug smuggling. Jamaica is a transit point for migrants including those seeking asylum to reach the US. As of September 1999, Jamaica hosted 25 recognized refugees most from Cuba and had granted humanitarian status to a number of others. There are many mandatory standards to which products must conform before they can be exported to Jamaica. The quarantine division inspects and determines standards in the case of live animals. Most raw materials and capital goods (except cement, steel and food items) are imported into Jamaica. Jamaica imposes additional import duties in addition to the Common External Tariff (CET) imposed by the CARICOM, in an effort to protect local agriculture.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition www.tradeport.org/ts/countries/jamaica/sectors.html

13. CURRENCY (4.5)

Jamaica's unit of currency is the dollar, consisting of 100 cents. During 2000, J$41.85 =U.S.$1. It is illegal to use any foreign currency when making purchases or doing business in Jamaica. Foreign currency can be legally exchanged at the airports, local banks or Western Unions.

Source: Personal


Jamaica's motto is "Out of Many, One People". This is the motto that unites the many different people of Jamaica, 97.7% of whom are of African and African-European descent. There are also 0.2% Chinese, 1.3% East Indian, 0.2% Europeans along with 0.6% other (immigrants from other Caribbean islands, Portuguese and German). Nearly the whole population is native-born Jamaican. In general Jamaicans are friendly, outgoing and very proud of their nation. Though English is the official formal language of the island, it is fascinating to listen to "Jamaican Talk", one, that emulates the "London standard" spoken by the elite and the other a mixture of English and African words, (Patois). There are over 100 Christian denominations active in Jamaica. Rastafarianism, an important influence in Jamaican culture, advocates racial equality and non-violence but causes controversy in its use of marijuana as a sacrament. Jamaicans keep a positive and carefree attitude toward life, answering many questions or inquiries with a "No Problem Mon" or an "Irie" - believing that its all going to work out and everything is OK!

Source: Personal


The last official census taken in 1991 indicated that 50.4% of Jamaica's population lives in rural areas while 49.6% lives in urban areas. It is very apparent that there are 'two Jamaicas' when you drive through its capital, Kingston. There is a very distinctive and clear physical separation from uptown (middle class, urbanized) and downtown (ghetto, very poor). Much of the country's public resources are projected towards the tourist areas as tourism contributes about 15% of the island's GDP. Over 30 years of rural to urban migration and the inability of the state to provide basic amenities fast enough has resulted in the creation of destitute urban and rural communities. As a part of its disaster management mandate, the government has responsibility to provide temporary relief for persons unable to continue their living arrangement in separate family units. For example during Hurricane Gilbert some 800,000 people were evacuated during the storm as their homes were in vulnerable areas. Some sought temporary shelter returning home after the hurricane, while several hundreds whose homes were damaged or destroyed had to be sheltered for months afterwards. Many public building such as the notable Carib Theater has been rebuild, but others still stand as they did the day Gilbert invaded the island.

Source: Personal


The island's institutions are considered relatively stable. A change in governing party does not create a change in its major institutions. The Bank of Jamaica, the central bank, acts as the government's banker and has done so for several years, the Jamaican judicial system is based on English common law and practice and consists of local courts, a Court of Appeal and a Supreme Court. Final appeals are made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom and Primary education is compulsory.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition


A majority of Jamaicans believe corruption is rampant in the society with the Government, the police force, the Customs Department, the justice system and the prisons heading the list of areas where the problem exists. The present governing party (PNP) has been involved with several scandals; first there was the Rollins Land Deal which was followed by the Zinc Scandal; and the Furniture Scandal, The Shell Waiver, the BOJ Foreign Exchange Scandal, the Motor Vehicle Importation Scandal, the Land Distribution Scandal, Operation Pride Scandal, the NWC Scandal and the Sand Mining Scandal. At the same time, some 83.3% of respondents to the Anderson poll felt the Government is not doing enough to fight corrupt practices on the island, while 15.6% felt the government programs were good and likely to get results. Parliament earlier this year enacted the Corruption Prevention Act, which requires that all public servants make annual declarations of their assets. This is aimed at turning the spotlight on public employees of those who sit on Government boards as a means of preventing them from engaging in corrupt practices. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics; however, they are underrepresented in government and politics. Women hold about 13 percent of all political offices and 30 percent of the senior civil service positions. Two of the 16 cabinet members are women. The majority of companies expressed satisfaction with the country's commercial legal system, noting the benefits of inheritance from the United Kingdom. Companies also expressed confidence in the judicial system to fairly settle commercial disputes, although often commented that the major drawback is the slowness of the process. Therefore, most companies would try to settle claims out of court to avoid lengthy legal proceedings. Few companies actually had current legal issues of concern.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner, 9-17-01, www.colis.com/jam-politics /publication/shame_scandals CIA-The World Factbook 2000

18. COMMON LAWS (2.0)

The social structure in Jamaica is unlike the pattern of social organization associated with many developing countries, as there are no clans, lineage, traditional village or village leaders. The Jamaican judicial system consists of local courts, a Court of Appeal and a Supreme Court. Final appeals are made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The political structure is dominated by a two-party system with the maintenance of power being largely dependent on the dispensation of patronage at the local level. This has led to the evolution of patron-client relationships that exert a strong influence on the allocation of resources of the district level, and distort the relationship between community leaders and the majority of residents. The administrative system is centralized with little power, responsibility and resources delegated to local government (parish councils). Parish Councils administer the local affairs of the parishes with most major decisions made from Kingston and St. Andrew. In the past, these factors have inhibited the formation of strong grassroots organizations and stifled attempts to foster greater local involvement in decision-making. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. However, members of the Rastafarian community have complained that law enforcement officials unfairly target them. It is alleged that the police force Rastafarian detainees to cut their hair and surreptitiously give them food that they are forbidden to eat. Rastafarians have no right to prison visits by Rastafarian clergy. The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex. The Government largely enforces these prohibitions in practice, except for widespread discrimination on the basis of political opinion in the distribution of scarce governmental benefits, including employment. Individuals have committed acts of violence against suspected homosexuals. Social and cultural traditions perpetuate violence against women, including spousal abuse. Violence against women is widespread, but many women are reluctant to acknowledge or report abusive behavior, leading to wide variations in estimates of its extent. No laws mandate accessibility for the disabled, and disabled citizens have encountered discrimination in employment and denial of access to schools. This situation poses a challenge for efforts at achieving sustainable livelihoods. The frustration imposed by the local political structure leads to resistance to the established "social order" and the development of coping and adapting strategies at the household level.

Source: www.jsdnp.org.jm/jam4.html/jamaica country profile, CIA-The World Factbook 2000

19. CENTRAL BANK (4.0)

The Bank of Jamaica, the central bank, acts as the government's banker and is authorized to act as agent for the government in the management of the public debt. It also issues and redeems currency, administers Jamaica's external reserves, oversees private banks and influences the volume and conditions of the supply of credit. In the 1990s, the government's price liberalization policies created a rise in the inflation rate. Economic instability revealed the relationship between the central bank and the government's drawdown of its deposits. Since that time, the government has discretionarily given greater autonomy to the central bank and transferred its operational revenue and expenditure accounts to commercial banks.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition


For FY 1999/2000, the fiscal deficit of $12.6 billion or 4.5% of GDP, was a 34.2% improvement relative to the previous fiscal year, expenditure of $103.2 billion exceeded Budget by $4.1 billion and tax revenue totaled $76.0 billion. Although receipts were 3.8% below Budget they were 13.5% higher than that for FY 1998/99. This reflected the impact of the new tax measures and increased tax compliance. The Government of Jamaica sharply reduced the overall public sector deficit to 0.4% of GDP in FY91/92. In FY92/93 the deficit turned into a surplus of 2.2% of GDP. Tax revenues amounted to about 26% of GDP. Large wage awards granted to selected groups of government employees (especially police and teachers) in 1993 created considerable budgetary pressure. The net cost of these awards was estimated to be 5.5% of GDP in FY93/94. To help keep public finances in surplus, the government adopted a tax package in June 1993, to increase the rates and coverage of indirect taxes and fees. According to the World Bank, its estimated yield of 4.6% of GDP in FY93/94 would substantially, but not completely, cover the cost of the wage increases. Tax administration suffers from, tax collections made from a narrow tax base, the poor performance of tax departments particularly in assessment and collection at the operational level, voluntary compliance is low; the cost of compliance is high and due to weak enforcement, the risk of getting caught for tax evasion is minimal. The combined effect of these factors is that revenue collection is well below potential.

Source: Worldbank, Jamaica Tax Administration Reform Project


Jamaica is one of the most indebted islands in the Caribbean. Debt servicing accounts for about 62% of the fiscal budget. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $1.39 billion and external debt totaled $4 billion. The high real interest rates and a declining GDP have resulted in a ballooning of the debt--in excess of 140% of GDP at the end of March 2001. Of the recurrent budget of $106.4 billion, interest payments account for $48.5 billion or 45.5%. According to the World Bank, the external debt payments are higher due to increased borrowings on international capital markets and additional loans from multilateral creditors to finance the rehabilitation of the financial sector. The government has embarked on a program in which the exchange rate has stabilized and inflation was reduced to around 8% in 2000. Through expenditure containment and strong revenue measures the central government deficit has been further reduced, from 4.2% of GDP in 1999/00 to 1.0% of GDP in 2000/01. Although Jamaica has made measurable progress in stabilizing the economy since the mid-1990s, the economy has not yet returned to a path of sustained growth.

Sources: www.investjamaica.com and http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/external/lac/lac.nsf/jamaica


The Statistical Institute of Jamaica, government organization responsible for the collection and maintenance of data (fiscal and otherwise) is equipped with the expertise in sampling methodology, questionnaire design and data analysis. It has the reputation for being one of the leading agencies in the provision of statistical data in the Caribbean. The statistical information is reliable, however, current information is not always published but is available in-house in an unpublished format and for a fee. To be maintained the support and assistance of the entire population, the productive sector - public and private, formal and informal, are used to obtain accurate data on a timely basis. Research is conducted on trade data, consumer prices, population and housing data, annual national accounts data (retail prices collected for a selection or basket of goods and services are available for Kingston Metropolitan Area, Rural Area and other towns). "Unpublished information from the government Census including information on Population Characteristics and Housing and Household Characteristics at the enumeration district, special areas, constituency, parish and country levels, is also available".

Source: Employee of STATIN-Statistical Institute of Jamaica


The government conducts a broad public health program involving epidemic control, health education, industrial health protection and campaign against tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and malaria. Because of the public health programs, the death rate has decreased to 5.48 per 1000 people and the infant mortality rate 14.16 per 1,000 live births. Tuberculosis, hookworm and venereal diseases remain the most prevalent diseases. Children up to one year old are immunized as follows: tuberculosis 97%, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus 90%, polio 90% and measles 88%. In rural parts of Jamaica, however, children are not likely to be immunized. Throughout Jamaica, there are 364 government-operated primary health centers offering five levels of service, 23 public hospital, 9 small hospitals, 517 doctors and 1,836 registered nurses. Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, tenth edition


Jamaica has one of the widest income differentials in the world, with Executives earning close to 100 times the salary of the lowest worker. In 1999, the minimum wage was $30 (US) per week, although most salaried workers earned more than the minimum. The wages for the lower, middle and working class Jamaicans is probably the lowest in the English speaking Caribbean. This is evident by the migration of teachers, nurses and other professionals to other Caribbean islands.

There are ten principal independent unions on the island. The two major trade unions are closely identified with the country's two main political parties, the National Workers' Union with the PNP and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union with the JLP. The third would be the Trade Union Congress. The combined membership of unions in 2000 was 15% of those employed. Unions are not allowed in the Free Trade Zones and the working class in these zones work for much less. The ability to strike is neither authorized nor prohibited by law and strikes do occur. The government rarely interferes with union organizing or bargaining efforts and it effectively enforce laws that prohibit discrimination against workers for their union activities. The NIS program, financed by both employer and employees, provide benefits in the form of old age and disability, pensions, workers' compensation, widows'/widower compensation and social security. Labor legislation covers such items as national insurance, employment of nationals, hours of work, minimum wages, employment of women and youths, apprenticeship, and factory conditions. All of these policies may seem pro-worker, but in reality the average Jamaican finds it difficult to make ends meet.

Sources: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations Americas, 10th edition 2000 and B. Williams, former JDF member


The Ministry of Health and Environmental Control, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, the governmental agencies responsible for the management, conservation and protection of Jamaica's natural resources, have in fact implemented several measures to maintain and protect the environment. In the 1980s several plants were opened in an attempt to decrease pollution, a large solar water-heating plant, a power plant using solar energy and an ethanol plant using sugarcane as raw material. International environment agreements include Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution and Wetlands. The Coast Guard unit, also the national coordinator for containment and recovery of oils and other hazardous spills works to maintain these agreement and prevent pollution. Jamaica's most troubling environmental problems, however, involve water quality and solid waste management. Over half of the population living in rural areas and 5% of city dwellers do not have constant running water much less pure water. Sewage, oil spills, industrial wastes and the mining of bauxite, heavy rates of deforestation, damage to coral reefs and air pollution from vehicle emissions have polluted coastal waters. The importing of cars, foreign foods and foreign restaurants that use recyclable and non-recyclable containers and the burning of rubbish have caused Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, to have a waste disposal and vehicular pollution problem typical of a densely populated urban area. While in Jamaica, one can now look to the sky and see a layer of smog that did not previously exist. The nation's cities produce 0.3 million tons of solid waste per year and yet have not instituted a recycling program. The gullies that are used to capture water are packed with plastic bottles, cardboard containers, glass and trash.

Source: www.cia.gov/publications/factbook/geos/jm.html and Personal

26. STRONG ARMY (2.0)

The Jamaica Defense Force, formed in 1962, and consisting of a military agreement with the United States assumed responsibility for the defense of Jamaica following the withdrawal of British forces. The JDF comprises of three Infantry battalions (one a reserve unit), the JDF Air Wing, the JDF Coast Guard, one Engineering battalion and one Support battalion. The Coast Guard carries out joint training with visiting foreign vessels and operates an international radio station on a 24-hour basis, monitoring all international distress frequencies. The military manpower available in 2000, males 15-49, was 736,627. The total defense force in 2000 numbered 3,780 personnel, and 950 reserves. Designed for minimal defense missions, the armed forces are normally grouped together in operations to form a potent fighting force. Between 1983 and 1985, the JDF served as part of the coalition of regional forces that restored democracy to Grenada and in 1994 served for the first time under the flag of the United Nations as part of the US-led force that entered Haiti to assist in the restoration of democracy. There are no significant external security threats to the island nation. Its primary external threats are illegal drugs (Jamaica is a major cocaine trans-shipment hub) and illegal fishing in its territorial waters, particularly the Pedro Banks. In light of Jamaica's alliance with the UN and US it appears that should the island encounter attack, assistance would be readily available.

Source: www.jdfml.org and B. Williams, former JDF member


According to 2000 World Factbook, Jamaica's total export is estimated to be US $1.7 billion (US 35.7%, EU -excluding UK 15.8%, UK 13% and Canada 10.5%). Estimated imports are US $3 billion (US 47.8%, EU-excluding UK- 4.7%, CARICOM countries 12.4%, and Latin America 7.2%). The GDP purchasing power parity is estimated to be -$9.7 billion, GDP real growth rate 0.2%, and GDP per capita purchasing power parity -$3,700. In the year 2000, total exports and imports are expected to yield $4.7 billion US dollars that amounts to 48% of the GDP.

The United States remains Jamaica's primary trading partner. In 1995 total imports from the US grew to US $1.49 billion, representing over 50% of Jamaica's total imports. "Because the island has become so heavily dependent on imported goods and due to the devaluation of the Jamaican currency, the cost of imported goods have gone up to citizens and as a result, the economy today is much more under the control of foreigners. This is not necessarily through direct ownership but through the mechanism of debt. In the 1970s, Jamaica owed US $800 million, 1980s US $4 billion and presently Jamaica owes US $7 billion and the capacity to export is getting less".

Source: CIA-The World Factbook 2000- Jamaica and Dr. M. Witter, Professor of Economics


The government offers a wide range of incentives, including tax holidays up to a maximum of 10 years and duty-free concessions on raw materials and capital goods for approved incentive periods. Bauxite and aluminum make up fifty-five percent of Jamaica's exporting goods. By early 1987, when 120 US companies operated in Jamaica, cumulative US investment, excluding the bauxite industry, was over US $1 billion. There are no statuary restrictions on sectors open to foreign investment, but in practice most service industries are reserved for Jamaicans. The government has initiated actions that are intended to encourage investment in a number of areas such as those that generate foreign exchange, utilize domestic raw materials and generate employment. Several acts that provide major benefits for foreign investors, such as the Industrial Incentives Act, the Export Industries Encouragement Act and the Hotel Incentives Act are in existence. Additionally, since the liberalization of exchange controls in September 1991, investors are free to repatriate without prior approval from the Bank of Jamaica. The US and Jamaica continue to uphold a very vital trade relationship. Free trade zones as well as taxation zones (government owned and managed) have been established to persuade more investments.

Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations Americas, 10th edition 2000


The difference between exported goods and imports in 2000 is negative US $1.3 billion. Although Jamaica does not presently have a long-term development plan with the IMF, in the past, the government relied on loans from the IMF to finance external account deficits. Jamaica has a huge, worsening trade deficit, due in large part to the deregulation of the economy. Jamaica is heavily dependent on imports for oil, food equipment, etc. With the onset of deregulation and the dramatic reduction of customs duties on imports as a major source of government income, the vast majority of multinational companies closed their plants and opted to import instead.

Source: CIA-The World Factbook 2000- Jamaica and Personal Experience.


The island of Jamaica is made up of fourteen administrative divisions called parishes. Jamaica's government is considered a constitutional parliamentary democracy. Responsibility for local government is vested in 12-parish councils and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, which represent the merger of two parishes. Since 1947, all of the councils have been fully elected by the people, although the members of the House of Representatives from each parish are ex-officio members of the councils. Elections are normally held every three years on the basis of universal adult suffrage and local government authorities are responsible for public health and sanitation, poor relief, water supply, minor roads, and markets and fire services. Revenues come largely from land/property taxes, supplemented by large grants from the central government.

Source: The Europa World Book 2000


The government in its efforts to control money supply and inflation have implemented a high interest rate that has caused private capital to be channeled into government papers, CD, treasury Bills and Bonds, where it has been earning interest of 20 to 30 percent (much higher in former years). Small entrepreneurs find it difficult to compete with imports, resulting in a proclivity for trading rather than engaging in productive enterprises. This has decimated the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Since coming in office in 1992, Prime Minister Patterson has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Continued tight monetary and fiscal policies have helped slow inflation and stabilization of the exchange rate has also occurred. Since 1984, a number of development organizations such as the Planning Institute of Jamaica which monitors performance of the economy and the social sector and publishes development plans and social surveys and the Urban Development Corp. which is responsible for urban renewal and development within designated areas have been established to attract businesses in Jamaica. Office buildings, shopping plazas, hotels, resort properties and farms owned by financial institutions are now being divested. Jamaica Eximbank also provides working capital assistance for small businesses and local currency loans are available directly through commercial banks and other financial institutions. In 1996, loan limits were increased to J$5 million ($147,000 US) for exporters and J$4 million for non-exporters.

Source: www.nlj.org.jm.html B. Williams former JDF member


According to the World Factbook economy overview, since coming in office in 1992, the Prime Minister has privatized several government enterprises in order to support the country's financial sector. The National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ) is the agency responsible for administering the privatization of several entities that are owned by the government of Jamaica. The US continues to play a leading role in foreign investment and has acquired control of Jamaica's only flour manufacturer, Jamaica Flour Mills for $35 million in late 1996. A number of US companies (mainly fast foods) have also entered the Jamaican market through franchises or distributorship arrangements. The Free Trade Zone which was developed by the US and Jamaican government was designed to assist the Jamaican government in paying back loans. It is however operated as a state within a county; 100% of the products are from the US and are building materials only used for assembling garments-none of the money gained from these business are spent in Jamaica.

Source: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/jm.html 9-01


As a member of the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is known, the Council's first action is usually to try to reach peaceful agreement. It also sends United Nations peace-keeping forces to help reduce tensions in troubled areas, keep opposing forces apart and create conditions of calm in which peaceful settlements may be required. The Council also decides on enforcement measures, economic sanctions (such as trade embargoes) or to take collective military action against an aggressor. In 1981, the Prime Minister who supported closer political and economic links with the USA and the promotion of free enterprise severed diplomatic relations with Cuba and secured US financial support for the economy as well as IMF assistance. Jamaica also has diplomatic representation with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Germany Haiti and Panama. Although Jamaica remains a member of the Commonweath of Nations, the country's political, social and economic ties have shifted toward participation in Latin America, Caribbean and third-world international organizations. Presently, Jamaica has no international disputes, however, illicit drug-transported from Central and South America to North America and Europe and illicit cultivation of cannabis are issues the government and Security Council have implemented an active manual eradication program for.

Source: www.jdfmil.org/


Jamaica has a body of labor legislations designed to protect its workers; Workers Compensation, Education Tax, HEART and NHT, which are not rigidly enforced outside of unionized companies. In the Free Trade Zones, for instance, many workers complain that these taxes are taken from their pay and when the time comes to collect on these taxes, the government has no record of receiving taxes from foreign companies in the Free Trade Zones.

The importance of customs duties as a major source of government income is declining and most imports are duty free. Some goods entering Jamaica are subject to customs duties ranging from 0-25% and the General Consumption Tax (GCT) of 15% (excluding zero-rated or specifically exempted items). CARICOM-Originating goods entering Jamaica are not subject to customs duties. In addition, a stamp duty is levied on motor vehicles, alcohol, and tobacco of 25% to 56%; as well as a special consumption tax of 5% to 39.9%. Drugs, pharmaceuticals and other needed items on the island have been exempted from the CET and GCT taxes. The Export Industry Encouragement Act (EIEA) is designed to encourage export manufacturing to hard currency (non-CARICOM) markets). All production must be exported. The company is granted exemption from income tax as well as exemption from import duties on raw materials and machinery for ten years. Partial exporter must export a ceiling of 5% of their production to non-CARICOM markets to qualify for concessions under this scheme.



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