How Jamaica Pulled Off An Economic Revolution After Being Among Most Indebted Developing Countries

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Jamaica economic revolution

Jamaica is literally the land of my father. When people think of it, they envision its colorful people, tasty cuisine, reggae music, lush greenery and beautiful beaches. But, as the daughter of Sturdy Aull Harrison, I know firsthand the economic hardships the island and its people have faced over the years.

That’s why I was overjoyed when I read the article, “Jamaica has made an ‘extraordinary’ economic turnaround” in the Miami Herald. Written by World Bank VP for Latin America and the Caribbean Axel Van Trotsenburg, the article says the island – once among the most indebted countries in the world – has made great progress on a macroeconomic level.

Citing feats like 16 consecutive quarters of positive economic growth and the Jamaica Stock Exchange going up more than 380 percent, Trotsenburg lauded Jamaica’s upward financial trajectory. Fitch Ratings Agency underscored his opinion when it upgraded the island’s ratings to a grade of B in January.

The gains come after decades of financial turmoil for the island. Jamaica has needed constant support in the form of “rescue packages” to stay afloat in the past – and its everyday working people have suffered greatly.

Yet, according to Trotsenburg, a commitment across political parties, a strong public outcry for change and the backing of the private sector have helped the island nation begin to rebound fiscally.

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He admits they are not out of the woods yet, however, because the success experienced at the macrolevel needs to trickle down to the microlevel.

Jamaica economic revolution

“For this silent revolution to continue and bring greater prosperity to all its people, Jamaica will need to further boost the investment climate, strengthen economic and climate resilience and invest more in its people to build human capital,” Trotsenburg wrote.

I couldn’t agree more. I vividly remember being in a state of constant duress because my father was in need and my siblings and I were all trying to support him as well as our own families and lifestyles. I remember him trying – and failing – to find work. It was an issue we dealt with until his death last November. And when we went down for the funeral in December, I saw the same poverty I’ve always seen when I visit.

How awesome it would be if the government makes a concerted effort to ensure all of the Jamaican people have the opportunity to experience its newfound financial stability – even those who are often considered the least of these.

Trotsenburg believes the Jamaican government is taking the necessary steps to make this happen. I hope he’s right. Jamaica’s motto is “Out of many, one people.” When it comes to economic prosperity, I’d like to see them keep that same energy.