Development in Jamaica
Reasons for Lack of Development
Jamaica is one of the middle-income earners with the largest population among the Caribbean countries. The country has been struggling economically recording negative growth as a result of inflation. Among the main reasons why economic development in the country has been stunted is the uncontrolled increase in population, illiteracy, and unemployment. The country inhabits about 2.7 million people with more than 50% of this population living below the poverty line (Van, Ottens & Schueller, 2012). As such, these people occupy the slum areas while others opt to lead sedentary lives in the villages. Since this kind of people cannot afford amenities like hospitals and schools, they are prone to infectious diseases due to poor sanitation.
High illiteracy levels also contribute to the lack of growth in Jamaica. Most people have no access to schools due to limited institutions that offer free education. As such, many end up engaging in crime while others result in illegal activities such as smuggling drugs.
Unemployment and Crime
Illiteracy is connected to unemployment with youth unemployment at 30% and hence high crime rate. Most adolescents engage in criminal behaviors to make a living (Van, Ottens & Schueller, 2012). As such, unemployment contributes to increased poverty level, which stands at 16.5%. Consequently, the crime rate forces the elite people to migrate to safer towns increasing the gap between the poor and the rich. As well, learned people are also constantly in the movement to seek employment in neighboring countries. The outcome of these activities is stunted economic growth.
Poor governance is a key obstacle in development in Jamaica. The former Jamaican government systems have been coated with corruption and hence misuse of available resources including foreign aid. Corruption also contributes to poor management resulting in lack of schools and unequipped hospitals. As well, the government is associated with political instabilities thus scaring away potential investors. As such, unemployment levels continue to rise.
Lack of Natural Resources
Apart from poor governance, Jamaica relies mostly on bauxite mining, tourism (accounts for 70% income) and agriculture for foreign income (Auerbach et al., 2013). Therefore, the income generated is never enough to foster development. Most of the money generated is used for imports including oil and food. Consequently, the country relies on loans for development funds thus accumulating high public debts. As such, part of the generated foreign income is also used to pay up debts leaving no money for development.
For Jamaica to overcome the obstacle to development, the country needs to regulate the population growth through the provision of reproductive health education. As such, teenage pregnancies can be avoided and hence retain more girls in school. As well, family planning alternatives should be made readily available for mothers in reproductive ages (Auerbach et al., 2013). The other initiative the government should invest in is the exploration of other resources to increase foreign exchange income. For instance, the country should explore its Aluminum and petroleum sectors to increase foreign exchange. Additionally, the government should reduce the borrowing and instead utilize the available resources economically. Therefore, agriculture for food crops should be enhanced to avoid exporting food and use the money elsewhere. Consequently, the public debt to GDP ratio, which is currently standing at 150% will be reduced (Auerbach et al., 2013).
Despite the stunted economic growth, Jamaica has been developing plans to enhance the growth. The current government has come up with some initiatives to promote positive economic growth. To reduce the public debt, there have been talks between Jamaica and financial institutions to help the country in paying up the debts. As well, the establishment of national development plan ‘Jamaica vision 2030’ is aimed at making Jamaica the country of choice to live and work (Mitchell, 2016). Some of the interventions include the elimination of rigid entrepreneurship regulations to increase the rate of investment as well as allow locals to conduct business without paying high taxes. Also, the country is a beneficiary of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides health education to reduce disease epidemics. UNIFPA is primarily involved in creation equal opportunities for both men and women hence promoting independence (Mitchell, 2016).
What needs to be done
The government should oversee the projected plan to ensure it is managed properly to avoid collapsing. As such, any forms of corruption should not be condoned to enhance the progress of the plans to achieve the objectives they are intended for. In addition, the government should be ready to invest in infrastructure. Most developed countries have the best infrastructure regarding transport and communication (Mitchell, 2016). As such, Jamaica should also use available resources to improve their transport and communication networks. Apart from that, the government should be in the first line in fighting obstacles that inhibit economic development. By so doing, the country will have a smaller population of educated people who are economically productive. Crime in Jamaica is a major contributor to the lack of development. Thus, the government should reduce crime through enhancing youth education and the creation of jobs. For youths who have completed education, they should be kept busy in technical institutes to prevent them from engaging in criminal activities (Mitchell, 2016).