“Jamaica at Crossroads of Political and Economic Change?”
Jamaica has never been at war; yet it has never seen peace. Years of internal political rivalry, discord among individuals and family feuds have left their scars on the politics and economy of the country, which today, more than ever before are poised for positive change, according to Joe Issa, executive chairman of Cool Corporation.
One such change he said is a more leveled political playing field where everybody has to play by the same rules with no one having any advantage over the other which, in the past has caused some politicians to go to any extreme to regain or maintain the advantage over their opponents in the high-stakes business of politics.
“After this election a significant weapon in the armory of politics will have been removed — the ability of the ruling party to call election at will. With a fixed date for every general election, the party in power can no longer taunt and intimidate the opposition with a looming call while creating uncertainty in the country, which is a recipe for more disturbances and withdrawal of investment plans by businesses and individuals,” Issa argues.
In addition, the threat of intimidation by deep-pocket politicians and their party to put all that they have into fighting election will no longer work with the passage of law that limits the amount each politician and party can spend on election campaign, he informs.
Also of equal significance, politicians can no longer hide their contributors behind closed doors now that they are required to reveal names and amounts contributed. In the past, some politicians have tended to accept contributions from notorious citizens, as well as main street persons and businesses, leaving them with a debt to repay when they get into power.
“The new dispensation makes bribery more conspicuous and less attractive as a fund-raising tool to run elections, and where there are bribes, there are paybacks, sooner or later,” says Issa, who has publicly advocated for paying politicians more money to dissuade them from taking bribes.
On the economy side, significant strides have been made towards balancing the budget and reducing the nation’s stock of debt. Important sums have also been raised on the international market and the multilateral community is back in Jamaica’s corner, with signs of growth beginning to emerge, after nearly three years into a four-year economic reform programme with the IMF.
“If all of these seem too good to be true, it’s because they are, this time; and all that have been achieved need to be preserved and improved upon as it took a lot of sacrifice on the part of Jamaicans to get where we’re at.
“I’m confident, though, that given the political maturity already shown by those two pieces of legislation alone, along with the continued urging by the private sector, the new administration, whichever it is, will steer the right course to growth and prosperity, which have eluded the country for decades,” Issa posits.