Economics/Class Relations

Shaping Jamaica’s economic independence: The role of SEZs

By Ainsley Brown, The Gleaner

Economic independence is a stated policy objective of the Government of Jamaica, as it should be. Which well-thinking Jamaican doesn’t want the personal and national freedom and capacity to shape one’s own socio-economic fortunes?

But what exactly is economic independence?

Let’s first cover what it isn’t. It is not isolation or going it alone. We live in an interdependent world and as a small island developing state, we appreciate more than most that our very survival depends on our connectedness to the world.

Now for what it is. Economic independence, to borrow from the definition of sustainability, is designing and implementing economic policies that seek to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Therefore, the economic independence policy position of the Government of Jamaica, GOJ, is to manage the economic affairs of the nation in a sustainable way, meeting our current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. In fact, Jamaica’s economic independence initiative goes further by pursuing policies that enhance its future economic capabilities and opportunities.

Jamaica’s drive for economic independence, as the special economic zones, or SEZ regime, demonstrates, improves not just the number but the nature of the options, giving us greater assets in the game of global competitiveness, a game defined by global economic governance, or GEG, rules. This is a game Jamaica neither created nor set its rules, but it is nevertheless a game we must play. One of the things that makes this game such a challenge to play is that not only did we not set the rules, attempts to improve your position may draw sanction.

As a Jamaican proverb goes: ‘Donkey say worl’ no level’.

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