The Development Challenge
Jamaica must achieve sustainable economic growth in order to eliminate the root causes of crime and violence. Even though poverty has decreased substantially over the past 20 years, this is attributed more to the impact of migrants’ sending money home as opposed to any economic growth. At the end of 2002, the country’s debt had reached 140.3% of GDP.
The percentage of government revenue used to service debt remained essentially unchanged at 63% as compared to the previous year, an indicator of the stifling impact of debt on the government’s ability to invest in today’s citizens and the leaders of tomorrow. Furthermore, extremely high interest rates on the government’s domestic debt are stifling other more productive economic activity. Meanwhile, the government continues to grapple with ways to control sharp exchange rate fluctuations, while working to reduce the potential negative impact of inflation (12.2% in October 2003 versus 6.7% one year before).