Jamaica LANDS
Left Alliance for National Democracy and Socialism

Opinion Pieces

These are opinion pieces, written by members of the party. They may or may not reflect the official position of the party.

Auditing Jamaica's Debt

Jamaica has a high level of debt, pardon me for stating the blatantly obvious, but just to hammer home that point let me state that Jamaica's debt to GDP ratio is at the rate of 115%. In other words, each Jamaican citizen individually owes a total of roughly $800,000 (JMD). This lofty level of indebtedness has taken a toll on our nation, exemplified by the fact that we have had to take on stringent IMF regulations to get by, and the fact that borrowing on the international stage is now rather taxing, but the most damning thing about all of our debt is that we really have nothing to show for it.

The billions in debt that the state (which includes us individuals) has to repay and honour is in need of auditing. The fact of the matter is that (and I'm only speaking of the 1980's onwards) for all of the billions owed our nation is too underdeveloped. Monies that was borrowed for bridge building in Parish X disappears and the bridge is not there, money borrowed for road repairs vanishes and the roads are left to further cave in. Money that we can’t afford to pay back is borrowed to upgrade jail cells to move them out of the mid-19th Century is not accounted for and the jails remain like dungeons.

The majority of the money owed was borrowed because the state wished to 'improve the lives of its citizens’, and yet here we are 37 years after the economy was returned to pure capitalism and a willing credit market (the little social democratic initiatives initiated by Manley were almost all killed off by the successive administrations) with nothing to show for it except an ungodly level of debt, poor infrastructure, and sub-par social services. Meanwhile our politicians and certain well-connected individuals continue to gain wealth.

Jamaican society at large has received little benefit from this borrowed money and should not be expected to foot the bill. We should demand a forensic audit of this debt (or as much of it that can be audited) so we can find out just where the money went and most importantly, who has/had it. Now I'm not of the opinion that the guilty parties once found out would (or even could) pay back the money, but it would be a massive start, it would show that theft from the state is no longer something to turn a blind eye to and it would also send a strong message to those who wish to dip into the public purse for their own benefits.

We are in over our heads when it comes to this debt, full repayment is simply not an option if we wish to live in a nation resembling anything near half decent, it is a massive handicap. The audit of our borrowed money (who got it, what was it used for and the terms of the loan) would be a most important step in either wiping away our debt (something we should be heavily lobbying for) or at the very least in shaving away some of the debt, that is only possible with an audit.

I will reiterate that the people have not benefited from this borrowed money, and unless and until a full forensic audit is done on our debt quite frankly we should consider refusing to pay our taxes (which only go to debt service) and demand that a closer look at our debt is carried out.

Alexander Scott