Corona – Blessing in disguise?

Workers

The coronavirus pandemic has come upon us as a thief in the night. The media and government agencies have been very clear about the negative implications of the spread of this virus. But seeing that we depend on imports for most of our retail and raw materials, what can we do for the future to mitigate such drastic shutdown of our economy?

1. First, this is an eye-opener for all of Jamaica. We depend heavily on imports, thus, when there is a disaster in China or the US, it creates a domino effect on the entire world that has vastly affected the livelihood of everyone here in Jamaica.

2. Second, the private and public sectors have been very integral in accommodating and assisting everyone by being socially responsible. It has been clear that we are all trying to be our brother’s keeper in this crisis. Inherently, the Government must be applauded for the proactive work that has been done to educate the populous about the prevention and containment of the virus.

Albeit, there is much that can be done to alleviate some of the strains we face to improve our lives, our sustainability during a crisis, and to become more resilient.

ACTIONS

- Under no circumstance should Jamaica be importing so many products, such as sanitisers and some toiletries. We do possess the capabilities to manufacture these ourselves. There are accredited and capable organisations that can produce these items.

- After the aftermath, there needs to be an assessment of all the goods and services we can produce to be more self-reliant, which will, in turn, strengthen our economy, increase the value of our currency, and lessen the dependency of foreign goods and services.

- The prime minister can look to the small and medium enterprises to fill some of the gaps that we have with regard to essentials, such as food and services.

- There has to be some form of regulation and assistance for the implementing and harnessing of solar energy, as Jamaica has been blessed with the presence of the sun regularly.

- There needs to be fewer monies leaving the country to buy foreign exchange, as most foreign investors take their dividends and profits to their country. This creates a strain on the Jamaican economy, as the little that is made is being withdrawn and taken elsewhere; not spent here to circulate and strengthen the local economy.

- There needs to be a nationwide education campaign for persons to get with the programme of doing online transactions. The banking system needs to be more user-friendly and easier to navigate for persons to engage with the interface. There are many occasions where consumers have expressed fear of online banking because of hackers. However, banking institutions need to encourage and assist the customer with the usage of the online platforms to discourage in-bank services that can be done online. Everyone who owns a bank account should be able to do online transactions.

THE ESSENCE

In essence, regulating energy-essential mediums, such as solar power, increasing local production of essentials, and increasing technology along with user-friendly products and features, will encourage the entire Jamaica to be self-sustainable and will stand strong in times of crisis.

Let Jamaica be one of the first Caribbean countries to use this as a motivation and guide to be better prepared for the next crisis. Remember: It’s not if it will come, but rather, when it comes.

LAURENE WARD

Tourism major,

The University of the West

Indies

 

Published Monday | March 16, 2020 on Jamaica Gleaner Online