JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said that servicing the island’s US$14 billion (J$995 billion) debt has had a crippling effect on the Government’s ability to adequately fund critical public services, including health and education.
Addressing Jamaicans in Manchester on May 22, he said the island had to spend more than US$200 million each year servicing the debt.
“Every single day of the week, we have to pay more that 700 million Jamaican dollars to service the debt. So, before we can discharge the obligation for which people voted for us, we have to service this debt and so there is a limit on how much we can spend on doing the things people voted for us to do,” the Prime Minister said.
“We have had to juggle,” he told the audience, adding that Jamaica had a good record for never defaulting on its debt payments. However, Mr. Golding said while this was a good record to have, the consequence of that burden of debt was heavy and has been one of the root causes of the country’s high crime rate, as it has led to a neglect of many vulnerable communities.
He pointed out that the neglect of these communities has meant that many young people have grown up without hope and are leaving school without skills and are under-educated. This kind of despair, Mr. Golding said, could distort their minds and self esteem and their social situation becomes an incubator for crime and they become vulnerable to the criminal gangs.
Describing this as a vicious cycle, the Prime Minister said to put in the programmes to raise these communities out of poverty needed investment and this investment could be affected by the levels of crime.Mr. Golding stressed that the only way to reduce the debt burden “is to work our way out of it by providing the investment that will create jobs.”
“We are between a rock and hard place,” he said, adding that the country had too much inner strength and resilience and would emerge out of the difficulties.
Mr. Golding, who has been in the UK since May 19, has been speaking to Jamaicans across the United Kingdom at community meetings. He has also visited areas where many Jamaicans live and work.
He had high praise for UK-based Jamaicans and thanked them for their continued passion, commitment and support of their homeland.
The Prime Minister returns to the island on May 25.

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