Winston Donald is a Fine Art Gallery Operator, Cultural Practitioner and Newspaper Columnist.
The call to buy Jamaican because it provides jobs and has multiple effects is the right call. It is one in which spending on our own creations and products provides income which can be committed to consumption and to saving which by itself is critical for investment. However, consumer will and should be spending wise and consumption savvy in our expenditure in this economy .
While Jamaica needs manufacturing to spearhead its economic recovery, the consumer must be borne in mind. Jamaica is one of the few countries in the Caribbean where consumers have for years been taken for a ride. At most our people have been forced to pay high prices for the average basket of goods and services which at times makes abnormal profits for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.
Prior to the liberalization of the economy and importation of certain goods to compete in the market space prices at certain stores have been astronomical . The working class is always at the receiving end as most of them do not possess the coveted US visa to shop in the United States where genuine competition and sales exist. So while we are called to be patriotic, it will fell on deaf ears if prices are not fair and competitive. Of course , isn’t that the essence of a laissez faire economy?
This also played out (the unfairness) of prces in the book industry. The Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education obviously realized , albeit late, that the book industry is a monopoly. I for know that some of those in the industry , especially in the 90’s would use their class positions, wealth and connection to buy in advance books that are used by poor people, “jack up” the price and consumers left paying prices which are artificial and unjust. If the book industry believe this is not the case, then let them dispute my article. Personally, I am convinced that they do not have the credibility to dispute.
Business people must realize Jamaica is a changed country, it has a changed business climate influenced globally and by the dynamics of the international business community. As one who is a small manufacturer of gourmet products, I realized that over priced items will defeat my own entrepreneurial acumen. Let us call upon our people to support us because business is the only thing that can take us out of the economic quagmire , but for heaven sake let us not profiteer at the expense of the masses , else one day it might just fly into our faces and lead to a road of revolution. And this is not impossible as in 1983 Tunisia went to near anarchy over the increase in the prices of bread by one cent.
Patriotism has a price but it is not the support of over price for the benefit of some or a few.
Disclaimer - The views expressed above do not necessarily reflect the views of FJN or it's editorial staff.