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Prime Minister Andrew Holiness

My Jamaican friend, who had fled her country for a better life in Trinidad and Tobago, has returned for good to her homeland.
“Everything get real bad inna dis place,” she told me before she chucked her minimum wage job and travelled back to Kingston.
She had come to this country with prospects of a better quality of life; relatives and friends called T&T “the New York of the Caribbean.”
But she was never able to secure a post to match her skills, and faced long hours and pressure from the boss at her menial job.
“Things getting betta inna Jamaica,” she said, with a smile.
That is an understatement.
Andrew Holness, the dynamic 47-year-old Jamaican leader, has turned around the economy in an almost inverse manner to what is taking place in T&T.
While this country has not attracted any recent foreign or local investments and has seen a flight of long-standing corporations, like Unilever, Kingston is being lit up by brand-new hotels, waterfront restaurants, nightclubs, auto dealerships, US tech and solar firms.
An expanded W.G. Grace, fast foods firms like Pizza Hut and KFC, Starbucks (selling Blue Mountain coffee), a new tourism zone, luxury high rises and other ventures are flourishing in Jamaica.
Foreign investments are “pouring in,” a recent official report stated.
With the loss of an estimated 50,000 jobs, unemployment in T&T is the highest in at least two decades; the JA jobless rate is in single digits, the lowest in memory, a government minister recently said.
Jamaican bank interest rates are the best in years, foreign reserves are up, and there is major capital spending on the infrastructure and utilities.
Holness speaks of the “regeneration” of Kingston; in T&T, Port of Spain merchants tell of “episodes of gunfire in plain sight.” 
Good economic news are hard to find in T&T after this country lost its energy sovereignty.
T&T corporations have billions in capital parked up, unwilling to invest, with the public service red tape worsening, labour generally unproductive, crime rampant, and with a more favourable environments in certain other countries.
Foreign investments reportedly rose from US $500 million a year at the start of this decade to US $1.2 billion from 2012 to 2016 in this country.
They have dried up in recent years.
It is now more difficult to do business in T&T, while in Jamaica an entrepreneur can be on his way in three days.
In Jamaica, several nuisance taxes have been abolished and business incentives have been introduced.
Budget deficits are being wiped out.
Jamaican officials acknowledge that their country was, until a few years ago, “an economic basket case.”
The government couldn’t pay its electricity bill, high unemployment deepened the crime scourge, the debt-to-GDP ratio was one of the worst in the world, inflation was steep and public sector workers had to do with a wage freeze.
They were living from quarter-to-quarter, said the finance minister, unable to pay bills and considered one of the most indebted countries in the world.
Jamaica has created its radical economic transformation through “sheer resolve”, official says.
In other words, effective leadership!
The population was told the truth, they bore the burdens of adjustments and are now benefiting, in an equitable manner, from improved times.
In T&T, the finance minister “can see clearly now”.
But a brand-new report of Focus Economics, described as “economic forecasts from the world’s leading economists”, stated: “The economy likely performed poorly in the second quarter.”
The international ratings downgrade means higher cost of borrowing, resulting in increased debts for future generations. 
While Holness is the economic man of the times, he is still fighting crime, with a homicide rate of 47 per 100,000 people.
But he is facing the challenge manfully, declaring states of emergency, empowering the agencies and facing the cameras himself.
He said that “crime is trending down due to our implemented policies and strategies.”
Recent statistics confirm the trend.
There are still economic problems in JA – the working class says progress is slow – but Andrew Holness has proven to be the man for the job.
They are probably buttressed by icon Bob Marley’s assurance that “don’t worry, everything is going to be alright” and “when one door is closed, another is open.”
These days, my friend is savouring her jerk chicken, ackee, cassava cake and coco bread, maybe with a cold Red Stripe.
And she is experiencing new-age Caribbean leadership first hand.

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