At the end of each semester, students are given a test to determine their level of competence in each subject/course area. At the grade six level in primary education, students sit what is called the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) and tertiary level students must sit some form of examination to determine their Grade Point Average (GPA). Governments too must pass some tests. The ultimate test politicians aspire to pass, it would be the strength of the economy – Gross Domestic Product (Public Debt and Foreign Debt), Cost of Borrowing and Reserve Cover. That’s the test The Economist gave emerging markets, ranking 66 countries on four measures of financial strength. Jamaica was ranked 56 out of 66 countries, followed by Argentina, Sri Lanka and Venezuela closing the list. Our neighbor, Trinidad & Tobago ranked 15th on the list, represents the best performing Caribbean nation.
Jamaica’s response to Covid has been underwhelming. On January 28, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Chris Tufton said in a CVM-TV interview that Jamaica was prepared in its response to Covid-19. While many countries around the world downplayed the impact Covid-19 would have on their respective countries, many did not predict a pandemic. Covid-19 has crippled the Jamaican economy, shutting down the booming tourism industry, forcing employers to implement work from home policies, mandating citizens to wear masks while our leaders attempt to get the reopening of the economy right.
Allow me to inject the Atlanta example. Governor Kemp, on April 2nd revealed that he was only informed that asymptomatic could transmit the coronavirus. On April 24, Kemp ordered the reopening of his state’s economy allowing gyms, barbers, cosmetologists, and other similar businesses to open their doors. This was the scene in Atlanta.
Since Governor Kemp science-free idea of reopening Georgia, new cases are increasing exponentially. The state is reporting in excess of 1,000 new Covid-19 cases.
Jamaica had a 774% Increase in Covid-19 Cases in the Last Month
Jamaica’s response to Covid-19 has been less than outstanding. With each passing day, single digit positive cases in early March are now replaced with double digit positive cases. And there is no end in sight as Prime Minister Holness signals his bid to reopen the economy. The devil is in the details as a premature move could backfire with more Jamaicans testing positive with a virus that can be fatal.
Timing & The Politics of Covid-19
As the days go by, Jamaica inches closer to the constitutionally due general election. It must be a burden on Holness’ mind about the timing of the election. Andrew Holness called the 2011 election too early. A decision, the late Edward Seaga labeled bad timing. Should Holness have called an election in the midst of the Opposition’s battle for leadership in 2019? Covid-19 is now the ultimate test for the Prime Minister politically. How Holness navigates the treacherous demands of rebuilding the economy while Covid-19 dissipates, remains the biggest challenges. What is true – Covid-19 could be Holness’ smooth highway into a second term or the end to his political career.