Opinion: Developing Jamaica as a Safe Retirement Destination Could Add Billions to Local Economy

by: Silbert Barrett

TORONTO, Canada – The safe resettlement of returning citizens should be Jamaica’s number one priority. The numbers of returning citizens killed since 2012 is alarming and has risen to a national crisis that the Gov’t of Jamaica can no longer afford to ignore. Not if they value the huge contributions Jamaicans overseas are making to sustain a viable economy for all Jamaicans.

A national diaspora policy is meaningless without the rights to vote. The right to vote for a government who will protect all its citizens. Not returning to Jamaica is no solution to the threat facing returning citizens.

Returning Citizens contribute more to the Jamaican economy than Chinese and Indians yet receive far less protection from the Gov’t.

The government even went as far as to publicly assure the Indian communities of their protection which leads one to wonder why they couldn’t do this for Returning Citizens.

“Jamaica has assured India that special care would be taken to safeguard the lives of Indian nationals in the country after an Indian youth was shot dead in a case of suspected armed robbery in Kingston.”

Returning citizens are national assets they send money to Jamaica during their working age and bring retirement money after their working age. No other groups can make this claim as they exporters of our wealth.

So if it is simple bad mind giving rise to this crisis, the Gov’t can easily launch an education campaign on local radio and TV stations and in the schools.

The Police know where to find you when you overstay their six (6) month visa but failed to inoculate returning citizens in communities.

Creating safe retirement communities for returning citizens after many years of supporting Jamaica through tireless hours working in harsh conditions will invariable attract others to see Jamaica as a desirable retirement destination instead of only a stop-over tourism mecca.

Developing Jamaica as a Safe Retirement Destination Could Add Billions to Local Economy

Using National Housing Trust (NHT) funds to acquire lands for these communities along Jamaica’s coastline could prove to be a wise investment decision.

Safely guaranteeing and developing the Jamaican economy as a safe retirement destination not only for returning citizens but the many tourists who have travelled to Jamaica over the years and would have wanted to retire there eventually.

This also could be an alternative way of ensuring that the NHT be more stable and solvent if the Government of Jamaica were to reserve the remainder of the our coastal lands to be developed by the NHT as “Retirement Settlement Communities”; the profits from which could subsidize low income housing development for the 30,000 NHT subscribers who are now on a waiting list for affordable housing.

Instead of selling prime real estate to just one investor for mass tourism development, which according to the UN has far less impact on our economy, the NHT could develop these communities under a Public Private Partnership arrangement and the profits use to house low income Jamaicans in mixed-income communities.

“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) cites that in most all-inclusive mass tourism package tours, about 80% of travelers’ expenditures go to the airlines, hotels, and other international companies (who often have their headquarters in the travelers’ home countries), and not to local businesses or workers.”

Jamaica run the risk of continued low growth rate and possible economic failure if it doesn’t diversify its economy and this is perhaps the most profitable and sustainable means of pursuing future growth and development. A “Blue Zone” economy for everyone to retire in safe and healthy communities linked to medical, eco, sports and entertainment tourism.

Take for instance, Jamaica just gave some 10,000 illegal resident permanent status to live in Jamaica. If this was 10,000 retirees both from the diaspora and others who wants to enjoy a safe and healthy lifestyle in their retirement years, annually having an average retirement package of US$2,000 per month, this potentially could contribute over a 15 year period on average of some US$3.0 billion in Total GDP per year or some US$ 43.0 billion BY 2033 with average annual return on investment of 25% assuming the Government is committed to spending some US$600 million in building the necessary and supportive infrastructure.

Relying on mass tourism is not sustainable in financial and environmental terms as the cost of adding more rooms to accommodate the ever-increasing stop-over visits carries the risk of diminishing marginal returns thus putting more and more pressure on the Jamaican Dollar to shed its value.

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Posted in: National News
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