In light of the latest immigration row between Jamaica and Trinidad, where 12 of our citizens were denied entry, the PSOJ has decided to hijack this situation and has called for a boycott on Trinidadian goods. Though we have been having this problem with Trinidad for a while now, I find the call for boycotts from the PSOJ either hypocritical at best or manipulative and opportunistic at worst. The reason why I say this is that the membership of the PSOJ consists of people that are suppliers and sellers of goods, who have a direct hand in what we as Jamaican consumers find available for consumption in our local Supermarkets and Wholesales.
These PSOJ members run “for profit” businesses regardless of where their products come from so I find it a bit disingenuous that the call for Boycott should come from their quarters. If they are serious about consumption of only Jamaican made products, all they have to do is stop importing Trinidadian products! No need to call for Jamaicans to boycott Trinidadian products, just stop selling them in the supermarkets and wholesales that we shop at. If we can only get Jamaican products from our retailers, there’s no way we can come out with Trinidadian products! While there is this pang of nationality, the PSOJ can carry it a little further and stop importing American, Canadian and European products as well, as Jamaicans have been denied entry to these places too. Following this same logic, products from these locales need to be boycotted as well. This should extend to fast food outlets such as Dominoes Pizza, KFC and the like as we look to promote Jamaican products, the stimulation of the economy and growth of our manufacturing industry. The PSOJ, I guess, will discuss with the JMA with a view to improve and increase local output by upgrading and expanding local manufacturing facilities while employing more Jamaicans in order to meet local demand which would be left after the boycott is implemented. Speaking of jobs, the contracts of expats that are employed in private sector jobs that Jamaicans are capable of doing, should be cancelled and the requisite qualified Jamaicans hired in their place with the same benefits and pay package that these expats received. All in the name of #buyjamaicanproducts.
Maybe instead of pressuring Andrew Holness and Audley Shaw about the tax incentive, we should look to the PSOJ and the JMA for the economic relief that we Jamaicans have been searching for all these years. While we are it, maybe Mrs. Kamina Johnson Smith should take advice from these bodies as they seem to know more about Foreign Relations than she does (sic).
On a serious note though, this latest immigration row with Trinidad is a CARICOM issue and as such should be dealt with by both Governments and CARICOM. If we are to facilitate free movement of goods, services and people in the Caribbean Basin, we need to have dialogue within this space and iron out the differences that exist between our different nations. Not because we have agreed to participate in CARICOM means that there won’t be problems along the way but it is the way in which these problems are dealt with that will help determine and strengthen our relations in CARICOM. It is to our own benefit that CARICOM is viable on the global playing field as all of our customers, visitors and lending agencies are from outside of CARICOM and they themselves have formed economic blocks in order to facilitate fair trade and gain better economic deals for themselves. Therefore, Government decisions which have the potential to negatively affect the majority of it’s citizens should NOT be influenced by special interest groups that only serve to benefit the few.