Prominent civil engineer, Carvel Stewart, is disputing Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ claims that imported workers will help to grow Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as they will be spending most of their earnings while they work on the island.
According to Stewart, a former President of the Incorporated Masternuilders’ Association of Jamaica (IMAJ), Jamaica’s experience has taught that imported workers many times when domiciled in Jamaica while they work, get paid in their respective countries, with the bulk of the goods that they consume being also imported from their countries of origin.
Holness, while speaking at a function recently, defended his earlier suggestion that it might be necessary to import skilled labourers, by suggesting that Jamaica stands to benefit economically from such foreign workers.
“It doesn’t matter where they (the skilled workers) come from, if they come here to work, the income that they work going to stay here. They might send back 20 per cent, but 80 per cent stays here (in Jamaica,” Holness reasoned.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)
Stewart, however, said the prime minister is being misled by that statistic, especially in relation to Chinese workers who have been in the county for several years working on several construction sites, mainly involving road works.
“I don’t know where the prime minister gets that data from because it is a fact that the Chinese workers get paid in China. It was also the same situation when we got workers from the Dominican Republic to work on the hotels,” said Stewart.
“These workers only live in Jamaica, but their entire salary goes back to their country. They are not paid here, and even the things they use are purchased from China in bulk, so I don’t see how Jamaica benefits economically (in the sense the prime minister spoke) from these people being here,” Stewart argued.
According to him, Holness was way off the mark when he likened the importation of workers to data that show Jamaicans migrating and spending 80 per cent of their salaries in the countries in which they are domiciled.