Since its government accepted the recipe of global financial institutions and introduced liberal instruments in the management of its economy, Jamaica’s financial system was plunged into deep crisis. The two-decade-long economic nightmare blighted the economy and plunged the country into a vortex of decline with thousands of businesses closing their doors.
The greater harm was done to the real sector as thousands of businesses sucked into deep and unsustainable debts that forced them to close shop. Mrs. Valerie Dixon had a personal experience of the impact of the belated effort of the Jamaican government to save its financial institutions through FINSAC on herself, her family and the large number of Jamaican entrepreneurs, who were negatively affected. The author, educator and entrepreneur documented the era in a new book – Too Black to Succeed – The FINSAC Experience.
FINSAC (Financial Sector Adjustment Company) Limited was established by the Government of Jamaica in January 1997 with a mandate to restore stability to Jamaica’s financial institutions. At that time, a number of Jamaican banks and insurance companies were experiencing liquidity and solvency shortfalls and an erosion in customer confidence.
Unfortunately, FINSAC evolved into a uniquely ubiquitous metaphor for the economic malady that crippled the Jamaican economy through the 1990s and continues to this day to scar the economic lives of many in the Caribbean country. This two-decade-long economic nightmare blighted the economy and plunged the country into a vortex of economic decline with thousands of businesses closing their doors.
It locked Jamaica out of the great global economic surge that took place during the 1990s and 2000s, and has left the country lagging behind other countries which have already broken free from the recent global recession.
Dixon in “Too Black to Succeed” aims to engage Jamaicans at home and across the global Diaspora, as well as the millennial generation of Jamaicans, who she feels need to be more conscious of the important socio-economic factors of the past and present which are determining the quality of their lives and future. Dixon also explored the entire spectrum of her country’s financial system and pointed out when it started going wrong.
The sudden dissolution of the delicate symbiotic relationship between the financial institutions and their productive clients ought to have led the Government to try to identify the reason why the productive economy and its bankers were suddenly mired in debt. Had it done so, it would have discovered that the roots lay in its first significant economic policy change after it assumed office in 1989: liberalisation of the foreign-exchange system without sufficient reserves or appropriate regulatory, monetary and fiscal arrangements to support it.
But the Government contented itself to believe that companies which had been conducting business successfully for decades were suddenly struck en masse with ineptitude, stupidity and amnesia as to how to properly run a business. Many of these were businesses that had produced goods and services with distinction, earning and saving foreign exchange for the country, lifting Jamaica’s high-value production capability and providing high-paid, high-skilled jobs for thousands of Jamaicans; and for all that time were good customers of the banks.
Taking a bullish stance, Dixon evokes memories of Jamaica’s rich heritage of revolutionaries that fought valiantly to win freedom for their people to galvanize the people not to be held back by yesterday’s challenges and failures. The revolutionary struggles of Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bedward and Leonard Howell – all heroes of the war against subjugation – were chronicled in the book with not just patriotic fervour but in a manner to evoke their valiant spirit.
The inspiring and heroic exploits of the Maroons who formed independent communities as free men and women well before the abolition of slavery as well as the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 when freedmen rose in violent protest against laws that prevented from voting through high poll taxes, and their living conditions that had worsened following crop damage by floods, cholera and smallpox epidemics, and a long drought were also dispassionately analyzed.
Wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, counselor, mentor, entrepreneur, and writer among a myriad of other pursuits, Dixon is endowed with strong opinions, love of justice, a keen ability to see beyond the obvious, and a brilliant sense of humour.
The book is available for pre-order on Amazon