Jamaica struggles with one of the highest debt burdens in the world on a per capita basis, which continues to prevent long-term growth and undermine social spending and investment in infrastructure.

The total stock of debt reportedly stood at approximately 130% of the GDP at the end of 2010 while a recent report by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) put Jamaica’s interest payments at nearly 10% of GDP in 2011, the highest percentage worldwide in 2011.

Things worsened for Jamaica in the global economic downturn with growing unemployment and reduced remittances, which account for around 15% of the GDP. The incidence of poverty jumped up from 9.9 in 2007 to 17.6% in 2010.

Jamaica also struggles with a cycle of poverty, drugs and gang violence, which is hard to break and has taken its toll on the people. The country’s social ills are only too evident in west Kingston, a poor violence-prone neighbourhood on the border of two politically opposing districts, where the Jesuits run St Anne’s parish and community centre. The Jesuits also run St George’s College in the capital Kingston.

Jamaica news and articles:

Inner-city violence and goodness in Jamaica by Rohan G. Tulloch SJ
Self-supporting, liberating work by Rohan G. Tulloch SJ
Thank you, Fr Jim! by CJI staff
Jamaica: An oasis for youth by Rohan G. Tulloch SJ