I was a bit surprised to see the following piece in the Sunday Observer’s Lifestyle section. It’s dangerously close to a Page 2, and I have to be careful about what appears to be the life of a retired economist. Yes, I’d answered the questions, but it was not with a clear idea of when it would feature. That was partly because I was whisked away to help some junior golfers at a camp in Montego Bay. It was a companion piece, featuring my wife her official capacity, but with a slant on style. That’s an area where I tend to be iconoclastic. So, with that in mind, it’s amusing that I got kind of hoodwinked. Anyway, the phone has not been ringing off the hook, so I’m not having to answer any image-correcting questions. The Sunday papers are always a good read 🙂

A few people have mentioned that they would vote for me, if I ran for political office. I’ve said I have no such aspirations–and that has often been the reply of someone who then goes off to create a campaign committee. Someone wondered about my travel list, and I explained that I’ve travelled a lot and over many years, and picking a shortlist is really unfair.
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My Kingston — Dennis Jones
Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dennis Jones, economist (retired)

What’s your middle name?

George.

You’re Jamaican by birth but have lived overseas in excess of 50 years. What were your first impressions of Kingston on your return?

No place I’d rather be.

What kept you away from Jamaica for so long?

Life, and lack of opportunities. I tried twice to come to Jamaica to work, but never got offers. I made my life in England where I worked for the Bank of England for a decade, mainly on financial markets, but also leading a group of economists covering Latin America and the Caribbean. In the USA, I worked at the IMF, ending as resident representative in Guinea. I also worked as country economist covering Estonia, Azerbaijan and Russia as well as working on policy development and country programme reviews — Fate brought me back.

You’re an economist, Dennis. What’s your take on Jamaica’s economic situation?

Muddled and reflective of persistent unwillingness to take hard decisions.

What advice would you give to a graduating class of economics students?

Use the logic of the discipline to question all things.

Were you the minister of finance, what would be your three primary areas of focus and why?

1 Get every public agency to identify 10 things they committed to do in the last budget and which they did, and reasons for any not done. Reduce their budget by 10 per cent for every item not done.

2. Cut the budget for public vehicles: no minister or civil servant is to have a personal luxury car or SUV paid for out of public funds; a standard saloon is perfectly adequate.

3. Implement quickly a flat tax and find ways to eliminate all tax exemptions.

Share with us the last book you read.

David Baldacci’s Second Chances. (It should have been ‘Split Second’.)

What cologne are you currently splashing?

Davidoff The Game.

What was your last retail splurge?

I don’t splurge on retail, but I bought some golf pants reduced by 70 per cent, and some blue Kenneth Cole loafers that were reduced by 60 per cent.

Share with us a few places in your travel black book.

Ottley’s Plantation Inn, St Kitts; Guinea’s Fouta Djallon; The Seychelles, Westminster Bridge in London, which holds a lot of personal, historical and cultural significance; and Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway.

Take us to 50 years from now. Which countries will be the economic forces to be reckoned with and why?

I don’t do forecasts. But, for fun, Brazil and Nigeria, both of which have physical size, population, natural resources, and creativity to challenge industrial powers.

Only connect: put people, things, ideas together and let them work to their conclusions and solutions. It’s about not being over-prescribed.

How would you define economic success?

A nation of happy and contented people.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Kingston and why?

689 by Brian Lumley. I love Lumley’s embracing of Jamaican food and making it exciting to eat and look at.

What’s your beverage of choice?

Coconut water.

Finally, what’s your philosophy?

Only connect: put people, things, ideas together and let them work to their conclusions and solutions. It’s about not being over-prescribed.

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