Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Puppets and Puppet Masters, IMF in Control

In January of 2010 the IMF announced that its was in agreement with the Government of Jamaica for a bailout loan of US$1.2 Billion under a 27-month Stand-By Arrangement. By 2011 Jamaica’s IMF agreement derailed as Jamaica did not sit the review test for quarters ending December, June and September and the IMF has said it would not go to its board until Jamaica is able to get the programme back on track, as such Jamaica was unable to drawn down any more money from the fund.

Under the 27-month agreement with the IMF, Jamaica had agreed to reduce the public-sector wage bill from 11.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 9.5 per cent of GDP. Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament that the requirement could lead to approximately 10,000 job cuts, which I think was a conservative estimate as some experts predicted close to 30,000. The IMF declared that Jamaica has not been moving fast enough to affect necessary reforms under the 27-month standby arrangement and so they will let off no more funds.

The big question then is, why did the Bruce Golding led Government stopped the IMF reforms dead in its tracks? What did the IMF want them to implement, was it so harsh, so terrible that they did not have the stomach or the backbone to continue with the IMF requirements? Whatever it was it was too much of a bitter medicine for them to deliver... so exit Bruce Golding and enter Andrew Holness.

In Oct 24, 2011 Andrew Holness was sworn in as the New Prime Minister, not long after he declared that the country will hold General elections on December 29th, just few months after taking office. Constitutionally the Hon. Holness did not have to call election and I thought it was a very bad idea at the time, Andrew needed time to make his mark but he was in a peculiar position with the IMF on one side and the Jamaican people on the other. Instead of taking the bull by the horn and do what had to be done he called an election thinking he would either first secure a mandate from the people or maybe he just did not want the job as head Bitter Medicine deliverer hoping that job would go to the PNP. Mr. Holness election campaign was based partly on the Bitter Medicine that was to come and the PNP campaign was based on the Good times that were to come.

Now the PNP have the job of delivering the toxic medicine even though they promised Good Times but only a fool would believe that good times was in our immediate future, knowing the state of our economy and society. Deep down in our hearts we knew for many decades we were heading in the wrong direction, spiraling out of control but throwing caution to the wind and living the high life felt way to good and addictive. However I do believe the Jamaican people have been crying out for structure and leadership for a long time, they wanted someone to stop their destructive behavior and lead the way, they wanted an intervention but our Political class is way too selfish for that, so they feed into the destructive behavior as a way to secure votes like a drug dealer to a crack addicted whore.

Honesty and Reliability are important factors in life, it is a requirement needed for the proper development of any society but members of our political class are neither Honest or reliable, they are just lying, blood sucking opportunist.

I agree with the Private Sector and the Opposition with regards to the Stealth Planned Tax Package. We understand that The IMF will have certain demands from Jamaica before any funds are released, they always do, so when the government announced a big broadcast, everyone tuned in to watched, waited to hear what was in store for us. Knowing the IMF and the state of the Jamaican economy "With a debt-to-GDP ratio of above 140 per cent, a persistent and perennial low-growth or no-growth economy, a crushing debt stock of J$1.7 trillion, and consistent under-performance on revenue collection" …we knew it would be both a Bitter and Toxic medicine and as such we braced ourselves, drink a beer and expected the absolute worst. One thing I know about Jamaican people, they do not do Austerity. They don’t mind getting a loan, always up for a big money let off but do not believe they should jump through hoops or swallow bitter medicine, goes against the very principle of the Let off Culture.

So After the broadcast I said to myself, is that it? A friend of mine said when is the other shoe going to drop because that cannot be it? The Government introduced a new JDX (Jamaica Debt Exchange) programme requested by the IMF (called it: NDX (National Debt Exchange)). The Finance Minister touched on some potential projects to help boost growth and declared that they were hoping to have a public sector wage freeze agreement. After which the Private Sector declared that they were all on board willing and ready to do their part, shoulders to the grind stone. The opposition is never on board it is the very nature of a Jamaican Opposition regardless of which party is in opposition. Our opposition is only concern with opportunities to oppose and expose, stick it to the government… they live for the “Got You Moments”, so there will never be any holding of hands and tackling national issues out of patriotic and national pride. The Jamaican political class and diehard supporters practice the Scorched Earth Policy, if my party is not in power, tear down the country, mash it up, leave no stone unturned until I regain power.

It was a very Underwhelming speech by the PM and the Finance Minister which is why the Private Sector was chuffed, the private sector prefer their bad news light not heavy and disruptive, however the broadcast did not deliver much by way of substance. The TVJ Panel of experts was more informative, although I did not understand the need for them to call Jason Abrahams in Florida, sound like they woke him up, he had nothing to contribute but nothing Jamaicans love more than a person with an impressive last name and Job title working for a big company in North American to babble on and on about absolutely nothing …seconds into his chatter I was thinking… “Man come off a di phone and go back a yu bed”.

The next morning the Government went into Parliament and announced a $16.4-billion Tax Package, plus an additional $11.4 billion from the NHT (National Housing Trust) over the next 4 years.

The Government met with:
  • The Opposition before the broadcast and no mention was made of the Planned Tax Package.
  • The Private Sector before the broadcast and no mention was made of the Planned Tax Package.
  • The Trade Unions and no mention was made of the Planned Tax Package.
  • The Jamaican people on a nationwide broadcast and still no mention was made of the Planned Tax Package.
Clearly the time to announce/introduce this Planned Tax Package was during the nationwide broadcast after introducing it to the stake holders in the pre-meeting. Then go into Parliament and discuss the details with the Opposition and the country.

I am sorry but The Government was disingenuous and I cannot understand why, to what aim, what were they trying to achieve, what outcome did they expect from this deception? I don’t even know if we can call it deception because it looked like pure stupidity to me. What is the difference between being upset the night before or in the morning, plus the night before we were expecting to go to bed upset after hearing the bitter medicine details?

Those of us old enough understand that the IMF have us firmly by the short and curly because once you invite the IMF into to your house then they are now in charge of your house, so just be Honest and Open, let the chips fall where they may, we the Jamaican people caused this mess and we the Jamaican people must sacrifice to clean up our mess. Trying to Stealth in a Massive Planned Tax Package was the wrong thing to do and this Government looked foolish in my eyes. I am not even sure I can call it stealth anymore because it was announced in parliament and to the opposition, so I will just stick with Pure Stupidity.

The Real
World Boss
Having lived through IMF I told you youngsters not to go back to the Fund, I was told how cheap the loan was, but these youngsters are only looking for cheap, easy, let off money, they expected to get something for nothing which is what fishing is all about. This my dear friends is what the IMF does, its terms are Harsh, Hard and Fast, they can tell you to lay off 40,000 workers without batting an eye or implement massive Tax Packages at moments noticed, It is the IMF way or the highway and knowing the state of Jamaica it will only get worse, their terms are always Austerity and I have yet to hear or see any growth programme from this Government. The IMF is now in charge, they are the ones dictating our financial policies, the elected Government is just the conduit through which their power flows.

The Political Class
It amazes me also that this Government was anti-tax and anti-JDX when the previous Government was pro-tax and pro-JDX and it equally amazes me that the Opposition is anti-tax and anti-JDX when they were pro-tax and pro-JDX when they were in power. I never know if the opposition is making a statement base on Solid Economics Facts, with unselfish logics and commonsense or just opposing for opposing sake. I would like to think they are making a solid economic factual statement but knowing our political parties they say one thing in opposition and say something else when in Government. Audley Shaw on CVM sounded like he was campaigning. However I am happy to finally hear from the opposition, having heard way too much from those muppets in the G2K. The moral of the story is, be careful of Political Posturing while in opposition because you never know what will happen when you become the Government. Be mindful of what you say and do because it might come back to bite you in the butt.

I watched “Simon Says” on CVM the other night as he read statements from members of both political parties while they occupy different positions of our Government structure over time and it got me thinking... They can curse something one minute and defend the same thing the next. It just confirms to me what I knew all along but hoping that someday it would change, that politicians have no Principles, because principle is not wishy washy or opportunistic, it is a firm, stand your ground thing and the measure of a person. I think we are in bigger trouble than any of us care to think about, not because the economy is rubbish, not because the exchange rate is rubbish, not because of high crime rate but because those members of the political class are Spineless, Lying, deceitful, little invertebrates totally void of any principles and no good will come of it. For the first time in decades I genuinely fear for the future of my beloved country, each time I look and listen to members of the Government and Opposition.

Unless the Opposition can come up with something radically different, promoting personal responsibility and moving us in a different direction then I do not see any other option. It was the Opposition that brought the IMF back to our beds and then failed to implement their requirements. The IMF is not trying to create a growth program, it just knows how to chip away at what it sees as the problem, Public sector wage bill too high? Fire the lot!, Government need more Revenue? Increase taxes! Take the public sector for example, ever since I my eye deh a mi kneel, I have been hearing that we need to reduce the size of the public sector, every jack man knows it is bloated and costing us too much, people are just employed for employment sake and there is no efficiency in the sector. Back in the 90’s Douglas Orane was commissioned to investigate the sector and identify waste and mismanagement. The Government paid lip service to it and when the report was finally delivered the Government shelved it, none of the recommendation was ever implemented to my knowledge. We did not need the IMF to tell us to lay off 30,000 people, we could have laid off 1000 public sector workers , per year with an hire freeze for the past 30 years or 2000 over 15 years. A lot of our problems have been around for decades and we have done nothing to deal with it over time. The Political class does political tip toeing around the problems and the people.... well they just love and enjoy their merriment ...from Dancehall to Jazz and Reggae Concerts, to hot Observer Page 2 moments at various events. Jamaica is the Matrix, that movie must have been written with us in mind, reality means nothing, perception is everything, every body lives in their own creation of Lah, Lah Land where they bask in their own self-importance... look at me, look at me, I am big and large.

I have heard diehard supporters of the opposition declaring that it is now time for us to do one of our world renowned demonstration, that it is time to go on a slash and burn, looting and shooting rampage and I wonder to demand what, how will that fix anything, a rampage on that level will only make matters worst. It is about time we separate some of our problems from the political arena to the national arena and deal with the problems as one people, united before the world.

Meanwhile over the many years, No Mass Rally or Protest have ever been organized against:
  • Government Corruption, Lies and Empty Promises
  • Increasing Murder/Crime Rate
  • Economic Mismanagement and Hardship
  • Crumbling and/or missing infrastructure
  • Child abuse/murder on rise in Jamaica
Which tells me mass riot and demonstration is only done when the opposition wants to become the Government not because they care about the lives of the people.

We have done nothing to address the problems in our society and as a matter of fact every Government have tried not to take any bold step fearing they may upset the electorate who provides them with power and glory but we cannot continue like this, we must change. The name Jamaica was meant for bigger and better things, a shining example to all but we have lost our way and derailed our journey to greatness. It is now time to correct the error of our ways.

1 comment:

  1. This should be in the front pages of both newspaper. For the first time in my younger (am guessing) years, I've begun to lose hope in Jamaica land I love. Been seriously thinking if I should be heading out once again