When will Phillips ease our agony?
I have credited the finance minister and his team in the past for what they've done in managing the austerity segment of the economic programme with the IMF. I am very sensitive to criticism that what Dr Peter Phillips has done in marshalling our safe navigation of all eight IMF tests to date is nothing fancy.
Nobody - and I mean nobody - who understands finance can say that with a straight face or even allow such a thought to form in their minds.
But the opposition leader is still correct when he says that it doesn't take a genius to cut spending, hike taxes and fees, while avoiding the payment of bills, in order to meet the stringent targets under the programme with the IMF.
To be fair to the finance minister, he never said he was a genius. Only that he was the man to ensure the country stuck to its austerity programme, while overseeing the implementation of a raft of reforms to build muscle and replace the dangerous layers of fat in the bang-belly economy.
In real terms, it's nothing less than one would expect from a finance minister in a PNP government, presiding over a country where the workers' unions are led by PNP prefects in the form of men and women who would sell their newborn child for pennies or disown their own mother, rather than do anything to hurt the party's image. For these party prefects, the Bible is not that book purportedly written by inspired men of God and which has been translated multiple times over the centuries and published as the Good News, New International or King James versions.
No. The Bible is instead any book found up at the tabernacle on Old Hope Road, from which the teachings of the modern-day Joshua (God rest his soul) are hammered into the heads of the acoloytes. You can't shake the conviction of a man who believes in God. Nor, it seems, can you even hope to do the same to a man who believes in the PNP.
Notwithstanding the industrial action taken by rank-and-file police personnel, this Government is basically operating in a non-strike environment, an industrial-relations safe zone. It can depend on its agents lobbying on behalf of public-sector workers to hide the matches from those soaked in the gasolene of poverty and despair, who may want to self-immolate in public to register their frustration at how difficult it is to survive.
With these conditions in its favour, the least this PNP Government can do is get austerity right. Indeed, if growth could have been achieved on the back of union leaders who tell the media how much their members are suffering, yet sit at high-level PNP meetings and strategise how to agitate publicly on behalf of their members without causing any damage to the Government, this economy would be racing ahead at five and six per cent for each quarter of the fiscal year.
But alas, there's a limit to what even the most perfervid kind of party loyalty and wagon-circling can achieve. Looking at the environment in which they were about to embark on the austerity programme, I believed the Government when it pledged to see the process through to completion. It has not let me down in that regard.
I also believed them when they said they would grow the economy. In that regard, they have left me and the country feeling like the man who applied Stud 55 to his member, in anticipation of the woman who had promised to come and check him one fateful Sunday. This was a story printed in the Enquirer newspaper back in the 1980s which I hid and read as a primary-school boy.
Suffice to say that the charming woman failed to keep her promise and, as the man's skin began to swell, so did his agony. Long story short, he ended up in the Spanish Town Hospital where compassionate nurses built something like a dam around his member. They then packed ice into the dam in an attempt to ease his pain until the surgeon came. He eventually got relief.
But I ask Dr Phillips, when will you and this Government provide relief for this debilitating stiffness that has this country wailing in agony?
- George Davis is a journalist at Nationwide News Network. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.