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Boyne's naivety and Shaw’s dilemma

Published:Wednesday | April 20, 2016 | 4:00 AMJeduthan Romeo

Despite Ian Boyne's protestation that he has not been bitten by the "naivety bug", the opposite is true. Even worse, Mr Boyne is being disingenuous in his reasoning and arguments posited in his article titled 'That 1.5 won't go away', which was published in The Sunday Gleaner dated April 17, 2016.

He states, "This promise for the $1.5 million tax break was not simply one of a number of promises. It was the promise that put the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in power."

Mr Boyne completely ignores the fact that this promise was time bound. An unequivocal commitment was made that this would be effected by April 1, 2016, which was dubbed payday. The electorate has been waiting and continues to wait. It seems, however, that the payday promise of April 1 was a Tom fools' joke.

Mr Boyne's Christianity appears to be very elastic, as he is prepared to wait until the Budget is read by Audley Shaw to determine the creditworthiness of this administration. There seems to be a direct correlation between the elasticity of his faith and that of his patience.

A double standard is revealed here. Portia Simpson Miller was harshly criticised for her comment leading up to the 2011 general election that an administration led by her would conclude a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal within two weeks of taking office. It is public knowledge that it took the greater part of a year to correct the utter mess and discredit done to Jamaica's commitment to fiscal prudence by the then minister of finance Audley Shaw.

It was under Mr Shaw's watch that the previous IMF programme was unceremoniously abandoned, causing a lockout of Jamaica from the international capital markets and a freeze on the flow of grants and other aid funds from our multilateral partners.

The JLP has failed to make its own deadline for the implementation of this tax-break promise. The target was simply unreasonable, unrealistic and lacking in diligence. Not much thought went into how it would be funded or how it would be sustained. Put bluntly, it was a vote-buying ploy!

 

BLAMING THE PNP

 

Rather than admit to its unfeasibility, the JLP is prepared to carry the fool a little further. So they decided to cook up a story and blame the People's National Party (PNP) for this major policy stumble, if not blunder.

Thanks to The Gleaner, this ruse was exposed. Despite its exposure, the minister of finance insisted in an interview after the ceremonial opening of Parliament that he did not know there were insufficient funds to finance the tax-break implementation. It's akin to running a gas station and not knowing that there isn't sufficient gas to sell to customers.

Mr Boyne's naivety is laid bare when he asserts, "... But what I think is safe to say is that if there is any space for creative policymaking, Audley Shaw, because of his lack of subservience, is likely to find it rather than someone overly sold on neo-liberal dogma."

Mr Boyne completely ignores the dismal performance of Mr Shaw with regard to the previous IMF programme - unless by 'creative policy' he was referring to the reckless abandonment of the programme. It does seem Mr Holness is not as forgiving as Mr Boyne, as he has appointed a minister of state to directly handle IMF compliance.

Further, to whom is Mr Boyne referring when he speaks of "someone overly sold on neo-liberal dogma"? He seems seduced by the propaganda that the PNP was 'passing IMF test, but not passing the people's test'.

As one who prides himself as being fair, fearless and balanced, Mr Boyne should call a spade a spade. The JLP tax plan, as conceived and presented to the people of Jamaica, was not workable, and the implementation deadline was impossible. There has been a breach of trust.

Attempting to implement the tax plan in its current form, and at any cost, will only visit more austerity and not prosperity. The real dilemma for the JLP is that, having sold an unviable plan to the electorate, does it now implement any plan at all cost to retain political power?

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