Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Ronald Mason | One year of nothing

Published:Sunday | February 19, 2017 | 2:00 AM

In the one year since Andrew Holness has been prime minister, he has proven to be absent and out of his depth.

Andrew Holness does not submit himself to questioning by the press. He puts out what he thinks should be of interest. He make-believes there are no problems and acts with arrogance.

The lies from Andrew Holness' campaign have all come to the forefront. Andrew Holness said there would be no new taxes to be levied for the ill-advised relief from income tax. He took very poor advice from persons who have questionable track records of achievement and who also appear to have limited familiarity with the operations of the Jamaican economy.

Andrew Holness has amassed an array of subject matters to his personal purview. Up to now, one year after naming a Cabinet, the country really does not know what this Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation is about. The Economic Growth Council has laboured so long and so hard at an initial cost of J$17 million and has produced nothing.

The actions of increased agricultural outcomes in response to two prior years of drought that devastated the base agricultural output, but Andrew Holness continues his stupidness of trying to fool the people by saying economic growth has been good since his party has formed the Government.

Andrew Holness continues with this label of prosperity that demeans the intelligence of the population. You have to build a foundation that can be primed to deliver growth. The debt-to-GDP ratio is more today than it was on February 26, 2016. You cannot do things contrary to what builds growth and expect that by some stroke of luck down the road the economy will grow and people will be prosperous. No economy works like that.

 

Cabinet selection

 

Andrew Holness has not accepted that competence and subject matter expertise should be considered in Cabinet selection. What J.C. Hutchinson has forgotten about agriculture is much more than what Karl Samuda knows. However, the loquacious, bombastic cursing of the judiciary and taking the property by exercising raw political power of the Government is most appropriate to be in charge of a superministry. Christopher Tufton knows diddly-squat about health. Bobby Montague continues to be in an extended state of befuddlement.

Andrew Holness last week led his Cabinet in an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on three different occasions to deal with the very crippling situation of crime in the country. They met and drank and ate and digested and deliberated and then they called a 'press conference'. Andrew Holness exhaled. Guess what? Nothing, nil, came forth.

The crime-prevention strategy was again stillborn. The 42 per cent more murders this year were nothing to cause alarm to Andrew Holness and his Government because, of course, they have protective service. Andrew Holness promised prosperity, but so far has delivered a massive tax package with another one pending, so much so that 200,000 more persons will be added to PATH and money has to be borrowed to facilitate this.

Andrew Holness has not been as consultative as he should have been, given the one-seat majority. What has happened to the group formed by the previous government to work on the crime situation? The largest employer, the Government, cannot make policy decisions on public-sector modernisation. There are 84 government entities to be divested or merged, but when?

 

NHT raid

 

Hypocrisy rules. The raid on the NHT was worthy of the PNP Government being taken to court when the JLP was in Opposition, even though the money was used to bring the country back from the precipice of which they were major architects. But now since Andrew Holness is prime minister, he may find some compelling reason to hijack money from the NHT and other government bodies. Drain the coffers to support the budget and keep campaign promises.

Capital expenditure drives growth. The 0.1 per cent reduction in employment for October was structural and as a result of persons no longer seeking jobs.

Andrew Holness promised a lot: job descriptions for ministers; the population being able to sleep with their doors and windows open and crime would not affect us; legislation for term limits; legislation to deal with corruption, effectively; legislation on a fixed election date; legislation for impeachment proceedings; a grand referendum on buggery, the CCJ and cannabis legalisation.

What has Andrew Holness really delivered? None of the legislation itemised in the Throne Speech; more debt, draining the finances of the public bodies, massive tax packages, more persons on PATH; a more tribalised society, as seen with the $600-million-$800-million bush-clearing exercise in the lead-up to an election, now mired in a corruption probe, the renaming of the Partnership of Jamaica; the granting of the Caricel licence under questionable circumstances; the continuation of the ill-advised tax break.

Andrew Holness' inability to intercede on behalf of the banking-sector bigwigs on the EGC to stop them from bilking these exorbitant fees from the people is telling.

Where is the morality, Andrew Holness?

Andrew Holness has delivered one year of nothing but public relations and social media photo ops while placing enormous burdens on the backs of the Jamaican people.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.