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Gov't more responsive to external partners - Tufton

Published:Monday | September 22, 2014 | 9:00 AM
File Co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, Dr Christopher Tufton.

Co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) Dr Chris Tufton says the Jamaican Government has been forced to be more responsive to the concerns and demands of its main multilateral and bilateral partners and, in the process, runs the risk of being less responsive to the concerns and demands of Jamaican stakeholders and the Jamaican people.

Addressing a Rotary Club of Portmore meeting last week, Tufton told his audience this scenario represents a case of "he who pays the piper calls the tune", where key eternal partners like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as main trading, investment and aid-support bilateral partners like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and China are increasingly depended on to support Jamaica's economic and social programmes due to the country's state of indebtedness and dependence on others for economic and social support.

According to Tufton, the current scenario might not be all bad, but rather, can be described as a double-edged sword.

"On one hand, we must have reason to be sad as a nation that our future resides in the wishes and directives of others. On the other hand, due to our current economic plight and the way we have managed our affairs, we must see these external partners as offering us an opportunity to maintain a place in the global inter-connected marketplace and take the necessary steps to work towards real economic independence," he said.

Tufton said that the Government must, however, be careful to balance the dictates and obligations it has to these external partners with the responsibility it has to its internal stakeholders.

Economic independence

"Ultimately, as a country, it will be our internal stakeholders like investors and workers who will have to be depended on to achieve this economic independence, so their concerns must be adequately taken on board," he said.

He said part of the challenge the Government must overcome is how to restore trust with its internal stakeholders so there can be a joint and collaborative approach to dealing with the country's external partners.

He said the manifestations of that mistrust are prevalent in the society, from how the State deals with Jamaicans in lock-ups to how it responds to calls for a review of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus spread. Political discourse on these important matters tends to be about political advantage rather than a search for truth and a search for solution.

Tufton says the Government, the Opposition, and other critical stakeholder groups must engage in greater dialogue informed by sound assessment of each situation as a means of having a more informed policy debate for the good of the country and regaining public trust and support.