Portia Simpson Miller's administration is turning out to be as flaccid as the one it replaced - led first by Bruce Golding and then Andrew Holness.
After nearly a year, it has offered only sketches of an economic programme. It seems to be waiting on the International Monetary Fund to tell it what to do, when, instead, it should be inviting support of its own policies already being implemented.
In the meantime, the economy sinks deeper into crisis.
The basis of Jamaica's crisis is well known. We ail from the same malady as Europe's PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).
For too long, Jamaica's governments, drawn from both major parties, have spent far more than they earned from taxes. They mostly borrowed to fill the gap. Unfortunately, proceeds of the debt were not invested in a manner that drove economic growth. That debt, which is at least 140 per cent of gross domestic product, is now at Greek-style proportions.
Our profligacy with other people's money has finally caught up with us. Servicing the debt requires an unsustainable 60 per cent of the Government's annual Budget. What is left is not enough to meet the Government's wage bill.
We have had opportunities to fix the problem, or, at least, to begin to do so.
In 2010, for example, local lenders restructured more than J$700 billion of domestically owed debt. This lowered debt-servicing costs and provided the Government time to sort out its finances. But Audley Shaw, then the finance minister, squandered the opportunity. The Government also wasted international goodwill by failing to fulfil economic reform commitments it gave to the IMF. It was afraid of the hard decisions.
Overtaken by cowardice
Mrs Simpson Miller's Government is similarly overtaken by cowardice and missing leadership.
It claims to know what to do: reform the public sector for efficiency and cost saving; have civil servants contribute to their pensions; eliminate discretionary waivers and corruption from the tax system; and have more people pay their fair share.
But the administration's rhetoric has not been matched by action. It offers no specific tax plan, no clear pension-reform policy, no tangible programme for the overhaul of the public sector.
With the captain having abandoned the wheelhouse, individual ministers are off, it appears, on frolics of their own. There is no articulation by the prime minister of the relevance of their projects and how, and where, these merge into a logical whole. Alternatively, ministers have failed, or are incapable of delivering to the PM policies worthy of articulation to the Jamaican people.
Put another way, the Government is in chaos.
This cannot continue if Jamaica is to arrest its economic decline and have a shot at fixing its social crisis, including poor education outcomes, high unemployment and a high crime rate.
It must start with an economic plan, of which the finance minister, Peter Phillips, must be the primary architect. However, the process requires the entire Government, orchestrated by the prime minister, who possesses the rare gift of being able to connect with the vast majority of Jamaicans in a voice, and with an empathy, that is credible and persuasive.
The question, therefore, is who is responsible? Where is the voice of the Government? It seems to have gone AWOL.
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