Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
Civil Society Coalition thinks administration is dragging feet with critical policies
The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) has accused the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller administration of being in a state of "policy paralysis" at a time when the country is on the brink of a major disaster.
"That could be the only explanation for the vagueness of the statement coming out of the Cabinet retreat at a time when Jamaica faces something that is of the order of a potential disaster as a runaway train with no driver at the helm," stated JCSC Chairperson Carol Narcisse yesterday.
Narcisse was making reference to a release from Simpson Miller to update the country on the outcome of a two-day Cabinet retreat where the long-in-the-works new agreement with the International Monetary Fund and critical reform measures essential to sealing the agreement formed a major part of the agenda.
Finance Minister Peter Phillips had stated last month that Jamaica was expected to conclude negotiations by October 5 and seal the deal by the end of December.
SHADOW OF DOUBT
However, the tone of the statement from Simpson Miller yesterday cast doubt over whether the Government would be able to meet its December timeline.
"The Government is working as hard as possible to conclude an agreement, but agreements of this sort exist between two parties. The timetable is, therefore, not ours alone to set," read the statement from Simpson Miller, who left the island yesterday for an official five-day visit to Canada.
Yesterday, Narcisse argued it was impossible for the Government to reach its December timeline when several of the critical reform measures on which the agreement hinges were still in limbo.
She said she had expected that Cabinet members would have emerged from the retreat "with a game plan" on how they intend on tackling some of the critical reform measures.
"The list of things have already been outlined, so why is Cabinet not yet able to provide the country with a White Paper on tax reform? Why are we still getting a statement from the prime minister that does not indicate any intention to have a comprehensive tax-reform position put before the people," Narcisse said.
In the meantime, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, said the private sector was willing to ease the pressure off the Simpson Miller administration so long as it maintains an open dialogue with the people as it relates to the critical reform measures and is able to negotiate a "good agreement" for the country.
"When it comes to a good agreement, I don't see December as a magic date. If it's going to take a few weeks longer, a month longer to get a good agreement, the private sector is willing to understand that," Zacca said.