By Gordon Robinson
Finally, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) world economic outlook caught up with mine held and published since February.
Why take so long? Well, the only difference between the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and IMF is IMF bureaucrats are 'international'. Still, the mindset remains true to the philosophy of bureaucracy's founding father, Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon). Look him up. He implements his fundamental philosophy ('The Doctrine of Doing Nothing') with a natural talent for advocating its application at length using perennial bureaucratic staples, obfuscation and manipulation.
So the IMF's latest outlook really includes several outlooks covering every probable eventuality. It's replete with subjective key words like 'uncertainty' which, apparently, "weighs heavily on the outlook"; and 'confidence', which it's certain, subject only to its overriding 'uncertainty' (sigh), hasn't yet been rebuilt.
There were some specifics. "Global growth slowed again during the second quarter of 2012 after rebounding during the first" is followed by a lengthy obfuscatory paragraph before, almost as an afterthought: "Growth also decelerated in the United States." Apparently, the US is located on another globe. Revised 2013 'growth' projections predict recession everywhere: -1.1% (Euro area, periphery); -0.5% (Euro area, core); -0.6% (advanced Europe); -0.25% (Emerging Europe); and -0.2% (USA/Canada).
Will local bureaucrats now take their heads out of the sand; stop pandering to politicians; and face the grim reality that 2013 will be bad for Jamaica's economy? If we admit it, maybe we'll DO something about it.
I told you so
We still don't get it. From as far back as February 19 ('Where's this growth to come from?'), I told you there'd be no growth in Jamaica for 2012 or 2013. Based on specified global indicators, I boldly predicted: "The US isn't decisively emerging from its recent recession any time soon. In fact, ... it'll be sinking into a new, deeper recession within the next 12 months."
I hammered home the point in follow-ups on March 25 ('Recycled illusions of recovery') and May 15 ('Gov bytes') before finally proclaiming (to derisive catcalls from fawning, fumbling, foolish followers): "We're in a state of economic emergency" ('Is the Government's nose growing?' September 9) and insisting that "Government's sole appropriate option is to implement the strongest policy prescriptions. NOW!" Meanwhile, our BOJ governor was predicting various growth rates up to 1%.
Instead of taking decisive policy action, including severely cutting the public sector; implementing tax/pension reform; restricting imports; making and implementing the required policy decisions to increase local production, especially in agriculture; and incentivising small businesses; what's the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) doing?
It genuflects before an Almighty IMF for a 'deal' it must believe will miraculously produce growth since there seems not one single additional or
alternative policy being implemented while we pray. This deal was promised within two weeks of December 29, 2011; then in early 2012; and finally, as if it were to be a unilateral contract, confidently predicted for before year end.
Meanwhile, nothing else seemed to matter. But, is this deal a saviour? For whom? Jamaica? Or its foreign creditors? According to Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater, whose expressed mission is to pay down our unsustainable debt, it'll allow us to borrow more. So, our salvation lies in borrowing more to pay down our debt? Am I a mukut?
Funds are diverted from developmental programmes to finance GOJ's Band-Aid (JEEP).
The Government seems to be grasping every opportunity, however small, to send wrong signals to a nation in fiscal crisis. Olympians whose efforts have ensured them hefty earning opportunities, and who qualify for commemorative plaques or even national honours, are given millions in cash prizes from a public purse that can't afford
to pay its teachers or policemen a dollar more. How much cash did the United Kingdom give Mohammed Farah? Zip. Zero. Nada. Instead, my new political hero, David Cameron, set the tone early by ordering Cabinet ministers wishing to attend the Olympics to take public transport.
'Consultants' are hired at horrendous annual cost to crowd an already overstaffed public sector and we're contemptuously dismissed with snooty assertions like: "Mr So-and-So is working for a fraction of what he could've earned elsewhere." Really? Where? At what salary? Paid by whom? Show me the money and I'll believe that tired dinosaurs like me have spurned multimillion-dollar offers to volunteer to help us. Puh-leeeze!
As Dennis Emmanuel Brown would put it:
Sitting here watching fools like themselves
When they should be thinking
Of getting to know themselves
While life goes on
Everyone's got to stand strong
You can't surrender, no, no, no.
Peace and love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.