PNP, IMF - year one

Published: Wednesday | January 2, 2013 Comments 0

George Davis, Contributor

The first year of this new People's National Party (PNP) administration has been a mixed bag. Among the things under its control, there has been spectacular lows, but no spectacular highs. There have been promises kept and pledges broken. There has been talk on specific issues but no commensurate action and, as the world knows by now, there's been, as yet, no agreement on a new economic programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The most important ministry in Government these days, Finance, has been toiling since January last year, but is yet to conclude negotiations on a deal which suits the IMF and is tailored for the problems of the local economy. Across the country there's a latent frustration and, in many cases, pent- up rage at the absence of a new deal, one full year after the Government changed hands. Those sentiments are strong enough to sufficiently cloud the judgements of those who know very well that negotiations like these are not only extremely difficult, but are also 'time-insensitive'. In other words, the IMF doesn't care about any timeline given by any minister or Government to the people about the proposed completion of negotiations. So despite Dr Peter Phillips putting himself in jail with his December deadline for the deal completion, the IMF cares only about the integrity of the numbers and has no interest in sparing the minister any embarrassment.

Some will justify their anger, saying it took the Jamaica Labour Party's Audley Shaw only seven months to secure a deal with the IMF. On July 21, 2009, Shaw announced in Parliament that the Government would be opening talks with the IMF. He was then able to send off a letter of intent to then IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss Kahn, by January 18, 2010 and by February of that year had signed off on a standby agreement with the multilateral. Based on the promise made in the 2011 election campaign of already having the antidote to the potential hurdles in negotiations, it's easily understandable why so many are disgusted by the previous 12 months of talks which haven't even yielded a letter of intent.

many want gov't to fail

Even as talks continue between the deal makers in Kingston and Washington DC, there's a worrying feeling gnawing at me. The feeling I'm getting is that there are many people wanting the finance minister and the Government to fail. It's as if some people are filled with glee every waking day that there's no deal announced. Seriously, how could any person, living and working in this land, wish for the Government to fail with this deal? What really is the utility in such thinking? If the deal doesn't happen or takes longer to close out, what do they think will happen to the value of the dollar and hence imports? How much more will their electricity and gas cost? How much more are they willing to see the country deteriorate to prove their argument that Dr Phillips is out of his depth as finance minister or that the PNP administration has no answers to the most serious problems facing 21st-century Jamaica?

Jamaicans cannot be divided at this time. Labourites cannot wish for hell to break loose just so it makes their party the attractive option at the next election. Neither can Comrades lie through their teeth about how great life is on the Rock and dismiss the effect of the elusive IMF deal on the economy. It still amazes me how people can be rabid in their support of institutions and personalities from whom they get no tangible support. Every PNP supporter who says the country is better off today under this Government should be ashamed of themselves. You Sir and/or Madam are a liar. Every JLP supporter who wants Dr Phillips to fail and for Portia Simpson Miller's Government to crash is a seditionist of the highest order. All of you are free to leave this country to us, the people who in word and deed believe in Jamaica, land we love. In these tough times, unity of purpose and harmony in vision are attributes we must use to stop the economic and social rot.

Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com

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