Steve Lyston, Contributor
OUR GOVERNMENT, the local business community, and even the Church, have all been praying for the nation. They have been praying with great fervency for the nation to pass 'the test'; to get a deal!
But while we must pray for our nation's growth, development and economic success, the question now arises: When did the IMF become our saviour?
Proverbs 22: 7 states, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the leader."
It is not wrong to borrow money, as long as we can generate the resources to repay. However, if those capabilities are ever diminished, the borrower will learn (to his dismay) the truth of the above statement.
As a nation, we have just celebrated jubilee. However, the word 'jubilee' means 'to set free; to release from all debt'.
Having just celebrated jubilee, if we go back into bondage and into debt, then we have not been truly set free. We would certainly not be free of debt and it would mean that there was no real jubilee.
Does the common man really know or truly understand the policies of most international lenders? Often, international lenders focus on the numbers. They don't have real on-the-ground information with regard to the real state of affairs, culture, or real effects of what is happening within the nations, nor do they care about that.
The policies of the international lenders are not in favour of the growth and prosperity of local businesses, nor of the improvement of the quality of life for the people of the nation, particularly for Third-World countries - and Jamaica is deemed as such.
The policies and decisions of international lenders are dominated by First-World ideas and points of view. Furthermore, very few realise that the shareholders consist of a few dominant First-World nations that pay into the organisation monthly, and so, they call the shots.
Let us ask a few questions.
What if the vision of the international lenders and the direction they are headed are in direct conflict with the vision and direction of our nation?
Keep in mind the issues of politics, religion, labour laws, health, morality, education and its costs, interest rates and food distribution and pricing.
What if their policies and involvement in divestment are hurting or negatively affecting the nation they say they are helping?
What about trade liberalisation policies? Do their policies favour international investors while diminishing the competitive edge/advantage of local businesses?
As strange as it may sound, local businesses would become a thing of the past as the nation would become dependent on international organisation and imports.
Jamaica's advantage over the years has been its real estate. We have done well and have weathered the storms - literally and otherwise. The depreciation of real estate in our nation has been slow, which is good, while other nations suffer in the area of real estate.
It is critical for our people to hold on to their land and assets.
Both political parties have blundered over the years by divesting both our local and international assets for practically nothing, and now we are paying the price. International lenders believe we cannot manage. But if we are to bounce back, divestment must cease.
Make wiser choices
As a nation, we must look to farming in an effort to prevent price hikes. We must begin to cut back on expenses. Food and water are going to be the most important things.
Cut back on the number of roads being built because we cannot put all our hopes into tourism. Natural disasters and one bad review can wipe that out in a minute.
All politicians, if they want the country to bounce back, they need to lead by example and take a 50 per cent pay cut. Take a leaf from Nehemiah's book - Nehemiah 5:14-19.
Cut high executive and consultancy payments, and put in a wage freeze for high-income earners.
Teach the people to fish and stop the handouts - the cash programmes.
Look at the logistics of some of the national infrastructure, and begin to focus even more on small businesses.
Give small local businesses a three-year tax break.
Start looking into term limits for politicians.
Furthermore and finally, for the past 50 years, only one set of advisers have surrounded both political parties, including religious men; and there is need for 'fresh blood' and real, significant change.
We cannot afford to put the IMF in the stead of our real Saviour. They cannot save us; and while all hope is not lost, we must function wiser going forward.
Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance and The New Millionaire'.