Finance minister says he has the same vision, but is using a different route to get there
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
As he struggles to secure a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips is warning that the realities of the day mean there is no space for "abstract and age-old ideologies".
For Phillips, this means accepting the raw realities of the time and working to achieve the best results instead of clinging fatalistically to the past.
Phillips remains convinced that there is no turning back even as he works feverishly to eke out a deal with the IMF.
After more than 30 years in public life, Phillips told The Sunday Gleaner that the realities of the day have forced him to change course in seeking to achieve the vision that he has for the people.
Creating an environment that is more equitable and which provides the opportunity for improving the quality of life for the majority of the people who have been marginalised by history is the driving force for Phillips.
"That is what motivated me as a youngster of 17 and 18 and that is what motivates me today," asserted Phillips, as he claimed that the vision which influenced his foray into public life remains alive.
"The fundamental vision that motivated me from the time I started to think about these issues while at high school, then at the University of the West Indies, and then at the university overseas have been the same," declared Phillips.
He was, however, quick to point out that his strategies to reach his dream have been altered by extraneous circumstances.
"I believe that, over the years, we have changed up our views as to what sets of policy initiatives will deliver this, but my objectives are absolutely the same ... ."
Added Phillips: "I think we have to face the fact about the choices we have to make and it is not a choice in relation to ideals and abstract situation, one way or another."
Stressing that the world of the 21st century is very different from the world of the 20th century, Phillips pointed out that eastern and western blocs are no more.
"And, certainly, there is no Cold War which could give you a geo-political leverage."
For Phillips, the new realities have brought numerous changes to the global landscape.
Emerging out of this is the removal of alternative source of financing, benefits from a non-aligned movement and drastic changes to policies of multilaterals to the extent that lenders now establish cross conditionalities to access loans.
He said without a front programme approved by the IMF, grant funding from the European Union will be no more while the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank will not approve loans even as private financial entities lend at a premium rates.
looking for a better life
"You are caught up in this set of arrangements in the quest for a better way of life for your people," he said, "What it means is that we have to find a way that offers the prospect of a better life and we have to find it in the context of present-day realities," asserted Phillips.
He argued that success requires a changed mindset.
"We have to recognise a simple fact, that if we just accept our condition as being a given, and pursue the same sets of policies then we are likely to get the same results," declared Phillips.
"We can have a long debate about the policy mix or execution, and I think there is an implementation issue that I think we need to confront."
Phillips contended that current realities demand that leaders move from the period of dependency theory that had in the past, influenced academic analysis.
"It was argued that it was the nature of the linkages with the world economy and the nature of the connections with the advance economy that explain our underdevelopment in the Caribbean," argued Phillips.