THE EDITOR, Sir:
CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS give little call for rejoicing, and none at all for hope ... unless our political culture of cowardice and short-sightedness is finally abandoned. We are at a sorry pass as a nation when once again, it has required an external agent to constrain us to address problems that we have known about for a long time, but have done little about. Those same issues of declining productivity, rising debt, tax reform, pension reform, and declining international competitiveness have lubricated our slide into the abyss.
Both political parties, when in government, have talked a mean talk, but have made it an article of faith to avoid addressing these issues. Their preference, as we are experiencing now for the umpteenth time, is to avoid them when in government, and shout advice from the sidelines when in opposition. JDX round two is now an unavoidable part of the solution to our debt problem. JDX round one was promoted as exactly that, three years ago. Did it have to come to this? We have had decades of economic stagnation, but has anyone in government seen the dire need for growth in the economy?
Lacking a growth strategy
We hear voices, mostly from the private sector, baying at the moon, as it were, crying out for growth facilitation, yet we remain a nation near the bottom of the slippery slope and still lacking a growth strategy. When will we start on the climb back up? The transshipment hub and its associated projects can be game changers, but only in the long term. What are we going to do to foster growth this year? Next year?
We need a government that will facilitate growth, but more importantly, we need a change of culture. I fear that our very low rate of economic growth over the last several decades is due more to a culture of dependency and mendicancy than we care to acknowledge, and to a patronising and bankrupt political culture that has played a dominant role in its development. Simply calling for policies to foster growth, necessary as they might be, is asking too much. What we should be pressing for is a partnership for growth where government engages with the private sector and, thereby, gives the country hope that the entrepreneurial spirit which is still manifestly here might get more room for expression.
MICHAEL R. NICHOLSON