Mon | Jul 24, 2017

'People are suffering' - Tavares Finson

Published:Monday | September 29, 2014 | 9:00 AM

THE PARLIAMENTARY Opposition on Friday warned the Government not to see
its legislative agenda as an end in itself, arguing that countless
Jamaicans are hurting under the current economic programme being driven
by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Tom Tavares Finson, the
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, said while the Government
has passed all five tests administered by the IMF, Jamaicans are
experiencing tough times.

"While we are in here with warm fuzzy
feelings about the economy, Jamaican people on the road are feeling the
pinch and they do not receive relief when you pass a piece of
legislation in this House," Tavares Finson said.

His comments were
made during the debate on the GCT (Amendment) Act in the Senate after
government senator K.D. Knight congratulated the opposition for being
supportive of the legislative agenda of the Government.

Knight,
who also lauded the opposition senator Dr Nigel Clarke for his normally
studious contributions to debates in the Senate, said Finance Minister
Dr Peter Phillips' management of the economy should be commended. He
pointed to the passage of all IMF tests and Standard and Poor's recent
upgrade of Jamaica's credit rating as evidence of good work being done.

"If
we had failed any of these tests, the minister of finance would have
been put under some pressure... I have known of a minister of finance
who has had to resign because of having failed IMF tests. It happened in
the 70s. I have known of governments which have failed because they
could not conclude an IMF agreement," Knight said.

Right direction

He
said that legislative strides such as amendments to the GCT Act, which
is part of the tax reform programme, and improvements to the country's
macro-economic picture, suggests that "the country is heading in the
right direction".

But no sooner than Knight had taken his seat, Tavares Finson rose to argue that Jamaica's economic reality is far from rosy.

"We
participate in the process, but let me just say to senator Knight,
although they may be of the view that everything in the country is going
well, there are difficulties. People are finding it very difficult to
make ends meet," Tavares Finson said.

"The transformation may be taking place on the law books, but it is not taking place in the people's lives outside."

The
opposition senator pointed to comments made at the People's National
Party 76th annual conference at the National Arena on September 21 by
former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson as something the Government should
take seriously.

Speaking at the conference, Patterson warned his
party, which forms the government, that the "passing of IMF tests is not
an end, it is the means to an end".

"In the same way that, when
this party was built, universal adult suffrage was merely the key to
unlocking the door to democratic opportunities and expressions, so we
must see the IMF not an end by itself, but a way by which we can help
empower our people and move Jamaica forward," Patterson said.

Tavares
Finson urged the Government "look to see what is happening with the
people of Jamaica when they begin to look at passing more and more IMF
tests".