Sat | Dec 3, 2016

If Ian Boyne would read thoroughly

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Aubyn Hill, Columnist

Everyone who reads your paper knows that Ian Boyne reads a lot. In his column in this paper on Sunday, November 9, 2014, he made an apparent off-hand comment which disclosed that he sometimes does not read as thoroughly as he should before going public.

It is interesting that in his article castigating Cliff Hughes for allegedly (I did not hear the comment) using the "failed state" term on his radio talk show programme - apparently loosely, to Mr Boyne's annoyance - the 'veteran journalist' upbraided Mr Hughes for not reading enough.

I know Ian well, and so I am confident he is very familiar with the quotation 'removing the beam from one's own eye to better see the moat in someone else's'.

In making this statement near the end of his column last Sunday, "Aubyn Hill and Claude Clarke need to acknowledge that these achievements (he lifted some statistical achievements from Richard Byles' recent briefing as co-chairman of the EPOC) are necessary prerequisites to any growth they are calling for," Boyne committed the sin of which he accused Hughes.

In doing a review of Peter Phillips' turbulent 2013, I wrote the following which was published in The Sunday Gleaner of January 12, 2014.

"It was clear to me that Phillips got the message and is committed to that new realism. He knows that Jamaica has no choice.

"He knows what will be the price of us breaking those commitments - it will be an unmitigated disaster.

"Phillips also knows we have no other alternatives and we have to make this programme work. His realism is almost fierce, and it is rock solid."

I ended that column with this comment: "Phillips knows we have a far way to go to win back that credibility with our foreign partners, and without solid growth, he and the Government will lose credibility with Jamaican voters."

Push for economic growth

My relentless push for better economic growth from about the time of the signing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, to the point of calling for the prime minister to shuffle and shrink her Cabinet and appoint a capable minister of knowledge and economic growth, may have caused Ian Boyne's irritation.

These three sentences in my column of October 3, 2014 may have caused his ire to boil over:

"Probably the worst failure of the Government is not to have targeted economic growth on its arrival to power. Economic growth is off its radar. The focus was on the IMF, and growth, if ever considered, was treated as mutually exclusive to the IMF deal."

Many of my articles in the 18 months since the IMF deal was signed have complimented Dr Phillips and his team for passing the five already-announced quarterly IMF tests. I have also been clear that the fiscal consolidation programme was necessary, even if all the arrangements were not perfect. My articles are public and available for all to read. I have carried that consistency in my radio and television commentaries.

Ian Boyne praises

However, the achievements Ian Boyne praises - meeting the stiff primary surplus and other IMF targets (through crushing taxation and non-payment of contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the Government) will continue to squeeze our economy and people to extreme poverty and destitution, while borrowing money to allow us to boast of a large net international reserves is akin to drinking salt water to quench thirst. These achievements are not enough.

So, Mr Boyne, fiscal consolidation to bring down our unmanageable debt, which I have supported publicly and often, is not mutually exclusive to achieving better and faster economic growth in Jamaica. Indeed, without this faster economic growth we really don't have any real chance of reducing significantly that huge debt burden. That is where I stand.

Aubyn Hill is CEO of Corporate Strategies Limited and chairman of the JLP's Economic Advisory Commission. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and aubynhill@gmail.com.