Letter of the Day | Is the Government speaking with one voice?
THE EDITOR, Madam:
In his opening Budget presentation, Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke appeared confident and triumphant as he declared that the economy recovered from COVID-19 and spoke about reduced unemployment, economic growth and highlighted many positive macroeconomic variables.
I was quite impressed when he outlined (if memory is right) that Jamaica was the only country in the region which had made these strides, despite the adversity in the global economy. Kudos to the Government!
But given that Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie previously outlined in Parliament that global uncertainty was one of the reasons for the postponement of local government elections, I could not help but wonder: What was the finance minister’s true position on this postponement or at least this stated reason of adversity in the global economy, given the local economy was doing so well?
Many Jamaicans may recall that during the COVID-19 pandemic there was a partial economic shutdown, contraction in the economy, compounded by billions in unplanned spending by the Government to combat COVID-19 which was one of the worst periods of global adversity and uncertainty. But early general election was called.
This must be contrasted with the fact that the economy is performing well, with billions more in revenues collected than projected, but economic uncertainty was declared as a reason for postponement of an overdue election. Seems paradoxical.
A government always wishes to maintain power and will call elections early or postpone them when this creates a strategic advantage. I was, therefore, not surprised when it was reported in The Sunday Gleaner that the Opposition and the Government are in a statistical dead heat in political ratings based on the well-respected Don Anderson Polls.
Robert Morgan, the minister responsible for information, not surprisingly, referenced uncertainty in the global economy for the Government losing ground to the Opposition.
Many factors like crime, governance style, economic performance, people’s standard of living and political scandals accumulate to determine a government’s rating. Its ratings can, therefore, fall even in a vibrant economy.
But how well is the economy performing, and are some Government ministers contradicting each other?
DAIVE R. FACEY