Broken promise? - Opposition says PM reneged on pledge to disclose letter of intent
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller on Tuesday night blasted Prime Minister Bruce Golding for breaking a promise to disclose the full contents of the Letter of Intent to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before the agreement is signed.
"He indicated that some of the details relating to the IMF programme are so sensitive that public disclosure, or a debate in Parliament on the matter, could further delay or even derail an agreement with the International Monetary Fund," Simpson Miller said of a meeting with Prime Golding, which took place on Tuesday.
Simpson Miller was addressing a People's National Party (PNP) forum held at The Jamaica Pegasus, Tuesday evening.
The Government has indicated that the IMF board is to deliberate on the Letter of Intent (LOI) on January 27, more than a week after Parliament debates the issue on January 19.
However, the Opposition has complained that Golding has broken a promise to give full details before the agreement is signed off. Jamaica is seeking to borrow up to US$1.3 billion from the IMF.
But Marlon Morgan, a technical adviser to Finance Minister Audley Shaw and member of Generation 2000 - the young affiliate of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) who attended the forum - sought to punch holes in Simpson Miller's charge that Golding has broken his promise with regard to the IMF.
"There are three tiers at the IMF. There is the middle management, who is more or less in possession of the Letter of Intent as we speak; the senior management, and the board. It would stand to argue that the board will have in its possession the LOI after the debate in Parliament," Morgan said.
However, Simpson Miller and Dr Omar Davies, the opposition spokesman on finance, dismissed Morgan's explanation.
"The fact is that the prime minister indicated to us that there were sensitive issues that he does not want to get out there. How then can we debate it in full on the 19th," Simpson Miller asked.
Davies said that, if the full details cannot be disclosed before the IMF signs off on the document, it would mean that the Parliamentary discussion takes place in a vacuum.
"What we understood then was that a Letter of Intent - which contains commitment of the government of Jamaica, on behalf of the people of Jamaica, to abide by certain rules - what we understood by a full debate was that we would be exposed to what the elements of this agreement contained, and that we would have the opportunity to voice our views as well as to make suggestions," Davies said.
Meanwhile, Simpson Miller said the Golding-led government has developed a trust deficit which will impair the ability of the country to survive the current economic tsunami.
"In addition to the gaping physical deficit and the monetary deficit, this government also has a trust deficit. This trust deficit is of the government's own making. The deficit of trust this government now faces has led to great levels of insecurity, anxiety and confusion in or nation," Simpson Miller said.