Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Sunday SoundOFF: LEFT-Hand Drivers, Need to Look RIGHT

LEFT-Hand Drivers, Need to Look RIGHT:

The Peoples National Party and their Expected Economic Crash and Burn   

Sounding-OFF:from the common-agreeable fact in the Jamaican Politico-sphere is that The Peoples National Party (PNP) historically has a tendency to be “lightheaded” on the matters of Fiscal importance and financial aptitude with the glaring backdrop of the past PNP administrations over the 2 decades, failure to launch the Jamaican economy into the further regions of the Global Economy, joining the developed Nations (U.S., Canada, U.K. etc.).

The Former ardent Socialist Party, under the leadership of Michael Manley went through a phase of Ideology crisis, falling victim to the “Red Rush” of the 70’s – 80’s communism movement that Cuba holds on to. The Party was elected on the slogan of "Giving power to the people" and its base soon became the absolute poor and working class - which was almost every Jamaican at the time, with the economic climate the way it was Manley’s Government was the main source of support for the population and instituted countless social and labour reforms such as Maternity Leave, Free Education at all levels and National Housing Trust, but was heavy burden of the Government.

We are at the tail end of a “Great Recession” can we expect our current “Team PNP” to hit the brakes before we hit the wall, turn the wheel in the RIGHT direction and put the pedal to the metal heading straight towards Economic Independence.

The signs are being written on the walls of Gordon House – already, Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips admitted on November 20, that an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might not be possible before January. After such tenuous reassurance for almost a year that we would not end the year without the crucial fiscal tool and prop up (as it were) for our nation’s development.

Hit the Brakes or the Wall

With the December 29, landslide victory and earning a mandate; it was a chance to redeem their ‘poor’ to moderate economic performance in the Manley era, through the Patterson generation (and gain back there learners license), riding high on a “Range Rover” of outrage at the former administration’s handling of a fatal extradition request by U.S. officials and a catching the “Bus” of “Populism” by encouraging “People Power” that ran over the futile attempt of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to “drive home” a message of “fiscal responsibility” by using the doomed phrase: “bitter medicine”.

With the poor in hand and the rest of the population somewhat solidly behind her PM Simpson-Miller, re-entered Jamaica house with the “600lb Tanks” in the middle of the room, awaiting to be addressed from Tax reform, Public Sector Reform to Pension Reform and the age-old issues of Crime and Infrastructure (Roads), all that after promising in the National Debate’s that IMF talks and a deal would have been immediately undertaken and signed, respectively. 

We have seen countless action towards other issues but stationary on said reforms, Jamaicans should be alarmed or even discourage as the urgent reforms are necessary for us to save the sanctity of the economy and not mirror a Greece style fall into default needing a “rescue” plan requiring Austerity.

The Somewhat RIGHT Direction

As much as leftist political backers of the PNP are invested in their party and trust in the leaders and action of said leaders, there is eerie feeling that the Government has taken a wrong turn at “Half-Way-Tree”, instead of remain on main road with a balance approach of “Fixing People’s Lives to Better the Economy” (visa-verse of the JLP’s stance), they have headed “Downtown” with their economic strategy, “Fixing People’s Lives” without any near future intentions to “Better The Economy”.

We have seen the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP, how fitting) notably described as a hand out system, wrapped as a Stimulus package and delivered empty. 
While a patched tyre is better than none, eventually a new one is needed - this must come in the form of a “Somewhat Right/Conservative” handling of the economic wheel with our nose pointed squarely on the empowerment of the Small and Medium sized businesses to grow and employ, creating a smooth, ‘green tape’ process for investors especially Jamaican and challenge the public sector to cut waste.

This must be linked with what the Peoples National Party is actually good at doing, messaging to the less fortunate and motivating them into action, use the “Will of the People” forget the “Political Will” (politicians can’t create wealth, for all), whip the people in a Nationalistic frenzy over the possibility of change, encourage the people to be their own “vehicle of movement” yet being the “Wheel of Opportunity”.

Highway to Economic Independence

Whether or Not, we get the IMF deal – be them crucial- we shouldn't be bogged down in the economic or political despair of the moment as we see that there is hope in the business community and among consumers as recent study shows.  This Government has the ability and trust of the people to bring the “Obama ‘08” sequel to Jamaican shores and ride the “Highway to Economic Independence”:  

Once we loosen the grip that Central Government has on the system and truly aim to decentralize government and divest political power, giving more responsibilities to the Parish Councils and Local Authorities as to make them more autonomous, accountable and efficient.

Once Tourism is a part of a balanced and diverse economic structure; not a sacred slice of Ham.

  • Once the Politicians dump the need to be recognized as celebrities or ‘Big Men and Women’ by flashing their gold teeth.

  • Once we commit to the prosperity of Jamaica and all those who inhabit it, no matter of race, gender or sexuality. 

  • Once the Jamaican Constitution reflects a modern democratic nation at 50 and stepping into its own, independent from Head to Toe.

Then and only then, can a Peoples National Party or any other Government formed after be upgraded from a “Learning Driver” to a “Road Scholar” worthy of chauffeuring the “Limousine” that is the true Jamaican Economy, hidden under  this “VW BUG”.

Until Then, I say to the Jamaican Public always “Look both ways before crossing the road” and to the PNP “Learners” remember: LEFT-Hand Drivers, Need to Look RIGHT!!!

Otherwise, there is an imminent feeling in the crowded VW BUG that the  ‘Crash and Burn’ may be early next year, January – maybe.