The holidays have come and gone and many persons including business people have felt the pinch of what can only be considered as a very bad Christmas and new year.
While Jesus is said to be born on the 25th of December, (which I believe to be absolute nonsense) and there should be celebration and joy, it’s obvious it wasn’t really a joyous Christmas for the vast majority of Jamaicans. With more persons losing jobs and the cost of living going up, many people can barely make ends meet much less afford a spending spree. So everybody is suffering. It’s understandable that so many of the nation’s citizens are in a worse off position now than they ever were (not even in the 1970`s was it this bad), since the government of the day has (as I have pointed out in a previous article posted on this popular and informative blog) been pursuing an economic policy that has not brought growth to the nation’s economy.
To make it even more stark, I have seen a report elsewhere, that indicated that a journalist asked the finance minister Peter Phillips what is his greatest accomplishment since he was appointed Minister of Finance, his reply was classic. He is reported to have listed the six IMF tests that he has passed. If it wasn’t so serious, I would laugh. After three years in office, the finance minister is telling us that the best thing that he has done is to pass IMF tests that have not led to any improvements in the economy as a whole and have undoubtedly led to increased suffering for the Jamaican people. While Richard Byles, head of the oversight body monitoring the implementation of the IMF Programme has painted a rosy picture of the economy, the reality is the economy has made sure that the Jamaican people are seeing a different picture. The picture that we all are seeing is one of destitution and serious problems. While the politicians-as usual paint a picture of heaven on earth, the reality is more like hell magnified a 100 times over on earth.
When anybody goes to a supermarket nowadays it’s not to buy stuff to satisfy the desires of the heart but to buy the necessities of life. That’s one reason why the buy Jamaica Build Jamaica campaign hasn’t worked. Patriotism cannot suffice if the people are hungry. People do not have the luxury of buying based upon sentiments and patriotic beliefs, but on the bare, hard, cold facts of what they can afford. And mind you, what they can afford shrinks each day. One telling point is that the private sector, did a study on the cost of fuel in this country and realized that it is not the gasoline retailers who are at fault for not passing on the cost reductions brought on from the tumbling of oil prices on the world market- but the state owned oil refinery PETROJAM. That translates to the cost remaining high for goods, services and electricity bills right across the board.
So businesses are having a terrible time. So the question now is what will happen to these businesses and how will they cope in the coming year? It’s not very hard to understand as it will have an impact on how businesses hire and how they plan to expand. There will be more hardship job prospects diminish. It is not far-fetched to believe that the so called reduction in crime ( if we can believe the security minister) will be reversed this year, as more persons realize that their only option is to do a little murderous communism-taking from everybody to store up for themselves. It’s very sad but it’s a fact that we have to face.
Is there hope anywhere? Sorry to say-no. Not until this country’s leaders realize that the present route we have taken on is not the correct path. Some form of stimulus needs to be put in place. We cannot depend on exports to take us out of the mess we are in, because some of the major economies like the Europe and China are slowing down. What we need immediately is a local stimulus package. And am not talking about a crash program like JEEP (Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme) which it seems has indeed crashed. The present minister of finance I can understand is trying to follow what the IMF dictates to the letter to avoid like Omar Davies, and not to run into the troubles that Mr. Shaw ran into.
It now becomes quite clear to me why Mr. Shaw had so much trouble passing the IMF tests as he was concerned about the lack of a growth component to the IMF deal, even though by the time he left the economy was picking up. Minister Peter Phillips need to understand that in order to make Jamaica grow he may very well have to disobey what the IMF dictates. But according to the history of the PNP on economic matters they will not try anything new because come next election they will blame the IMF for all our present troubles. They should however look what has happened in Greece and how that nation is suffering because of the IMF failed policies-along with the other members of the so called troika group.
It was reported on the BBC on January 4th that the German Chancellor Angela Markel is countenancing a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone project at the next election to be held in Greece later this year, because anti austerity parties are currently leading in the polls. Everything the IMF puts it paws on disintegrate rapidly because their strategy for economic prosperity is wrong. Their philosophy is based on devaluing dollar, wage restraints and higher taxes, not growth by production, but growth by making imports more expensive so hopefully import substitution can be found locally. Yet still they haven’t checked if the import substitution goods or services are available locally and the prices at which they can be obtained. That translates to each of us having to pay more for Chinese made cheap products.
For 2015 we need to see a shift towards growth oriented policies to create employment for the young, middle aged and old. The old ways of muddling along hoping for a miracle to get things in order just won’t cut it. After all, God is quite busy!