Can’t Oppositions Ever Suggest Things?

Okay, yeah, Jamaica is screwed. I know. Even though we apparently got our IMF deal (whopeee! we’re saved! -_-), for now, we’re still pretty screwed. But FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Can’t our politicians, particularly those in Opposition stop the bickering and start actually making gainful suggestions?! (How I feel right now ———>)

You see it when either side is in power; If the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is in power (although maybe I should say ‘office’ since ‘People Power’ is synonymous with the other party) the People’s National Party (PNP) is bickering. When the PNP is in power the JLP is always having a hissy fit, especially the one formerly known as ‘Baby Bruce’ Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness. Yes these politicians supposedly have our best interest at heart, although you wonder how the country got to where it was if that’s the case, but its always each side firing one missile after the other in response to some new pronouncement, usually made by the incumbent Government. Pretty much like this game really. It’s like both sides are two 5 year old kids, and the country is a toy. Even though one 5 year old had the ‘toy’ for 18yrs before the other got a turn for 4yrs, its as if they just take turns cursing the other about how the toy is being used! I’m sick of it!

Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips came out with this message (it’s really important you click these links this time), and then shortly after the Opposition Leader and the Former Youth and Culture minister came out with this and then this! (See picture above and say it with me, AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!)

I have two massive contentions with this behaviour.

ONE: Why must the Opposition always be so reactive? How about a proactive approach? They already know what needs to be done in most instances; why not give suggestions beforehand instead of coming with the “when we were in government” and “we would not have done so and so and so…”?
Then they can say, we suggested x, y and z, and if not accepted then they would not be the ones to blame. But this reactive nature after everything will not cut it. Look at the Private Sector Working Group. Last year, we remember clearly how they proposed to widen the GCT net, but lower the rate to 12.5% as opposed to 17.5% (simple terms: tax everything, but lower GCT) as well as other suggestions. Clearly the government didn’t accept all aspects of the proposal, but included minor parts in their first attempt at “tax reform”. The Opposition for the most part called the proposal “Poison” as per their Leader Andrew Holness, instead of taking the PSWG’s approach to give suggestions beforehand. This wait and see approach really. CANNOT. work. What did they suggest for this second attempt? Huh? What’s that? I can’t hear you… Oh right.

ZERO.

Disclaimer: If they did correct me please, but I’m pretty sure it was the whole wait and see thing again)

TWO: I’m tired of the opposition just declaring anything they don’t agree with as rubbish, or just saying it won’t work. What would you do if you were still in government is the question they need to answer and outline to the Jamaican people, but most times they tend to look back on what they already did while in government. Prime example in the Friday Feb 15, 2013 edition of the Jamaica Gleaner from Andrew Holnesss (direct quotes italicised):

“The Jamaica Labour Party can’t be compared with the People’s National Party, we are not the same,” he declared. “We would not have come with a JDX2 (a second debt exchange after the Jamaica Debt Exchange introduced in 2010), it’s not the right time,” he added. Holness asserted that the policy that should have taken precedence was fundamental tax reform. “Fundamental tax reform is not part of the austerity package, but part of the growth-inducement package,” Holness stressed. “When we were in Government … we divested Air Jamaica because getting rid of the loss-making enterprises was one of the low-hanging fruits, you do that first,” he stressed. Added Holness: “The time that you are at now is tax reform. And the Government simply did not understand it.” 

Still waiting to see him say what they would have done. Anywho…He went on to add:

“They were the ones who spent quite a bit of resources, admirably so, to bring to the table a proposal,” asserted Holness. However, he lamented that the Simpson Miller administration squandered that opportunity. “Fundamental reforms were necessary and therefore tax reforms should have been done within the first two or three months after the (December 2011 general) elections.” Said Holness: “You would have been in a better place because tax reform is not about increasing taxes, it is about simplifying your tax system and increasing your tax base.” The opposition leader said the path undertaken by the Portia Simpson Miller administration in unloading a heavy tax burden on the shoulders of Jamaicans was definitely not the course to pursue at this time. “Our issue has always been with timing and sequencing,” said Holness. “You must bear in mind that you are conducting a debt exchange in an environment of great uncertainty, declining confidence,” he added. Holness said when the Bruce Golding administration executed the first debt exchange, there was economic stability.

YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?! Always looking in the past with scant regard to the present, with little or no hint to what they would have done had they been in this position.

This kind of governance cannot work. It will never work. We will always be in the same kind of mess with this kind of approach. Sadly (or maybe I should say thankfully) I am not in government or educated in economics to suggest what exactly to do (guess I have to just gwaan drink the bitter medicine), but as a young Jamaican hanging onto the last thread of hope that his country may turn around for good, this is my two cents. Am I saying the opposition (whether JLP or PNP) absolutely ALWAYS complains and NEVER suggests anything? Of course not, they have their positive moments. But they are too far and few, between the constant bickering, bawling and finger pointing.

Now the big picture is this IMF Agreement. Bickering or not, I’m pretty sure the fund will stand over the government with a proverbial whip in hand to ensure that the elements of the agreement are upheld. Let’s see if the Opposition remains content in sitting back, arms folded, lips pouted, just watching.

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As always, you know what to do. If you think I’m JLP, PNP, CURE, NDM, Ras’ Astor Black’s Party and you waa cuss me out, leave your comment below whether you agree, disagree or you’re indifferent! And don’t forget to share!

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