More ad­vice from Augier to Chas­tanet govern­ment!

Part 2

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Augier Adrian Augier is a de­vel­op­ment econ­o­mist and St. Lu­cia’s 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year. A for­mer Eco­nomic As­sis­tant at the World Bank and Chief Econ­o­mist in St. Lu­cia’s Min­istry of Fi­nance & Plan­ning, he also served as Eco­nomic Pol­icy Ad

To get this econ­omy go­ing again, we need cap­i­tal— lots of it. It should be longterm, well priced, and de­ployed in co­or­di­nated in­vest­ment pro­grams, mon­i­tored by joint pri­vate/pub­lic watch­dogs. Ap­ply­ing this logic, Ja­maica has fi­nally achieved growth af­ter decades of degra­da­tion. The model comes highly rec­om­mended. Most im­por­tant, our govern­ment needs to en­gage the lo­cal pri­vate sec­tor: it is time for a se­ri­ous tête-à-tête. Kiss and make up, boys; the days of dé­tente are over.

Govern­ment is not the anointed mes­siah. It’s a won­der­ful role if you can pull it off, but the ev­i­dence sug­gests that you can’t. Also im­per­a­tive is a shared un­der­stand­ing of just how and why economies work, and what a hem­or­rhag­ing pri­vate sec­tor needs to heal and get mov­ing again. More in­fla­tion­ary taxes in a re­ces­sion­ary en­vi­ron­ment is just about the worst com­bi­na­tion of eco­nomic cir­cum­stances imag­in­able, and un­for­tu­nately, a very cur­rent def­i­ni­tion of VAT.

The pri­vate sec­tor also needs to crit­i­cally re­fash­ion its role as de­vel­op­ment part­ner with govern­ment and civil so­ci­ety. If we merely fo­cus on what we want, then we bring noth­ing new to the ta­ble. Eye­ing each with sus­pi­cion is not go­ing to get us any­where. At­ti­tudes like win­ner-take-all and devil-take-the-hind­most will not work. We are deep in this thing to­gether, but if we can agree that growth, pro­duc­tiv­ity, in­no­va­tion, in­vest­ment, and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion are com­mon goals, then it’s a sim­ple mat­ter of draw­ing one roadmap that we all can fol­low.

Govern­ment must re­sume its prime re­spon­si­bil­ity as fa­cil­i­ta­tor, cat­a­lyst, and guardian of the pub­lic trust. Too many side agen­das are pol­lut­ing the de­vel­op­ment de­bate, so that even well-in­ten­tioned gov­ern­ments have be­come ob­struc­tion­ist with­out know­ing how, when or why.

Now that the goody bag is empty per­haps govern­ment will stop pos­ing as the grand bene­fac­tor; the ul­ti­mate Santa Claus de­cid­ing who’s be­ing naughty or nice. Civil so­ci­ety must also now be em­braced and dis­senters al­lowed their voice. Com­mu­ni­ties should be given back their lo­cal govern­ment rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and made to feel more like part­ners. Cit­i­zens need to be cast less like per­pet­ual tak­ers, men­di­cants, and askers for more. Based on in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by the Govern­ment of St. Lu­cia, the IMF in­sists: Struc­tural re­forms re­main crit­i­cal to re­move ob­sta­cles to long-term growth. So, per­haps the late Sir Dwight Ven­ner was right: The prob­lem is not merely money. It’s lead­er­ship. Not only on the po­lit­i­cal front, but across the en­tire spectrum of our small in­ter­de­pen­dent so­ci­eties.

We have had enough talk about how best to share a shrink­ing pie: at the end of that story, we all starve. Right now, our econ­omy must grow by a min­i­mum of 5% per an­num, just to be­gin tack­ling poverty, ig­no­rance, crime and hunger. To do that, we need all our re­sources con­sis­tently and co­her­ently de­ployed.

Our prime min­is­ter pre­sum­ably sits at the top of the food chain, sur­rounded by all man­ner of coun­sel­lors and car­ni­vores. His role is to know the dif­fer­ence and to take the lead in shap­ing the fu­ture; not out of ad­ver­sar­ial pol­i­tics or civil con­tro­versy, but out of a new and nec­es­sary con­sen­sus. If he be­lieves in his own lead­er­ship and le­git­i­macy, the best thing he can do now is to bring all play­ers into the arena— civil so­ci­ety, chief­tains of in­dus­try, cabi­net col­leagues, po­lit­i­cal cronies and op­po­nents— all, kick­ing and scream­ing if nec­es­sary.

Sir Dwight Ven­ner (de­ceased) left the re­gion much to think about. He in­sisted that our main prob­lem had al­ways had less to do with lack of re­sources than with poor lead­er­ship!

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