What Brand­ford sug­gested

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Finance - Wild Coot

IN THE SUN­DAY SUN of Oc­to­ber 21, 2018, Al­bert Brand­ford high­lighted the word ‘fum­ble­ma­nia’ with re­spect to Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sions, and we need to an­a­lyse his ob­ser­va­tion.

It is all right to be com­pas­sion­ate, but can you run a coun­try that is in se­ri­ous cri­sis on com­pas­sion? “Fum­ble­ma­nia” con­notes an ef­fete, stum­bling, dither­ing ap­proach and not a struc­tured planned ap­proach as in­di­cated by BERT (Bar­ba­dos Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme).

I have said it not once, not twice, but many times, that the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion did Bar­ba­dos, led by a fid­dling lead­er­ship, the worst pun­ish­ment any ad­min­is­tra­tion ever did to a coun­try.

Prime Min­is­ter

Mia Mot­t­ley’s ef­fort to clean up the place will gen­er­ate ha­tred for her be­cause of the dras­tic mea­sures she will have to put in place in or­der to stave off de­val­u­a­tion, and I await our re­sponse. To be sure, not each mea­sure will be 100 per cent cor­rect, as trial and er­ror will at­tend this un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion.

Ac­cess

Many were the times that I com­plained that the Cen­tral Bank fa­cil­i­tated the ac­tiv­i­ties of the ad­min­is­tra­tion by al­low­ing ac­cess to

$50 mil­lion per month more than it was able to col­lect in rev­enue in or­der to pay Gov­ern­ment ser­vants or sup­port statu­tory cor­po­ra­tions

. . . . You, the pen­sion­ers, sup­ported it de­spite the many warn­ings that your in­vest­ments will be re­paid by new bonds ex­changed for due bonds. It came to pass and worse.

The banks were forced to sup­port it. So do not blame the banks now for a rear­guard bat­tle plan that has more ar­tillery to un­leash. Not only will we see a ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of ser­vice, but also the com­pe­ti­tion to banks from the sand­box tree pol­icy will make the banks more cau­tious.

Per­haps, we should be cog­nisant of the words of ECLAC’S re­cent re­lease on the Caribbean and Latin Amer­ica when it states: “The ac­tive role of fis­cal pol­icy in the re­gion in terms of rev­enue and spend­ing must be bol­stered. In this sense, it is es­sen­tial to re­duce tax avoid­ance and eva­sion and il­licit fi­nance flows.”

Hu­mane

Mot­t­ley is try­ing to be hu­mane in the way that BERT’S re­cov­ery is go­ing about in dis­tribut­ing some dire mea­sures. Left to me, I would fol­low the ad­vice of that Ital­ian fel­low Machi­avelli who said words to the ef­fect that harsh mea­sures should be in­tro­duced all one time and not by piece­meal.

The amount of money in sup­port of the econ­omy that the Cen­tral Bank will be al­lowed to print will be dras­ti­cally re­duced for the pe­riod end­ing the end of

March 2019, as against De­cem­ber 31, 2018.

What scares me is the de­bate now about who was hired first or who was hired last. Is no con­sid­er­a­tion to be given to who will run Gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciently with a dras­ti­cally re­duced team? Do not even think of it when talk­ing about re­hir­ing dis­missed staff in or­der to do Gov­ern­ment’s ser­vices on­line. That is a spe­cialised job bet­ter farmed out to a pri­vate sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tion.

When the at­tri­tion is over, whether it will be 1 500 scalps or more, ha­tred will em­anate from the harsh mea­sures that will be blamed on the present Gov­ern­ment.

This is un­for­tu­nate, but that is how it has hap­pened in Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Ire­land and other places with a takeover gov­ern­ment that is try­ing to ar­rest a vir­tu­ally hope­less sit­u­a­tion. We have seen ri­ots and dis­sat­is­fac­tion even when help has been forth­com­ing.

What the finds wrong is the Gov­ern­ment’s in­sis­tence that the per­pe­tra­tors of the in­jus­tice should go scot free, some claim­ing now to be pri­vate cit­i­zens. The Gov­ern­ment may live to re­gret han­dling the per­pe­tra­tors with kid gloves.

Unit­ing re­gion

There is an ar­ti­cle, re­cently pre­sented by our am­bas­sador to CARI­COM, ex­hort­ing us to ex­am­ine the ben­e­fits of se­ri­ously unit­ing the re­gion. It would be good if we can take his rec­om­men­da­tions to heart. Many of the rec­om­men­da­tions are al­ready be­ing pur­sued by the Mot­t­ley ad­min­is­tra­tion and should not be char­ac­terised as “fum­ble­ma­nia”.

What is hap­pen­ing now in Guyana and An­tigua in re­spect of the pur­chase of Sco­tia­bank by Repub­lic Bank is an­other demon­stra­tion of politi­cians un­able to see the big­ger pic­ture of CARI­COM, and yield­ing to the nar­row de­mands of lo­cal in­ter­ests. The strength that Repub­lic Bank can bring to An­tigua with fi­nan­cial as­sets in the re­gion of US$10.5 bil­lion, as against US$.5 bil­lion of An­tigua Com­mer­cial Bank, speaks for it­self.

Cor­rec­tion: Repub­lic Bank op­er­ates in Trinidad, Bar­ba­dos, Cay­mans, Guyana, Suri­name and Ghana with 577 branches.

Harry Rus­sell is a banker. Email qui­jote70 @gmail.com.

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