What Brandford suggested
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.