Letters to the Editor

Not an 'ism' in Seaga's analysis

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Just when Jamaicans at home and abroad were convinced that our slow progress after 56 years of Independence was caused by the International Monetary Fund, corruption, colonialism, imperialism, cronyism, nepotism, socialism, capitalism, even non-existent Marxism, along comes former Prime Minister Edward Seaga to bury beliefs which have long provided a convenient crutch to explain away the financial disaster from which we have yet to recover.

His deep, detailed, searing, and highly persuasive analysis of the financial meltdown of the 1990s when 13 banks failed doesn't cite a single “ism” ( Jamaica Observer, July 29, 2018). Instead, we hear about inappropriate policies, bad management, inadequacies, lack of knowledge, lack of proper understanding, gross errors, and apparent ignorance, which he asserts led to a loss of 44 per cent of gross domestic product.

It appears that an entire financial, corporate and political class in the country's leadership failed the exam. So, now we know, to echo Roger Mais.

The next question we need to ask, with trepidation, is whether the current class isn't failing their exam as well. Halfway through Andrew Holness's mandate there is not even a hint of the cultural transformation which is a prerequisite for any significant national development. Indiscipline and coarse behaviour run rampant. Agriculture still performs well below par. Imports are still on the rise. The road network is woefully below par, especially farm roads. The currency continues to sink. The grotesque income inequality, which has such deleterious effects on so many aspects of national life, is unchecked. The brain drain continues. Meanwhile, we want to construct a new parliament building with borrowed money, instead of extending and modernising the current one.

Certainly, there are commendable efforts, most notably by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck to modernise the justice system and Edmund Bartlett to boost tourism, while other ministers such as Christopher Tufton, Desmond McKenzie, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Ruel Reid, Kamina Johnson Smith get high marks from where I sit. But overall progress on the main national deficiencies is slow. All this in the face of an Opposition which has lost its way and is becoming increasingly irrelevant to large swaths of the citizenry, young and old.

Errol W A Townshend

Ontario, Canada


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