EDITORIAL: Concerns addressed head-on
The debate on the local economy has returned to the front burner of local discussion with the recent disclosure that the International Monetary Fund held its usual Article 4 consultation with the local authorities, resulting in politicians on both sides squeezing every ounce of political juice that could be had at the halfway stage in the life of the Thompson administration.
One of the latest salvos came from Miss Mia Mottley who declared on Sunday last that harsher economic times over the next six to 12 months were on the cards.
Her language was specific. She said: “What is going to come down in this country in the next six to 12 months is going to be so gruesome, that Government as we have come to know it, will not be able to remain the same as we go into the future.”
In riposte, Dr David Estwick in his usual robust style dismissed Miss Mottley’s statements as “foolishness”. He does however concede that although the economy will not grow this year, it will not worsen either.
Yet there has been the call from sources outside the political arena which speakto a need for the economy to be operating on all cylinders with a fully functioning political leadership at the helm of a Government piloting the country through perilous economic times.
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Anderson Armstrong, recently said that he thought both the Acting Prime Minister and the other ministers of Government have been careful not to be seen to be taking charge because that would be very unseemly; but it is clear that the Cabinet has to decide on a plan to move forward.
Saying that he did not think “that any of us could see the Prime Minister operating at 100 per cent for quite a while”, Mr Armstrong declared that we obviously cannot continue long-term with the Prime Minister of the country operating at reduced capacity.
Without being in any way insensitive to the Prime Minister’s illness, we feel obliged to remind Mr Armstrong that there is already a medium-term fiscal strategy in place and the Government seems to be doing its best to ensure that it succeeds.
We are therefore left to assume that what Mr Armstrong refers to, is the need for the administration to deal with the situation where we have a Prime Minister who is ill and whose Cabinet colleagues should step up to the plate and make such decisions as are necessary.
The Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle announced last night speaks very seriously to the concerns expressed and meets them head-on. Mr Thompson has divested himself of several of his ministerial duties and is now Prime Minister and Minister of National Security only; with the combined Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs now placed in the hands of Mr Chris Sinckler.
All of us are subject to human frailties, and it cannot be beyond the scope of the present Cabinet to so operate in the new reshuffle that foreign investors and local businessmen alike can rest assured that the reduced activities of Mr Thompson as he recuperates will not affect the quality of the delivery of governance of this country.
As Prime Minister and Leader of the Government, Mr Thompson’s unique style cannot easily be replicated, but his colleagues in Cabinet now have a serious responsibility to maintain the confidence that it can solve the country’s problems even as the Prime Minister reduces his workload.