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Minister Wild Coot!


Harry Russell

Minister Wild Coot!

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SUPPOSE, JUST SUPPOSE, I was wearing size 13 shoes as Minister of Finance in this beautiful land of Bubadus, a singular honour, and I had the fate of hundreds of civil and uncivil servants in my hands. I too would be reluctant to cut either DLP or BLP in search of $400 million or more. I would think of the repercussions of laying off hundreds of people. Putting them on the breadline with their only skills being civil or uncivil may set them on the path to join vagrants on the block.
I could print more money and ensure that all my wards receive a paycheque every month – thus ensuring that merchants retain their staff. However, when people spend their money, merchants would have to replenish their stock, a situation The Wild Coot warned about ad nauseam.
That’s okay, but to ensure future sales, merchants need to have foreign exchange as we cannot live on potatoes, cabbage, bananas and yam – we do not have the Guyanese to help with agriculture. But wait! Could we not convert our civil servants and the boys and girls on the block into agriculturists or entrepreneurs?  
Oh no, Mr Minister, that would be a retrograde step. In the hot sun, like making them cut cane or pick cotton? We gone past that. And besides, we do not have a development bank or bankers to help entrepreneurs.
In any case, we have to cater to the tourists that we have to attract., If they come from traditional sources, these tourists are being dissuaded among other things by high taxes on travel to Bubadus (not New York) by the very people who once raped us without reparations and are now targeting our low tax regime as they try to restore their dwindling economies.
Their threat to withdraw paltry aid is blackmail aimed at our laws that have stood the test of time and kept our society in balance. I wouldn’t even comment on Uncle Sam’s lip service and efforts to change our buggery laws. In 2009 and 2013 they came to the West Indies amid much fanfare ahead of the Chinese and produced pure wind and a mouse. We do not pose a security threat, so we don’t get billions in aid. Fat lot of good it has done for Egypt!  
So you see my dilemma! I cannot even help the engine of foreign exchange growth because what little foreign currency I have is needed to pay balance sheet and off-balance sheet debt that will soon leave us in a pickle, trying to save the good name of Bubadus from reneging on our debt obligations.
Local currency I have, because I just printed a billion dollars and I can manipulate the debt to GDP, but greenbacks and pounds I have not.
I do not sleep well. I go to bed at twelve and by two o’clock I am awake reading that fellow Patrick. Scientists say that without seven straight hours sleep nightly, one’s cognitive faculties go to pot. Do you think that they are hinting that I will be the fall guy when the did-did hits the fan?
I must start some harsh measures but I do not know where to start. It may be too late. This billion-dollar reprieve will only last for a while and the situation I will have to face will be far worse. If I could get my friend to apologize to the IMF and ask him to remember the “rats in council” meeting back in 2009 when they acknowledged that hardships in countries like ours were not precipitated by our own mismanagement but by the greed and skullduggery of banks in the United States followed by banks in Britain and Europe. At the time the IMF was given a mandate and dollars to help countries like ours that have been caught in the swirling vortex of debt. None has reached my desk in Bubadus.
Two things still bothering me! Why “don’t” my Central Bank answer The Wild Coot about the US$500 million that came into the island? You mean it has lost its teeth? It could make up for the US$500 million we are searching for.
Wasn’t that fellow Wild Coot, the Jeremiah, raving about the debt trap since 2011? But he is only a petty banker. Wuh he know? Didn’t the gentleman misspeak, because Jeremiah was a prophet and was told by God not to be terrified by them and to build and to plant.  
Speaking about the IMF, Sir Richie said on September 28, 1994, “We believe that if we are going to have to endure hardships, it is better to do so on our own terms.”
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]

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