Good is that the proposed bank withdrawal tax was withdrawn. I think that episode holds many lessons for Jamaica’s finance minister, the PM and for ministers in general, and I wrote about that earlier in the week. Lots of people commented to me about the effectiveness and simplicity of the tax, but those were also the points of contention, in my mind. I felt, and many comments I heard also from people was that the constant tapping of the low-lying fruit, what I call the ‘hakuna matata’ mentality is just wearing people out.
Go after the difficult to catch (and it’s a simmering issue in the matter of dealing with electricity theft), especially those know to be friends and sympathizers. Stop going after the soft options. I think those who have eyes and ears working well will realize that Jamaica has a population that can wrestle with issue and express its opposition without having to mount barricades and torch buildings. The other lesson that was clear was that badly prepared politicians are a sight not pretty to behold. Sorry, to point fingers but the PM and finance minister deserve every squirming minute of agony they get from having to watch video replays of their not-finest moments.
Bad, going on ugly, is the case of the 234 Nigerian school girls who have been abducted. The latest I read is that US Secretary of State John Kerry has vowed that Washington will do “everything possible” to help Nigeria deal with the armed group Boko Haram, who are the abductors. The kidnapping is wrong on so many levels, and having three daughters makes this situation so very discomforting. Whatever pacifist views I have got stretched to their limits when thinking about how to deal with the perpetrators. Give me strength! I’m curious, though, in all this mess, how the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa, scheduled for Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, will just roll off like ice on hot metal. Just have to say “Goodluck, Jonathan”.
Ugly goes to the imbroglio–a word that is almost onomatopoeic–about who will be Jamaica’s next energy provider. The energy minister so wants it to be EWI, that’s apparent.
Why? That’s curious? How? By all means possible, it seems. As with the bank withdrawal tax, the government is seeing a base of support for its action that is absolutely crucial start to walk away at a fast clip. Civil society and private sector groups are saying that they don’t like the odour that is following them around because of the company they keep. It’s part brinkmanship, but it’s also good that bedfellows start to complain when the covers keep getting pulled off the bed. Stop it! Anyway, the story is moving on apace, with a new twist being that some Chinese ‘interest’ is there to help EWI out of its financing predicament: “Chinese suggested that they were willing to work with EWI, and vowed that they could secure the necessary financing from China’s Ex-Im Bank to get the 381-megawatt project going,” was what the Observer reported. Jamaica’s relationship with Chinese investors is another area where government had better watch out for public reactions.