Barely two months ago, we were in a nail-biting state wondering if we would be in Jamaica’s version of the ‘hanging chads’ saga that consumed American political attention during the recounts for the 2000 US Presidential elections. Our Electoral Commission (EOJ) was trying to resolve voting questions after our national election. Many rumours swirled about whether spoiled or rejected (or even stolen) ballots would be important and if the marks used would come into question. In our system, an X is the commonly accepted voter mark. The EOJ’s instructions are clear:
‘Once you have been issued a ballot by the Presiding Officer, go behind the voting booth and CLEARLY mark an X for the candidate of your choice in the space provided. Please also be sure to use the pencil provided in the voting booth.’
They even offered a nice little cartoon to help those who found the words alone insufficient.
But, the case laws on such matters show that you only require that a mark is clear and voter intention is unambiguous. So, tick marks against a candidate’s name would be acceptable, but a large X on the whole ballot paper would be rejected. Fortunately, such issues did not determine any outcomes, but the possibility got some people quite excited.
X is for exports. In standard economics, exports are one of the key components of economic growth as in Y=C+I+G+ (X-M) (income equals private consumption plus private investment plus government spending plus net exports (exports less imports). Keep your eyes open for how that X becomes more important in getting the country to the new plateau of economic growth promised by the chairman of the newly-formed Economic Growth Council (EGC, not be confused with heart-checking ECG):
“I pledge as the chairman of the EGC that the EGC will work tirelessly and passionately to achieve a GDP growth rate of five percent over the next four years, which is 10 times more than what we have seen for the last 20 years, which is 25 times more than we have seen over the last 10 years.”
X-men. The new government has done something more than a little interesting in trying to make good on its electoral mantra of ‘From Poverty to Prosperity’. It is early days, hardly two months in office, but they are clearly going for growth (see the previous point). But, they have begun the march in an intriguing way, by creating what seems like a League of Jamaican Growth Superheroes. How so? The Cabinet is led by the PM, Andrew Holness, who is also the Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation. He also has two ministers without portfolio (in the office of the PM) in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (Dr. Horace Chang and Daryl Vaz). He has also a Cabinet-level Minister of Finance (Audley Shaw), who is supported outside the Cabinet by a Minister of State (Fayval Williams), and their ministerial portfolio covers all matters to do with economic policy, so enhancing growth is subsumed in that. So, on that basis alone, the ‘growth’ agenda seems to be on track, with a plethora of economic growth ministers. Now, we’ve just had added the EGC with its stated accelerated growth mandate. But, it is topped off by a new Ambassador Plenipotentiary for economic affairs, Nigel Clarke, who is also heading the EGC’s planning committee, and who is ‘expected to represent Jamaica’s interests with bilateral, multilateral and international partners, and to promote investment and trade’. He mentioned on the radio, yesterday, already having had a role in negotiations with the World Bank. That’s even more interesting, given that it seems to predate a formal appointment, but let’s move along. With the best wishes in the world for more jobs and more activity and prosperity for all, I cannot see where all of those cooks can get space in the kitchen without stepping on at least a few of each other’s toes.