Audley Shaw isn’t new to finance minister ‘rodeos’. I’m getting a first chance to observe him closely on this ride. He’s theatrical and best when ‘off the leash’; he’s Mr. Ray-ray. Though he tempers that in Parliament, it’s still there: watch this CEEN TV clip
He’s good for a catchphrase:
- “People need a break!”
- “Phase it in!”
- “You get the pay slip and it’s marked P.A.Y.E.”
He’s also his own caricature:
He’s been interesting during recent Budget debates, often, trying to be humorous, when delivering pain. He loves to poke his peers, especially opposing politicians. He told Mrs. Simpson-Miller her administration should be renamed ‘take-sperity’ (after the many taxes it’d levied, playing on his new mantra, ‘prosperity’). He didn’t want former finance minister Phillips delivering his ‘own dub version of history’. They took it in good humour.
Audley’s a consummate politician, happily economical with the truth: he readily cited during his Budget 2016 closing that the IMF said the exchange rate was currently ‘broadly in line with fundamentals’, but conveniently ignored that they added ‘the currency should be allowed to depreciate’.
However, sometimes when he speaks, I’m not sure what he really believes, as far as economics goes. That’ll be his test.
You see, the knock against Audley is does he have the stomach to stick with an IMF programme; history says not. His new government’s committed to continuing with it, but is he?