Letters to the Editor

Is Andrew Holness abandoning laissez-faire politics?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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Dear Editor,

On a visit to the Mustard Seed Communities project recently Andrew Holness is reported to have said, “Prosperity doesn't just happen, and if we believe in the trickle-down theory nothing would ever trickle down — so you have to literally manage prosperity so that it reaches the people who need it.”

I'm very happy to read that he has thus admitted that creating a sound financial platform for growth is not enough, that governments need to do more to intervene when the local private sector remains (in Jamaica) sluggish in its response.

It was not long ago that Holness effectively rebuked Jamaica's private sector for not responding to the supposedly encouraging economic climate. Yet I remain concerned. His comment was made in the context of a social enterprise, not an economic one, as he mistakenly described Mustard Seed. Such enterprises can do more, he said, which can be read in two diametrically opposed ways: either it is a gross insult to the likes of Mustard Seed, Food For the Poor and many church outreach programmes, or it may be an acknowledgement that much more of the type of work these entities do is needed. But this leaves open the question of who is to take up the challenge.

Will Holness offer these entities additional funding and then wipe his hands of any responsibility for “the people who need it (their help)”? Will he be looking to private and social enterprises to take on the work of a Government hamstrung by its continued austerity economic programme? — One which clearly pleases the financial sector.

He has said as much in relation to the social component of the zones of special operations (ZOSO).

Will the only social response to austerity continue to be the ever-expanding Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) — an admission that the falling rate of unemployment is still not creating viable livelihoods for many of our citizens? Or will there be a complete revamp of our infirmaries, our approach to social care, etc, and also an end to the raiding of the National Housing Trust's funds so that Food For the Poor is not the only provider of homes for those in the low-income bracket? All while there is an insistence that our expanding business process outsourcing (BPO) and tourism sectors provide secure, living incomes with modern benefits and that our banks are no longer allowed to rip us off and make mega-profits.

Will Holness, indeed, accept that prosperity will not reach the people who need it whilst pursuing a hands-off, laissez-faire approach to the real economy and society?

Paul Ward

Campaign for Social & Economic Justice

Kingston 7


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