Reconsider pending retirement, Lisa
Lisa Hanna has indicated her desire to exit the political landscape, but this could turn out to be a major tragedy for Jamaicans. Although her tenure as culture minister in the previous People’s National Party (PNP) Administration was controversial, Hanna has redeemed herself with a slew of captivating proposals published in the Jamaican Observer.
Unlike her peers who pander to tribal constituents, Hanna is one of the few politicians trumpeting issues that people find relevant. In her articles, Hanna discusses complex issues in a simple manner to empower the average person.
Recently, Hanna pointed out that complying with the know your customer (KYC) policy of banks can be quite taxing for clients who endure the hassle of providing proof of address, financial statements, references, and other documents. Such measures are consistent with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, though they hurt the poor according to a 2012 World Bank report.
Despite the popularity of AML regulations, they fail to put a significant dent in money laundering and erect barriers for working-class people to participate in the financial market. Many self-employed people desire a business account; however, they are unregistered, indeed they can choose to register, but being unregistered should not prevent them from opening an account.
Hanna and average Jamaicans find it disconcerting that ordinary people must comply with onerous regulations, yet financial companies can ignore red flags without penalties. Moreover, these policies are not always enforced because a colleague opened a bank account with relative ease due to banking connections.
The truth is that AML requirements are crafted by developed countries and imposed on Caribbean countries even if they are inapplicable in a regional context. But luckily, citizens in developed countries are not enslaved to such regulations, because some American institutions don’t require financial statements or character references to open accounts. So, there is no reason to think that Jamaica can’t adopt flexible options.
We should find it hilarious that politicians in both parties like to protest neo-colonialism, but only a few like Lisa Hanna are willing to confront real oppression.
On another note, Hanna is embracing free market economics rather than battling for protectionism. Speaking in Parliament, Hanna informed the public that the national import substitution policy has only enriched a few by creating monopolies. She, instead, recommends improving productivity and human capital to boost agricultural production.
Hanna’s arguments are corroborated by a 2017 paper in the review of economic perspectives that observes a link between trade openness and economic growth. The savings derived from imports are immeasurable so only fools will purchase inferior products and expensive products because they were manufactured in Jamaica.
Build Jamaica, Buy Jamaica is a nonsensical slogan and it’s great that Hanna prefers economic reasoning to ignorant nationalism. Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding and Prime Minister Andrew Holness can continue to boast that they are committed to the poor; however, Hanna appreciates that entrepreneurs and innovators will propel the country into the future rather than poor people. Instead of loving the poor, she prefers to equip them with the tools to compete on a global scale.
Undoubtedly, Lisa Hanna is the free-market champion Jamaica needs to be a powerhouse and she must reconsider retiring.