Golding's analysis revisited
Bruce Golding

Dear Editor,

Bruce Golding's account of Jamaica's economic trajectory in The Gleaner article titled 'Jamaica's growth retarded by lack of economic consensus' published on Sunday, July 31 has valuable insights – even though he is no noted economist – because he has studied the history.

This I've also claimed, while even less recognised for proficiency in economics, in my May-published book Jamaica Fractured Nation Vibrant People, but without the mantle of prime ministership of which he can boast. However, his analysis also has deficiencies.

Golding strikes oil in noting the political agreement between the parties on the economic model in the 1950s and 1960s. He is right, again, on the value of political consensus, from 2008, to curb financial deficit and debt and to structurally reform our finances, especially after Michael Manley's mess-up in 1970s – social achievements notwithstanding – and 1990s. On this there is no disagreement. The concluding pages of my book also argue the need for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People's National Party (PNP) to agree on today's economic path by the JLP stepping back from its extreme neo-liberal trickle-down capitalism and the PNP meeting them halfway by articulating socialist measures less than the full-blown goal that they talk about and give the impression they are aiming for now.

The deficiency in the Norman Manley-Hugh Shearer agreed-upon model overlooked by Golding was its narrowness. The model benefited a few industries, notably bauxite; brought revenue into national coffers; and enhanced the national gross domestic product (GDP). However, the larger workforce and overall country experienced little or no improvement (illustrating GDP inadequacy as the key determinant of success or failure). This was also the problem when Edward Seaga went back to the same model in the 1980s and it cost him, in spite of its positive features, the 1989 election. Today's agreed economic path, with such a limitation, would be unacceptable.

Bruce Golding fails also to recognise or acknowledge the deficiency in the financial structure advanced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and adhered to by Peter Phillips, the PNP, and the current JLP Government. Financially, all is neat and tidy and bears much benefit. Not sweepingly, however, to a large swathe of working people. It's their belts that are tightened while the big banks rake in billions in profits. Why, asked one columnist recently, do politicians slap retirement at 65 on civil servants but no age at all on themselves as parliamentarians?

Inequality cuts through the entire society in this IMF economic model that we still pursue. It cannot be the answer to our economic need. We must look elsewhere, as my book also urges. And I strongly argue, the search must recognise the role of civil society in trying to bring the two political parties together, working alongside each other to come up with an alternative to the current economic morass.

A final point. Despite the deficiencies identified in Golding's analysis, it is its positive features I would emphasise. Here is a man who made extremely valuable contributions to Jamaica in his attention to the constitution and in moving the JLP out of its authoritarianism and, till then, narrow appreciation of local government and civil society. His work is little recognised and acknowledged. Golding still has much to offer our country, as his recent comments on his period in office illustrate.

I accept – and I was inclined to this position from early – that his motive for delaying the US Dudus extradition request was indeed his concern for their treatment of Jamaica's Constitution. He still has to explain, however, what lay behind his finally yielding and permitting the extradition to go through. Was it the impact overall on Jamaican society that was resulting? Was it the widespread demand for it from every sector? I look forward to hearing from Golding at some point of his own choosing.

Horace Levy

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