The True Enemy Of The State
The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, recently came under fire for implying that the Leader of the Opposition is an enemy of the state. Many felt the PM displayed poor judgement and reckless abandon by likening a creature of the Constitution of Jamaica to a terrorist. In her characteristic arrogance, the PM refused to recant – maintaining that she simply posed a question and the Opposition Leader need only answer. As I reflected on the incident, I couldn’t help but set the comment against the backdrop of the current state of Jamaica – an exchange rate of $JMD95 to $USD1, 14.1% unemployment, a broke Students’ Loan Bureau, the 9th year of public sector wage freezes while the PM maintains a 20 member Cabinet – the second largest in the history of Jamaica (Michael Manley named 23 Ministers in 1976) , a near $3 million salary increase for herself, numerous consultants and advisors to the tune of $100 million, brand spanking new SUVs for her ministers, IMF negotiations in shambles and I could go on and on – I can’t help but ask, who is the true enemy of the state?
The People’s National Party administration was swept back into power in December 2011 under the guise of “people power”. You will recall that the country was promised redemption from a JLP administration which was characterized as “uncaring” and accused of balancing the books, but not people’s lives – whatever that means. You will also recall that Jamaica’s saviour was to come in the form of a JEEP. Jamaicans rejected the Labour Party’s proposal that there had to be bitter medicine if we were to weather the turbulent economic times, the electorate decided that the PNP’s promises (lies) of prosperity were a better bet. We were mistaken.
In his first budget as Minister of Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips unleashed a tax tsunami on the Jamaican people, every bit as “uncaring” as the budget presented in 2010 by the then Minister Shaw of the JLP. Minister Phillips repeatedly set deadlines relating to the IMF deal he could not meet. In fact, when asked in parliament if there were any sticking points in the negotiations, he denied it, only to return to admit there were areas which were delaying the completion of the negotiations. 2012 ended with no IMF deal. As people power became more manifest, we were all asked to make sacrifices, we were told we were in this together; all except the government. $60 million spent on new vehicles for Cabinet Ministers, sacrifice? Millions spent on Christmas parties at various Ministries (Finance Ministry – $1.275 million, Housing Ministry – $735,590, Foreign Ministry – $357,820.49), sacrifice? The 28 member executive, and their corresponding price tag ($181.5 million), sacrifice? The Prime Minister’s refusal to take a salary cut (she earns $7,271,283) in solidarity with public sector workers who have had no pay increases in nearly 9 years, her refusal to fly economy when she travels, is that sacrifice?
The people of Jamaica have been betrayed. There is a domestic threat to the good governance of this country – the People’s National Party. There is a deficit at Jamaica House, a deficit of leadership – to suggest that our problems are insurmountable is a fallacy, it just requires decisive leadership from leaders not only concerned about remaining in office.
From as far back as 1989, the PNP became a machinery concerned with winning elections, far more than it was about good governance. Jamaicans allowed this domestic threat to grow; we have sat idly by and accepted the incompetence of this government. We have accepted the scandals, we have accepted the excuses, we have accepted the recycled and failed policies, term after term. We have accepted Omar Davies’ runaway debt – caused by borrowing our way out of the said debt. We have accepted the do nothing parliament – and yet once again we seem complacent to accept a tax burden from the Prime Minister and her allies. Jamaica has reached its taxable limit. There is nothing left to tax. This calculated ambush of the Jamaican people by Minister Phillips drips with contempt. Even more stunning was his barefaced insistence on forcing this tax package through the parliament while blind siding the Opposition. How much longer will we allow this system of taxation with little or no representation? Enough is enough.
I am angry because our generation will be called upon to bear the burden of this incompetence. It isn’t fair. We had a joint national broadcast on Monday night to be told our leaders will be attempting to do what they should have been doing for years, by the way – just so we can gain IMF approval. Where are the growth inducement strategies for the short to medium term? How are we going to create manufacturing jobs in this country? The government’s entire economic policy appears to be “Get IMF Agreement”. That is not enough.
An enemy of the state is a person accused of certain crimes against the state, such as treason. Is the betrayal of the confidence of the Jamaican people an act of treason? Is the abject dereliction of duty by a government a crime against the state itself? Reflect on these things, and then you decide who is the true enemy of the state.
*Source : The Sunday Gleaner of 27.01.2013 and 08.01.2012.