Current Affairs

Current Affairs

  

  


 

Realism and manifestos

Jamaica Gleaner
Sunday September, 29, 2002

FINANCE MINISTER Omar Davies has introduced a note of realism into the current political debate. Specifically, Dr. Davies warned that whoever wins the election will face serious challenges regarding the economy's possibilities.

He listed the main challenges as the sluggishness of the American economy that would impact negatively on the tourism and bauxite/alumina sectors the economy's undisputed foreign exchange earners. The Finance Minister also mentioned the dependence on imported oil that could experience price increases, as another limitation facing the economy; no doubt because of the prominence of the debt crisis he did not refer to this issue.

Dr. Davies made no reference to the election manifestos put out by the major political parties, but his comments obviously assume tremendous significance against the background of these documents and their promises, which have implications for the national budget.

It is also significant that this warning about the need for realistic expectations, given the state of the economy, was underscored by the international rating agency, Bear Stearns, in its latest update on the Jamaican economy. Not surprisingly, the Government moved quickly to absolve itself from requiring any such advice and argued that its election promises are sensitive to the current economic
realities.

As the election date approaches, one pragmatic way to ensure that realism undergirds any further election promises is for civil society to put the matter of accountability on the top of the agenda. In this regard the noticeable increase in the opportunities for debate among political candidates is commendable. Ultimately, the electorate, aided by the media, must let the parties understand that it will hold them accountable for their promises. In any event, accountability is a hallmark of good governance.