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Letter: The charade of the Portia Peter Tango (PPT)
Published on February 15, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

While Peter and Portia do their IMF tango, the working poor continue to hemorrhage from a feeding frenzy by vampire creditors.

The two Ps (not to mention Dr D) were very concerned in 2010 about how much our poor creditors would suffer from what was then the first JDX. And now in 2013 they feel guilty and conflicted that they are now forced to carry out a JDX Two.

They feel guilty because even though they have protected the "principal investment" of our dear patriotic creditors (no haircut), they were forced to commit a grave injustice against them by once again extending the maturity date of their bonds with lesser, yearly interest yields.

In formal economic terms this is called "exchanging high-interest, short-maturity debt instruments for lower-interest, longer-maturity coupons." Phillips is claiming that this will "make possible the reduction of our debt to GDP ratio by 8.5% or around $17 billion per year between now and 2020."

What a tremendous sacrifice this is for the privileged few who just sit back waiting to cash in their coupons and live off the labour of others!

The truth is that the "sacrifice" made by these creditors goes right back to them through greater sacrifices from the working poor in order to pay principal and interest due to them -- even if extended over a longer period. Unsustainable debt is a vicious circle.

That is the purpose of the IMF insisting on achieving a greater budget surplus -- so that creditors can be repaid.

The government has given no commitment to use the savings from this inconvenience to the creditors to invest it in social services or infrastructural development or maintenance. Just as happened after JDX One, the debt will continue to skyrocket because the government still has to borrow money to pay interest to all the creditor sharks.

What was implicit if not explicit based on what was said by the two Ps was that public sector workers, social services, and needed infrastructural development, will continue to bear the burden of debt. After all, the fiscal deficit still has to be cut.

What was also not dwelled on, is the implications of the fact that the government has yet to come to a formal agreement with the trade unions either in terms of wages or job redundancy.

We know that a wage freeze is being proposed but it is not clear if the total package also includes redundancy. The finance minister emphasized that a wage to GDP level of 9 percent has to be achieved by 2015.

It is more than scandalous that the two Ps made no mention of cutting any of the billions within the budget that go towards the "unproductive consumption fund" that is soaked up by the upper echelons of the unproductive class like themselves. The army, the governor general, the parliamentary ombudsman and many more are examples of institutions that could be significantly reduced or eliminated without being missed.

Phillips, for example, has yet to explain to the people of Jamaica why it was necessary to purchase a US$32,000 car at taxpayers' expense so that he can be chauffeured around. This extravagance, backed up by Portia's claim that the elite must be given special privileges because of their personal sacrifices to represent the people, is all the reason why the working poor cannot afford to buy into their charade about sacrifice.

We continue to maintain that the entire debt must be repudiated, including the foreign portion which was not mentioned by the two Ps.

Debt exchanges as announced by them is nothing more than a two card trick designed to make it appear that the rich have sacrificed and now it is the turn of the working class to sacrifice. This attempt at anancyism must be rejected.

In addition to debt repudiation there needs to be radical progressive taxation.

Cut the unproductive consumption fund to the bare bones.

The government says it is going to make all the necessary accommodation to the private sector to monitor and approve its actions, well why not adopt the same approach towards the people?

Now is the appropriate time, therefore, for the various sectors of the people, in the factories, the offices, the communities, and on the farms, etc. to set up their own citizens councils so that a peoples' approach to debt, sacrifice and development can be nationally ventilated and decided upon as a way of moving forward.

Lloyd D'Aguilar
Campaign for Social and Economic Justice
Reads: 4290

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