more we bite off the oil boom cookie, the smaller we get. The closer we
get to full employment, the tinier our manufacturers get in the
more money people have, the more food prices soar. The more homes are
built, the harder it gets to afford a home.
richer we get the less we can afford. Our middle class diminishes as our
we have too many more oil booms, we might disappear altogether. Our
economy is growing, yet our stock market is collapsing.
easy to forget the illiterate angry men in rags; tethering pensioners
making their humble purchases, dying quietly with no health care; and our
neglected illiterate children whose mothers are working endless shifts
when you are languidly sitting over a glass of wine at lunchtime at a
chamber luncheon in an air-conditioned ballroom with hundreds of
well-groomed men with hefty salaries who run the country.
the men in the suits are okay, we’re supposed to be okay, I thought
placidly, last month at that meeting, echoing the mood of the room.
Checking my make-up and watching the effusive handshaking between the
dapper and earnest President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mr
Ian Welch, and the robust Central Bank Governor, Mr Ewart Williams.
the two of them, the joint power of the public and private sectors, our
ship is on course and steered free from rocks.
times. Right? Wrong. Our ship has hit a rock.
short of actually pointing fingers at one another, the two men start the
oil boom, marvels Mr Welch, has done the opposite of what it’s supposed
to do. Our productivity has dropped.
are vulnerable. Our GDP growth of 6.54 is illusory, because it is not
based on higher productivity, and our ability to be globally
competitive,” but on high oil prices.
greedy focus on oil money and subsequent neglect of the non oil sector
equal to umpteen leaks in a ship, have almost wiped out our non oil
manufacturing tradable goods (a mainstay long after the oil dollar dries
up) and ignoring tourism (who will come to a country better known for its
murders than its beaches?) will sink us.
ship sinking analogy is mine, but to tell the truth, I did feel a bit
queasy when I heard all this bad news emanating from this doyen of the
are neglecting deathly leaks and instead chasing transient sectors, like
construction and services.
countries whose ships don’t sink, warned Mr Welch, are the ones that
“educated their people, invested in research, embraced new markets,
built critical infrastructure.”
are having none of that, so we’re the walking dead. This decent
patriotic executive was sounding desperate in his plea to stop the sinking
repeated: To whom much is given, much is expected, throughout his address,
as if it were a rosary or mantra that would help bail us out.
practically wept out to the Government that day, calling for urgency to
save us. He pleaded: “We need to start running—and fast.”
his lament was in vain.
Government, represented by Governor of the Central Bank Mr Ewart Williams,
is taking no responsibility. After cleverly admitting the Government is
overspending, threw the responsibility of fixing this ship back to the
private sector, blaming them for servicing the local market, instead of
expanding; talking to them like they were the little boys in the social
service arm of the Government, berating them for being lazy, greedy,
catering to the local market, for inflation, for not being sufficiently
patriotic and buying too much foreign exchange.
probably truth in some of it, but the Governor left out some crucial
points, like, where will the labour to manufacture come from when Cepep
and Government construction has mopped up so much of it? Where is the
are we among the lowest-spending countries in the world in health and
education, key development indicators? Where is Government steering our
the rocks, gentlemen.