HE TOO BRIGHT!

It’s on You-Tube. Check out Kurt Allen“Too Bright”, and you’ll see and hear the terrific performance.

Well, Kurt Allen could well have been singing about St.Kitts & Nevis, because our Prime Minister is also bright. In fact, he’s bright for spite. And because of that, our country is, without a doubt, in a plight.

Only a week ago, the IMF published the Report on its Article IV Consultation with our Government which it had done on July 7th,2010.

Here’s what the IMF said:

1.Economic activity contracted by an estimated 5.5% in 2009. It’s expected to decline again in 2010, and to remain depressed over the medium term.

2. The fiscal situation has deteriorated significantly and is projected to deteriorate markedly to a primary deficit( not surplus) of 6.8% of GDP in 2010 

3. The public debt ratio as a percentage of GDP increased by 15% to 185% at the end of 2009, and is expected to rise higher in 2010.

4.Arrears on energy imports continued to accumulate, and the debt-service burden leaves no room for fiscal policy to respond to adverse shocks.

5. The Government’s heavy reliance on local financing has led to the high exposure of the banking system to public sector debt; and this and the high debt pose a major risk to macroeconomic stability.

6. Moreover, there is the risk of spillover to other OECS countries if a fiscal crisis were to develop and undermine public confidence.

The IMF therefore recommended that the Government forge a national consensus for reforms to bring down the public debt, to increase competitiveness, and to help the economic recovery.

And it advised the Government to stand ready to take forceful additional measures, as needed, to ensure macroeconomic stability.

Institutions like the IMF aren’t given to extravagant and careless talk. So it’s plain to see by the language in its current Report, that the IMF considers the situation in St.Kitts & Nevis to be very, very serious.

The tragedy is that the situation could have been avoided. Because if you look at IMF Reports on St.Kitts & Nevis over the years, you will see that it has been worried about us for a long time. But our bright-for-spite Prime Minister has, for the most part, played for time so that he could finesse and ‘BS’ the IMF, and manipulate the people of this country, in his singular quest to win elections and remain in power.

Let me share pieces of the IMF Report for the year 2000 with you.

It stated that the main challenges to the Government back then were : to narrow the Government’s deficit, to reduce losses of the sugar cane industry, to finance the deficits of the industry through the budget, to set up a social safety net for sugar workers, to seek World Bank assistance with regard to the industry, to strengthen the banking system(which had been financing the growing public sector deficits), and to strengthen external competitiveness.

The IMF urged a combination of tax reforms, including base broadening, and including VAT, as well as spending restraint, with the aim of achieving a balanced budget by 2003, as had been agreed with our bright PM in its 1998 emergency assistance program after Hurricane Georges.

And with appropriate, efficient, responsible and disciplined leadership by our bright PM and Minister of Finance, the IMF believed back then that the Government’s debt-to-GDP ratio could peak at 75% in 2004, then it would decline gradually thereafter.

Poor them! And poorer us!

That was the Report of 2000.But while the IMF was on one page, our bright-for-spite PM was on another. While its concern was fiscal prudence and achieving fiscal and economic stability, he was focused on power.

And whenever there’s a dichotomy between a country’s best interests and its leader’s ambitions, the country needs, for its own sake, to sack the leader instantly. No elections necessary.

Despite the cautions of the IMF, and despite the hard cold facts, our bright-for-spite PM kept sugar for a further five years, by which time it ran up a debt of over $400 million, much owed to National Bank, and every penny of which was added to the national debt, thus further widening deficit and weakening the economy. And with the sugar industry debt spiraling, the National Bank took up more and more land as collateral, thereby further eroding the Government’s asset base.

Then he started borrowing more money to throw it, like a drunken sailor in a strip joint, at La Vallee, Whitegate, and Potato Bay; to pay a specially anointed private company for civil works projects instead of  having Public Works do the work; to provide comfort and other indulgences for persons whose taste for luxury and opulence at taxpayers’ expense is nothing short of sinful; to waste public money renting buildings all over the place; and so on.

He rented generators( which are still operating, at great cost, after, what, five, six years?). He swelled up the staff at the Port Authority to over 400 when it should have never exceeded about half of that. And the Port’s debt soared to above $200 million.

He swelled up the public service to a clearly unsustainable 6,000 employees in a country with a population of 45,000 people. And while he was increasing the cost of operating the public service, he was, also like a drunken sailor, giving some ridiculous concessions( contrary to law in a number of cases, according to legal advice).

Our bright-for-spite PM’s reckless spending and give-aways drove the public debt out of control and deprived the Treasury of massive amounts of much needed money. We’re talking, not hundreds of millions, but billions, of dollars over the years!

No CEO or CFO would be allowed to keep his job with that kind of record. In fact, he might even lose his freedom.

Yet all the while he has been able to raise and sustain an army of people who, at the right time, would chant in harmony “eeh ah wuk” so that he could win an election.

But after the elections of January 25th, this year, safely, (he thinks) ensconced once again in the driver’s seat, he figured it was time, after ten years of hemming and hawing, to start heeding the call of the IMF.

He was now ready to punish the good people of this country. For the double salary that he paid to public servants, including people on the YES Program, last Christmas, in spite of the fact that the economy was not in  sufficiently good shape to justify it, he now set about to make them and the rest of us pay a hundredfold.

After virtually bringing the economy of this country to its knees, all too willing to sacrifice it and throw us all under the bus so that he could keep power, he set about to punish us with more and more taxes and charges.

He jumped on the VAT train, and said that we had to have it this year. No time for any more notice, public consultation and education. Now! So we now have the VAT.

And what does he do? Wrong and still playing strong and, as we say, ‘boosterdul’. Hear him: ”If any business that is not VAT registered charges  the 17% , we’ll prosecute them”.

That’s too simplistic a comment from a man who is so bright.

And he said that VAT would replace ten taxes. It has, but some of those that it has replaced have already been reintroduced. 

But it’s not only VAT and these other taxes that he’s forcing down our throats in a hurry now. He’s insisting that new electricity rates, which will show increases between 30% and maybe as high as 90% must apply effective November 1st also. And he hasn’t had the decency or respect to tell the general public.

But, if we let him, the next  time voting comes around, he will try to find something else to bait and fool us with.

Denzil Douglas is bright. And bright for spite. That’s why he has not run the country right and why we are in this sorry plight .But he isn’t so bright that we will allow him to play us for fools and take any more advantage of us.

He has to go. The movement to sack him is gathering momentum, and it is now ripening from rhetoric to action. He has mistaken the people’s relatively quiet forbearance for foolishness. And it’s about time he pays for that.

Because he too bright!

Come, join this historic and necessary action. This is not Labour, PAM or anything politically partisan. This is a nation coming together to clean up after a disaster has struck. In this case, a disaster named Denzil ‘Bright-for-Spite’ Douglas.

You know how to get in touch with me.

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