THE EDITOR, Madam:
I shudder when I heard that teachers at the University of Technology were on strike and demanding monies in the billions. I started having flashbacks to the days when public-sector unions used to stick up the government for wages the country could not afford.
And what was most jarring is that it came right on the heels of Jamaica saying goodbye again to the IMF after coming out of two successful programmes. We cannot under any circumstances go back to those days when trade unions make all of us suffer.
Under the Bruce Golding tenure, the trade unions went on the offensive, demanding money that the country did not have and the economic programme was derailed. The result of that was nearly $100 billion worth of taxation under the Portia/Phillips axis of economic destruction. It went as far as patty being taxed.
We suffered a lot and we are now seeing the light. Even under the Patterson regime, one reason why the national debt skyrocketed was the appeasement of unions (because of the need to win an election), by borrowing more than the country had the capacity to pay off by producing goods and services. That led to the infrastructure of the country going into ruins.
Cornwall Regional Hospital, which is now costing over a billion dollars to fix, is a direct casualty of those dark days, and we ended up as a nation paying interest rates so high that war-torn Iraq bonds were cheaper.
We cannot go back there. Remember when we were the laughing stock of the Caribbean? Called the ‘sick man’ of the Caribbean?
Look at us now. We are the poster child, the darling of the IMF, World Bank and just about everybody. We sacrificed through our teeth to turn this economy around, and we are by no means out of the woods as yet, as our debt-to-GDP ratio is over 90 per cent.
Although things are markedly better, we do not have the luxury of profligacy. Tight economic management is still “our watchword and song”.
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner