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posted 12 Jul 2018, 20:26 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Jul 2018, 21:33 ]
So what is the IMF (International Monetary Fund) up to these days? Well let’s see: they continue to tighten the squeeze on Jamaica with their forty year embrace; they are gleefully sinking their claws into Barbados, which had avoided them for decades. They have instigated an eruption of anger and social unrest in Haiti with their vicious austerity programmes.
Image result for haiti riots
All this, of course, with the supine support of the bandits and confidence tricksters, posing as government officials and politicians who
 feed like parasites off Caribbean state institutions and who feel that public funds are for them to do with as they please.

One would think that, at least in our region the IMF has its hands full coming up with mechanisms to increase the pressure on working people who are fighting hard keep their heads above water. 

But no! They taking a keen interest in what is going on in our space in the archipelago. They just holding strain and mamaguying G(rowley) with talk about the economy improving and waiting for the opportunity to pounce.

In the meantime, they blowing in the Finance Minister ears that he must implement the neo-liberal programmes that the IMF have lying on their metaphorical shelves, which they does just dust off and apply to states on the periphery of the international capitalist system. One size fits all: better fete if those states can be classified as neo-colonial.

Who better ears to blow in than the smirking de facto Prime Minister, while the de jure PM is busy alienating every interest group, faction and clique in the country with his weird comments, off putting personality and inability to get simple things done. After all, dey ent riot yet!

Some of these IMF programmes include structural adjustment policies (SAPs), according to the website GLOBAL EXCHANGE designed “to ensure debt repayment by requiring countries to cut spending on education and health; eliminate basic food and transportation subsidies; devalue national currencies to make exports cheaper; privatize national assets; and freeze wages. Such belt-tightening measures increase poverty, reduce countries’ ability to develop strong domestic economies and allow multinational corporations to exploit workers and the environment.”

So what is the IMF blowing in Imbert’s ears which he, no doubt, receives while giggling and rubbing his hands in glee. Every year the IMF sends staff members on what they call missions, which are regular consultations under what is known as Article IV consultations; in the case of T&T to monitor economic developments.

Image result for cathoilic mission to the new worldThe use of the word missions is interesting in that it ties the IMF “consultations” to the practice of religious organisations despatching missions to colonialise the spirituality of the indigenous, the enslaved and the indentured peoples. You know: missions to the indigenous peoples of Trinidad which ended up in massacres and genocide; Canadian Missions to ensure that the elite of the India-descended population absorbed European values and ways of looking at the world, including an implicit acceptance of their own inferiority.

Only this time the mission is to keep the peripheral capitalist countries paying what Fidel Castro used to call an unsustainable debt and more importantly to ensure that countries like ours are stuck firmly in their subservient places in the international capitalist system.

On July 6th 2018, the IMF published what it calls A Staff Concluding Statement of the 2018 Article IV Mission. This describes the preliminary findings of the IMF staff at the end of an Article IV “consultation” to T&T.

Hear some of the things they are urging on Imbert. You have to decipher the almost-incomprehensible jargon in which they couch their vicious advice.

“The economy shows signs of improvement from the second half of 2017, with return to positive growth expected in 2018.” Sounds impressive, but when one reads further they say “Real GDP contracted at a slower pace of 2.6 percent in 2017.” So actually the economy is not growing but declining at a slower rate!

The IMF further states “The weak non-energy sector dampened the overall growth, reflecting weak activity in construction, financial services, and trade; continued shortage of foreign exchange (FX) and slow implementation of public investment.” So there you have it: instead of the economy turning around as some would have it, the non-energy sector is really in a bad way.

Hear them again “Despite higher energy prices, energy-related revenues remained flat, due in part to fiscal incentives.” What this means is that our successive governments have succumbed to the blackmail of the transnational energy companies and have agreed to make all kinds of tax concessions, so much so that according to the REVIEW OF THE ECONOMY 2017tax revenue from oil companies fell from $16.96 billion in fiscal year 2013-14 to $1.07 billion in fiscal year 2016-2017.

Energy-related revenues didn’t remain flat, as the IMF says, but fell to next to nothing because of deliberate changes to tax policies by
Image result for imf and multinational corporations the government as applied to oil companies, which cripples our one crop economy, but had our foreign overlords laughing all the way to the bank. 

The IMF “staff welcomes ongoing reforms to enhance the fiscal regime for oil and gas to reduce tax leakages, while providing attractive terms for investment.” This is a back-handed way of encouraging the government to continue along the path of concessions to BP, BHP, Shell and the rest of the upstream vampires. At the same time they advise the government to consider “a gradual increase in the VAT rate toward the regional average (15 percent).”

The IMF bares its fangs and exposes its mission of squeezing the last five cents out of working people’s pockets when it stated: “Staff concurs with the authorities that raising utility tariffs should be guided by a rate determination exercise by the Regulated Industry Commission, and implemented with urgency.” To crown it off they also advises the government to embark on “further cost savings in education, health, and social services.”

Dealing with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the IMF further exposes its anti-worker bias by saying “Staff welcomes proposals to further increase the contribution rate and gradually raise the effective retirement age from 60 to 65 …” It goes on to call for "Urgent action…to increase efficiency and reduce labor rigidities in the public sector.”

What this means is that the government must continue giving a body beat to the Public Service Commission by staffing the public service with contract workers. Between 2005 and 2011, temporary staff in the public service (contract workers) increased from 1,920 to 12,636. Those are the last years for which I could locate figures. The situation is probably much worse now.

The IMF further advises “Greater flexibility, implemented through a mechanism that allows some market force in determining the exchange rate, would facilitate adjustment to external shocks, help restore competitiveness, and safeguard foreign reserves.” This is a ramping up of the pressure on a reluctant government to devalue the TT dollar, regardless of the catastrophic effect this would have on the standard of living of working people. How this turns out…we shall see!

The IMF is not confining itself to giving economic “advice”, but is also interfering in the political arena when it calls for the Insurance Act to be proclaimed. You thought T&T was a sovereign nation didn’t you?

So there we have it. Imbert has at his disposal a whole range of mechanisms devised by the IMF, which he seems very eager to implement, once the political situation permits. These measures transfer income from the pockets of working people and the poor into the pockets of the one percent and their numerous hangers on and parasites. These elements are determined to push through with their neo-liberal programme designed to widen the growing gap of inequality between the one percent and the rest. And why not! After all, we ent riot yet!