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WE NEED THE MONEY by David Walker

posted 2 Jan 2017, 10:42 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Jan 2017, 10:43 ]
David Walker
Every day we are faced with decisions. Some are big, with the potential to change lives for the better or worse. Yet the size of the potential impact does not necessarily make a decision complex or difficult. I have been following a matter for some considerable time and cannot understand the decision being made by our government.

Please permit me to use an analogy to illustrate and simplify the issue. No analogy is perfect but this one comes pretty close.

A few years ago your neighbour ran into some financial difficulties, unable to pay his bills on time. He offered you his car as collateral against a tidy sum that you loaned to him to get by. In the intervening years you now have come to face your own financial troubles. It would be logical to approach your neighbour for repayment of the loan. You would pursue them for full or partial payment with vigour, especially as you have unpaid bills increasing by the day. Simple decision.

Contrast that simple decision with one that faces the government. In fact it has faced it for all of the last year or more. Back in 2009, our government decided to rescue CLICO in its hour of need. In so doing we the taxpayers advanced over 20 billion dollars towards the cause. Some has been repaid but we are told that at least another 10 billion dollars remains due to us.

Like our friend in the analogy, we have bills to pay by the truckload. Contractors have to accept bonds (IOUs), workers are denied salary increases and many times paid late. Important projects have stalled and even Carnival has not been funded with less than two months to go.

The obvious course of action is for the government to hound the CLICO shareholders in order to effect the rapid repayment of our generous support. A ten billion dollar injection into the country’s finances would be transformational. It would allow creditors to be paid in a much more timely manner and workers could get a fairer hearing at negotiations. Everybody wins.

Bizarrely, the government is not pursuing the shareholders for the timely repayment of this massive debt. Unbelievably, the shareholders are the ones who are pleading with the government to repay the outstanding amount. In the midst of our current economic travails, our government is refusing to even contemplate the recovery of this huge advance of our money. Why?

While workers are being offered zero-zero-zero increases in their wages and contractors stop work on projects due to late payment from government, our leaders refuse to take steps to recover ten billion dollars from CLICO. The shareholders want to repay the money, as was the anticipated outcome from the outset. Is it that we have chosen to “cut off our nose to spite our face” or are there other agendas at play?

Each of us adversely affected by the government’s late payments needs to demand a change of policy. Why should workers and contractors among others suffer so badly, when a simple decision would remedy the situation? The government must move assertively now to bring this money back into our control.

Not a single one of us should be expected to accept less than our contractual or bargaining rights when a very simple decision would utterly transform the status of the country’s economy. Talk of sacrifice in this hour of need rings hollow. The numbers are large but the decision is simple. We need the money.