Romario Scott: Don’t Judge Shaw’s Candidacy Unfairly

audley-shaw

The Letter of the Day published in Monday’s edition of The Gleaner seems to be a continuation of a raging debate as to whether Audley Shaw should be appointed as finance minister in the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet. Indeed, there is merit to Andre Poyser’s arguments presented, but some disingenuousness as well.

Obviously, Mr Holness has several candidates from which to choose the country’s ministers, including Dr Christopher Tufton and Fayval Williams.

A feature of politics around the world is the appointment of people: loyalists, party faithful and those who have contributed significantly to the party or the leader’s development over the years. Fact: Twice was Portia Simpson Miller’s leadership of the People’s National Party (PNP) challenged by Dr Peter Phillips, who she would later appoint her finance minister. Therefore, for the letter to raise the argument that Mr Shaw’s appointment could be a political reward for loyalty is absolutely irrelevant.

The public declaration by the powerful Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the United States (US) government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they are willing to work with whichever party forms the government is enough to extinguish any fire Mr Poyser is attempting to fuel.

Yes, we can all agree that Dr Peter Phillips performed as finance minister, especially as it relates to passing the IMF tests. Nobody can take that from him, but to somehow suggest that Mr Shaw cannot do same, or even better, is an overreach. An objective mind would not compare Mr Shaw and Mr Phillips in the way Mr Poyser has, because they operated at two different extremes: one where the world’s economy was in turmoil and the other where the world economy has largely recovered with favourable oil prices.

In sizing up Mr Shaw, Mr Poyser failed to mention that under Mr Shaw’s leadership, several initiatives and institutions were implemented, most notably the junior market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange. In addition, Mr Shaw presided over an economy which was growing at 1.7 per cent – growth points that up to this day haven’t been seen in the country.

Mr Poyser should be made to understand that the economic management of the country goes far beyond the passing or the failure of IMF tests, and in analysing one’s suitability for the job of finance minister, all variables and performance indicators should be taken into consideration.

Weigh achievements against slip-ups

It is for Mr Holness to take into consideration those achievements by Mr Shaw and weigh them against his slip-ups. Mr Shaw could perform worse than he had in 2011, or he might perform better than he did. At the end of the day, he will be judged based on what he has done to improve the economic status of the country.

No one with the country’s interests at heart can disagree that the country needs to maintain fiscal discipline, and whomever is appointed to the post of finance minister should possess the capability to maintain and finish the IMF economic reform programme. At the same time, however, Jamaica’s economy is desperately in need of economic growth, and the new Government must pull together all its economic and financial minds to achieve growth.

The JLP’s 10-Point Plan is to be implemented, and Mr Shaw, as the point man for the JLP on economics, played a key part in putting together and developing the plan. Naturally, the next step is implementation, and it would be odd and highly irregular were he to be denied the opportunity.

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