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HARD QUESTIONS! ANY ANSWERS?

 

James McCall

James McCall

By James McCall,

 

It was quite staggering when I heard Prime Minister Harris announce that, during the previous nine years, our CBI program processed some 10,777 passports between 2006 and 2015. Remembering that I had heard that somewhere in the region of $1.5 billion had been collected over that period, I immediately tried to see what the average taking per passport was, by dividing 1.7 billion by 10,777 and came up with approximately $157,000.00, which did not add up.

Then, I saw a post from Wallis Wilkin who came up with a formula, to which I readily and totally subscribe. Bearing in mind that one can qualify for citizenship by either purchasing property for at least US$400,000.00 or making a contributing of at least US$250,000.00.00, Walli hypothesized that everyone went the contribution route in order to arrive at his figure.

That figure was based upon the assumption that each of the 10k+ passport holders, was an individual, which is infinitely logical, given that it is based only upon the contribution option. As such, US$250,000.00 X 10,777 gives us a total of US2.7 billion. Converted to our currency at the rate of 2.7, it amounts to a staggering EC$7.3 billion. Expressed differently, it is $7,300,000,000.

Let’s go back a bit. After years of paying scant regard to questions about our national debt, PM Douglas finally announced, less than 10 years ago, that it was somewhere in the region of EC$3 billion. Out of that, a third was owed to our own indigenous the National Bank. We are all aware of the Land-for-Debt Swap that was supposedly put in place to deal with that. We are also aware that that was the move that led to (i) the firing of Timothy Harris and the resignation of Sam Condor, from the Labour/NRP cabinet, in January of 2013.

We are also aware that, in his effort at handling the debt, PM Douglas administered a haircut of 50% to those who had investments in certain government instruments, and halved the rate of interest that those instruments had previously realised. So, for example, if Company A had an investment of $1 million, and the interest rate was, say, 8% per annum, they were guaranteed an annual income of $80,000.00. However, with the haircut, their annual interest/income is now a mere $20,000.00, a reduction of 75%.

That was not all; and that is because we have to remember that the measures taken were either recommended, or agreed to, by the IMF to whom we had gone for help. We borrowed millions, which gave the IMF the right to impose conditions that were simply meant to maneuver us into a position that ensured that they would get their money back. One cannot but surmise that all this was done as a means of providing a scapegoat for the draconian measures that were to be imposed upon the people, even while the CBI program was raking in almost EC$1 billion a year.

The Opposition of the day, had held for years, that the idea behind making SIDF a private entity, ostensibly insulating it from the oversight of Parliament and the jurisdiction of the Director of Audit, was unconstitutional. Of course, the rationale behind that idea is now crystal clear.

When the Team Unity government took office last February, they fully expected to meet serious money in the coffers of SIDF, as anyone would reasonably do. Instead, they found a mere $200 million which was already committed. Imagine giving a friend or relative $100.00 to hold and when you ask for it, all they can come up with is $3.00. That is the extent of what seems to have happened here.

That was not all; and that is because we have to remember that the measures taken were either recommended, or agreed to, by the IMF to whom we had gone for help. We borrowed millions, which gave the IMF the right to impose conditions that were simply meant to maneuver us into a position that ensured that they would get their money back. One cannot but surmise that all this was done as a means of providing a scapegoat for the draconian measures that were to be imposed, even while we were raking in almost EC$1 billion a year.

The Opposition of the day, had held for years, that the idea behind making SIDF a private entity, ostensibly insulating it from the oversight of Parliament and the jurisdiction of the Director of Audit, was unconstitutional. Of course, the rationale behind that idea is now crystal clear.

When the Team Unity government took office last February, they fully expected to meet serious money in the coffers of SIDF, as anyone would reasonably do. Instead, according to PM Harris, they found a mere $200 million which was “…already committed…” Imagine giving a friend or relative $100.00 to hold and when you ask for it, all they can come up with is $3.00. That is the extent of what seems to have happened here.

I think it is time for some people, whomever they may be, to be asked to answer some hard questions and, in default, do some hard time.

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1 Comment on HARD QUESTIONS! ANY ANSWERS?

  1. While questions arise, perhaps intuition points this direction or that… the burden falls upon the government, if improprieties exist, to levy these hard questions. This burden should not be placed on the people. People already have questions, they are waiting for those in receipt of the hard facts and reality to come forward so the discussion can move from speculation to full transparency. In the USA, Wall Street, who created and exploited the bubble and crash of 2008 were let off… and people resent this today. Do power brokers always find ways to escape consequence of act?

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