The Top 5 Statements You (Jamaicans) Should Know About How the Elections May Affect Your Money

Today we begin a new series, Election Economics 101: Exploring issues of money, the upcoming general elections (in Jamaica) and the relationship between the two. Stay tuned as we discuss some of the hot topics that you should be concerned about during this time.

Elections are interesting times. You may not recognize in the heat of the day just how significant are some of the statements made by our political leaders for your own life. You may want to listen more keenly now.

Starting from as early as September 2011 to now, and in no particular order; the following are perhaps the top 5 political statements that may have some direct impact on your pocket, sooner or later.

1. S&P says it is likely to downgrade Jamaica if the administration changes.

Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, earlier this month downgraded its outlook for Jamaica from stable to negative.

One of the major reasons given was that, “Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s recently announced resignation has opened the possibility for early elections and a change in administration.”
This has been interpreted by many as an indication of “no confidence in pnp.” As one editorial said, “The (statement) is hardly a vote of confidence in the willingness of the PNP, should it come to office, to take the hard decisions.”

What is more critical to note however is that while “S&P affirmed Jamaica’s single-B-minus rating, which is six notches below investment grade,” (WSJ) it has signalled an impending downgrade if any government that is elected fails to approach with seriousness a number of hard issues, like the public sector wage bill.

What this means for your money is:

  1. If you are in the public sector, specifically, expect a wage freeze or redundancy (if the government reacts as its international partners suggests is necessary).
  2. Everybody else, expect even less investments when (hopefully “if”) Standard & Poor’s downgrades Jamaica (who in the heat of election will most certainly not make any hard decisions).

 2. “Almost 100,000 persons have lost their jobs.”

The President of the PNP made a statement at the PNP’s 73rd Annual Conference that, though not a secret, carries great weight every time it is mentioned.

“The JLP government would love to keep it a secret that almost 100,000 persons have lost their jobs over the four years that the JLP government has been in power,” Simpson Miller said.

What this means for your money is:

  1. It means you have much to give God thanks for if you still have money (just saying)
  2. Additionally, this statement means that your money is currently carrying the weight of an additional 100,000 people. Their contributions to free health, free education, road work – you name it. Your money.

3. Simpson-Miller’s – “We will not honour”

The statement is directly related to the elections. In opposition to the government’s plans for a number of ailing tourist properties, the leader of the opposition warned all investors not to enter into any agreement for the properties as “the People’s National Party will be returned to power soon.”

Simpson-Miller:We Will not honour!

The implications of this statement (which I dealt with in an earlier article) are bold enough to stop traffic, especially in light of S&P’s negative outlook on Jamaica for the same reason (administration change).

What this means for your money is:

  1. It may mean that your money will support at a loss properties that could be better run by private entities.
  2. It may mean less investors willing to do business with “the government,” for fear that they may lose out if “the ruling party” changes.

4. Holness’ Promise of Jobs

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that his government will “soon be delivering jobs in agriculture, information communication technology and tourism.” (Gleaner)

“Those jobs will not be temporary jobs, those jobs will not be jobs subsidised by the state. Those jobs will be genuine, real, sustainable jobs coming out of the private sector, supported and facilitated by the Government,” Holness said.

What this means for your money is:

  1. What do you think? – Call me a skeptic but if in little Jamaica, “more than 100,000 jobs have been lost since the recession” how can any promise of jobs, by any party, be viewed as anything but suspect? If they were so well hidden and could not be found for so long, what tune will the Pied Piper play to let them all suddenly emerge?

5. Simpson Miller’s – “We will cut GCT on light bills”

“How many of you can pay your light bill?

You plug out everything and leave your house for days and still at the end of the month you still pay more than you did before? Well the next PNP government will remove GCT from electricity.”

No GCT on Light Bills

What this means for your money (if the PNP wins):

  1. There could indeed be a boost in the ability of the productive sector. 17.5% less energy cost for a large manufacturer may be mean the ability to invest in developing another critical aspect of one’s business.
  2. Probably not much though if you use less than 200 kilowatt hours per month. Apparently, only about 26% of Jamaicans pay GCT on electricity.
  3. We probably would never know the full effects of a promise like this though, before a new budget is read. Free health, free education and call it free light – the money will most certainly have to come from somewhere.

Are there some statements that I have missed? Please let us know what you think.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Wildes (@AndrewWildes), a law student, journalist and aspiring author. Read more about Andrew at MaximizeMyLife.

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