KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Is more important to look at the overall context and not simply the words used in the International Monetary Fund’s press releases about consultations on the local economy, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Monday.
Eustace’s comment came a day after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves gave members and supporters of his Unity Labour Party sound bite insights into the IMF report, which is sent directly to the government.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, has repeatedly said that this country is not a colony of the IMF and recently described the Washington-based, international organisation as “schizophrenic”.
“I am not looking for any praise from the IMF; let me make that plain. I am looking for praise from you,” Gonsalves said Sunday at the ULP’s convention.
“We commend the authorities for their efforts to keep the economy afloat during these very difficult times’,” Gonsalves read from the report, adding, “Commend means praise, it doesn’t mean condemn.”
But Eustace said Monday said “one has to be … very careful, when they read the language of the IMF.
“… These releases are not just written so. They are written with an intention and they signal certain things that we must be aware of,” said Eustace who had said that the IMF would have doled out bitter medicine for the Vincentian economy.
“It is not the job of the IMF that they are going to be critical of something. They will tell you what they think needs to be done” he said, noting that the government can accept or reject some, all, or none of the IMF’s recommendations.
“But they will make their recommendation based on technical information, not political. They would have accessed your economy,” Eustace further said.
He further noted that the IMF consultations are comprehensive and include government ministries, such as Finance, Planning, Economic Development and Works; the Chamber of Commerce; banks; non-governmental organisations; the Employers Federation; and the opposition.
“So, it is not just a government-IMF discussion. It is a consultation with government and all these other bodies,” Eustace said.
He further noted that while the IMF team has wide ranging discussion most of the data that is analysed come from the government.
He said the IMF recommendations are based on the findings of these consultations.
“And I want people to understand that. … All that we have is the press release from the International Monetary Fund about what they have said to the government and what the government say they intend to do. Some governments may be more forthcoming that others,” Eustace said, nothing the announcement of a two-year wage freeze in Barbados even before the IMF team left that country.
The IMF is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.