IMF pressuring our government to remove subsidies

Mahmud Tim Kargbo: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2nd February 2018:

It is true that in order to create decent quality of life for citizens in society today, requires massive investment in public services. But generating the revenue to pay for these services in a poor country like Sierra Leone is not an easy political task, especially with rogue national leaders partnering with rogue individuals in some of the neo-colonial institutions such as World Bank and IMF.

While the rich too often find ways to dodge taxes, the poor cannot afford to pay them. With the middle class feeling abused by the “self-serving elites”, and the “entitled poor” are in open revolt when subsidies are removed on essential goods. This is the political reason why the tax burden must be shifted from labour to capital.

In the current Sierra Leone political economy, however, the suggested policy shift will certainly be an uphill battle. Whether a political economy based on modern capitalism will be more conducive to a human economy, is an open question.

On the one hand, Government, IMF and World Bank know that with distributed technologies across Sierra Leone, and with the country’s huge mineral deposit, the greater the potential to democratise the means of production. On the other hand, the unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of a single individual with no independent institutions to fact check the Executive arm of government, points to the opposite direction.

But if the IMF, World Bank, European Union say they are here to promote democracy and they are the ones providing the funds to sustain the democratic institutions, why are they tolerating such undemocratic acts?

Is it because they are equally deceitful and  more corrupt? Why are they plotting to further punish our poor people by asking for the removal of subsidies just to squeeze the government to pay their rogue debt considering the current deplorable standard of living for the majority?

If the United States is increasing its subsidies in essential commodities why is the IMF pressuring our government to remove subsidies on essential goods? This is no longer an issue of the government, but the majority of our people who are currently sleeping in abject poverty.

Bizarre we were last told an IMF, World Bank and government  alliance around basic income schemes indicates a window of opportunity. Modern day capitalism is reshuffling political fortunes, and progressives should go out of their way to build coalitions around the need to boost demand.

After half a century of supply-side economics and cost-cutting politics, putting incomes back into the centre of economic thinking is an opportunity our government, IMF and World Bank must not miss.

Government must have understood by now that building the human economy is not a technical task, but the outcome of political struggles. Only a broad societal coalition will be able to implement the necessary policy shifts.

To build this transformative alliance, we need a platform onto which as many communities as possible can come together. This platform cannot be a smorgasbord of policies, but a narrative which explains how we can make the modern age transformation work for everyone.

What could this narrative look like? Amid the conflicts over rogue IMF policies and the government, identity and distribution transformation, we need to strengthen the foundation of solidarity among all members of the society. This can only be done through a new social contract for the Sierra Leone modern society, and it needs to be brokered around compromise among all stakeholders.

The Human Economy offers such an inclusive compromise. In essence, it transcends the conflict between capital and labour by making human capital the engine of the economy. For capital, the Human Economy offers a solution to the existential threat of collapsing consumption demand.

For the working population, the threat of mass unemployment is mitigated through decent livelihoods. And for political decision makers, the looming threat of social unrest is relieved.

The Sierra Leone social democratic path to development, in other words, creates the necessary demand to sustain the modern economy, the social security our people need to embrace permanent change, the political stability required for the implementation of disruptive reforms.

The social contract for the digital society, in a nutshell, is to provide full capabilities to everyone who is willing to contribute to the common good.

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