Dr. Fraser- Point of View
July 3, 2009
A reply to Hans King

I had been trying not to respond to Hans King on the occasions when he tried some cheap shots at me over articles I had written. I am honestly sorry for him for he has gotten himself in a situation over which he has no control and really does little else but to lick boots.{{more}} If he has a problem with Arnhim Eustace, then he should deal with him. To say that I must not allow my close friendship with Eustace to prejudice my intellect is absurd and he needs to be put in his place. I have been commenting in the newspaper on issues in the society long before Arnhim Eustace became a politician. I write what I know and I am prepared to defend what I write at anytime. No one tells me what to write. Unlike Hans, I am my own man and act independently. I am no stooge to anyone. I have a track record to show this. I don’t share the same views as Arhnim Eustace. In fact I don’t know Arnhim Eustace’s position on many things. I must tell Hans that I don’t need him to and that he is in no position to lecture me on the IMF. I started reading about and researching the IMF long before he appeared on the scene as a masquerader.

What is Hans’ beef? In my article of June 12, I wrote: “The rest of the year will be challenging with the country still reeling with economic problems to the extent that we have been forced to go to the IMF”. The goodly gentleman took up arms over this. What does he say? “If the assertion is meant to be taken as ‘opinion’ then it is jaundiced (perhaps prejudiced in a partisan political sense) in that there is no matrix of facts to support or ground the opinion” My statement is prejudiced in a partisan political sense. It appears that everything I write is grounded in partisan politics because of what he calls my friendship with Eustace. Has he taken leave of his senses? Perhaps he has not even written this article because the language is clearly not his own. Any student of History and Literature can easily pick up these things. In any event his name appears as the author so I would deal with him. He goes on, the government of SVG “made an application to the IMF for a low-interest loan, with no conditions whatsoever, from a special facility known as the Exogenous Shocks Facility (ESF). This is a facility open to countries which have suffered a loss of export earnings due to an external (exogenous ) circumstance or a natural disaster” It is as simple as that and here am I saying that the country was forced to go to the IMF!

On May 18, 2009, the following appeared on “Caribbean Press Releases.com”, “IMF Approves US$ 5.7 Million Disbursement for St.Vincent and the Grenadines Under the Exogenous Shock Facility”. The release states: “The global economic slowdown has caused a significant decline in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and construction activity has led to a sharp output slowdown in 2008. Growth is expected to decline further in 2009, reflecting declining tourism receipts, FDI (Foreign Direct Investments), and remittances. The country’s authorities are requesting the rapid-access component of the ESF to help the economy adjust to the tourism and FDI shock.” (The underlining is mine). So these are not my words. They come from an IMF release. So it is more than a case of a country having ‘suffered a loss of exporting earnings due to an external (exogenous) circumstance or a natural disaster.”

But there is more. The Executive Board, through Mr. Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, made the following statement:

“St.Vincent and the Grenadines has been impacted severely by the global slowdown, leading to a marked decline in real GDP growth due to sharply weakened activities in the tourism and construction sectors. The balance of payments has been negatively affected by declines in tourism receipts, foreign direct investment and remittances…”

Hans, it was not Arnhim who told me all of this. (Nor did he write it for me). It came from an IMF Release. It suggests a country that is in trouble, partly or largely, perhaps arising from the global economic slowdown. I am quite familiar with the IMF Structural Adjustment policies and realise that the Exogenous Shock Facility is not the typical IMF programme. A Fact Sheet on the Exogenous Shock Facility states, “The country ‘s economic programme should be focused on adjustments to the underlying shock, with less emphasis (mine) on the broad structural adjustment that often characterises other IMF supported programmes.”

So what is Hans about? If there was ever something that was moved by partisan political considerations it was Hans’ foolish and empty response to a simple statement of fact that I made. Statements are being made all the time about the impact of the global economic crisis on Caribbean countries. An article written by Sir Ronald Sanders which appeared in VHeadline.com on June 19, the same date that my article appeared, was captioned “The economy of almost every Caricom country is now in recession.” Is it that SVG is an exception? In recent years, we have been depending on activities in the tourism and construction sectors to keep the country afloat but the statement by Muril Portugal referred to “a marked decline in real GDP growth due to sharply weakened activities in the tourism and construction sectors.”

King’s article was captioned “Dr. Fraser’s error on the IMF Issue”. The error was that I said this country was forced to go to the IMF. Well perhaps we weren’t forced. We went as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do. Hans is a most pitiful case. He is like someone who is quick to draw his gun but cannot shoot straight. Come better next time Hans! And remember I am no yard fowl. I have a mind of my own and no one tells me what I should write. Perhaps you can say the same!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.