Hon. Bruce Golding – A Worthy Captain

While most wonder about another leader’s tour in Europe, let me invite you to invest some eyes, head, and heart in Jamaica’s upcoming  budget process .

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On  last Sunday evening, Prime Minister Bruce Golding addressed the
nation with a sobering, but hopeful state of the nation’s upcoming budget debate.
golding.jpg .

 Hon. Bruce Golding

In a crisp 13 minutes presentation, he connected with his audience
by using the family budget as one of the touch points all could identify with.
Mr. Golding laid out the reality of the income generation situation.

  • Business activity that generate taxes is down.
  • Bauxite production has been reduced to a crawling pace. (related to autos & housing)
  • Remittance is down due the job losses in Diaspora.

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He then quickly added that there are some untouchable items in the budget.

The Budget Priorities

  • Education – planting seed corn for the future
  • Security – managing the crime issue
  • Health care to maintain our nation’s health
  • Assistance for pensioners

The Budget challenges ($548B est.)

The debt payment estimate is   $159B
Projected salary increase for public sector 46 % since 2006

The Share the Pain Game Plan

Mr. Golding  forgoes his 7% increase and cut his salary an additional 15% .
Mr. Golding has asked all members of parliament to take a 10% salary cut.
Mr. Golding has asked the unions to freeze their wages to March 31 level. Nurses may be exempt.
Mr. Golding asked that other government expenditures be reduced below the $70 B. expenditure of last year.

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On April 7, the budget is presented, and parliament begins debate on April 23.  This blueprint will be talked, tugged, and shaped into a government financial operating system for 2010.  It will take tough-minded leadership to shepherd it through its treacherous passage as many stakeholders will engage the process with alternative paths and perspectives.  There is a leadership quality that will be a key component to getting the job done. For those of you who swoon at great speeches, you may think Mr. Golding is in trouble.

Our Prime Minister may not possess soaring oratory magic, but what we need
is a steady confident skipper at the helm to guide us through these choppy economic waters.

The key skill is emotional intelligence – the skill of managing one’s self, providing motivation beyond money, empathy with the populous, and the social skill of building rapport in a diverse contingency. My observation is that Golding got it, and it will serve him well as he guides this process.

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What comment or feedback would you have for the Prime Minister & parliament as they make the tough choices in this budget process?