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‘Unprecedented times’

ENDY JAY

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I have deliberately chosen to remain quiet for some time, staying aloof from the columns of ‘Forum’ to allow events to unfold that gradually and apodictically confirm the ‘unprecedented times’ we are living, to which I often drew attention in my previous notes, to add to a warning that has been sounded, worldwide, with the mettle and determination, as it were, of a cavalry charge. And it will be a conceited attempt to attribute the incapacity of human rulers to cope with emerging challenges to Covid-19, only at best with makeshift arrangements, often of no avail or that backfire.

     Granted, coming from nowhere  – but prophesied in the Bible centuries ago as one of the forerunner signs –, the pandemic severely battered national economies, forcing the world into an unprecedented planetary lockdown, not even sparing the economic powerhouses, with all the miseries it has, so far, left in its trail with no sign of subsiding. Contrary to what political rulers and overlords of the business world are attempting, awkwardly, to make believe, the virus is still on the rampage even mutating driving human efforts to the limit to parry.

     Now for a cursory glance of events if only to underscore the manner crucial matters are handled. We start with the Budget 2021-22, with the usual  nerve-racking scenarios: everything right on track towards pre-Covid 19 normal, if not El Dorado from the majority benches, with the expected profusion of praises for those at the helm, especially the ‘Leader’ for his uncommon pragmatism and vision and another opportunity for some of the neophytes to talk tall  while reciting from their written notes, but restricted in any theatrical demonstrations from the seated position. On the other side, everything amiss, doom and gloom ahead. For the sake of impartiality, I’ll make abstraction of what was said in the National Assembly – ‘august’ do they say but where one can utter such words as ‘bous to …. ta …..’, with impunity because as one columnist put it, ‘…parce que la très pointue Cybercrime Unit n’a pu établir qui a prononcé ces jurons’. Had these words come from ‘that side’ of the House, that Unit would it have demonstrated how ‘pwinti dan de bout ‘ it can be?

     So to come back to the Budget, we must rather turn for enlightenment to reputed independent economists. They agree on this and that while disagreeing on other measures, albeit in less virulent terms than Opposition speakers. But one thing such independent economists invariably underscored, as often by Opposition members, was the inappropriateness of some measures that do not rightly address some priority areas, while raising doubts on some projections that, in their opinion, defy reality. One striking example was in the form of ‘Comment va-t-il balancer son Budget? Enough to suggest, just as the Opposition unfailingly stressed, there has been a manipulation of figures and acrobatic tactics to hide the real state of the economy.  And in terms of manipulation, there is no prize to guess the champions. Yet, for the time being the ‘Chancellor’ has the benefit of doubt. But time will tell. And what!

    Moreover, we seem to be forgetting, or rather our political masters – making abstraction of the cleaning of some portion of our beaches or planting a few trees, ‘pour la galerie’  – what prior to Covid-19, in the eyes of leading world experts, was the biggest challenge humanity ever had to confront: ‘climate change’. At the time I am writing this note, large parts of Germany and Belgium are reeling under the trying effects of devastating floods Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, has described a national catastrophe. Of late, many leading experts have stressed climate change will cause far greater damages than the pandemic. Without being experts, we tend to agree.

     To cut short, I’ll simply remind what recently one of the top guns of the Private Sector, manifestly elated, and with an axe to grind,  by Government’ decision to reopen our frontiers this Thursday 15th instant, had this to say: ‘Le pire est derrière nous.’ Derrière nous? Attendons voir! Trading lives for dollars and euros!

July 2021

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