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Category Archives: Socio-economic Collapse

SA’s central bank row points to dangerous levels of intolerance – South African Broadcasting Corporation

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 11:54 am

Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago. (REUTERS)

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Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago. The role of South Africas central bank is at the centre of a heated debate. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about peoples well-being?

The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate – and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central banks constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected. She also said the constitution should require the bank to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protectors findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution or democratic good sense – and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesnt understand or does not care for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the peoples will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Banks mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebanes ideas on the Banks mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Banks mandate be broadened is economically illiterate and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a serious risk to the financial system. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poors, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Banks independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Banks mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebanes excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Banks mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalents mandate includes maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek sustainable growth.

And the the Bank of Englands website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the governments economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central banks mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhans letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Banks mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protectors proposal would retain the Reserve Banks independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the well-being of the people or transformation.

None of this means that the Reserve Banks mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people who some others may take seriously raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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SA’s central bank row points to dangerous levels of intolerance – South African Broadcasting Corporation

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There is a strong economic case to preserve future of traditional fishing – Alfred Sant – Malta Independent Online

Posted: June 27, 2017 at 7:46 am

Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant told the European Parliament that there is a strong economic case, and not just a social and a cultural one, to preserve and enhance future traditional fishing in the same way that this is being done for fish stocks. Explaining his vote in favour of the report “Status of fish stocks and socio-economic situation of the fishing sector in the Mediterranean” at the European Parliament, the Maltese MEP said we can no longer ignore the fact that institutionally and economically, the position of traditional fishermen was not sufficiently taken into account when conservation policies were being drafted. In part this happened because the legitimate interests of these fishermen were not adequately represented and assessed, in the face of a fast growing and politically effective modern industrial sector.

This has got to be corrected. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness among traditional fishermen even in the remoter areas that they need to mobilise more effectively. For even now, there are some who consider traditional fishing as an economically non-viable activity which must be tolerated till it dies out on its own.

I voted for this resolution because it makes a serious effort to consider traditional and artisanal fishing as an integral part of the fisheries sector in the Mediterranean, giving members of this community the prominence they deserve, while relating it in a realistic way to the effective management of fish stocks. remarked the Maltese MEP.

The Report dealt with the dramatic decline ofMediterranean fish stocks – more than 90% of those assessed are overexploited, with some on the verge of collapse. It stresses the need to improve stock assessment (data collection, availability and analysis; suggesting a common database) as well as control and surveillance, and to strengthen cooperation among Mediterranean countries (EU and non-EU), particularly in view of tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The Report refers to preferential treatment for small and artisanal fisheries as well as the need for a guarantee for a basic income for fishermen during “biological rest periods”. The report also refers specifically to talks on the problem of poor data as regards to fishing and the need to further involve fishermen in the decision-making process. It also deals with the third country factor and the impact that fishermen from non-EU countries have on fishing in the Mediterranean.

The Resolution was approved with 558 votes in favour, 43 against, and 35 abstentions.

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There is a strong economic case to preserve future of traditional fishing – Alfred Sant – Malta Independent Online

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Reserve Bank battle points to dangerous levels of intolerance – Mail & Guardian

Posted: June 26, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago. The role of South Africas central bank is at the centre of a heated debate. (Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about peoples well-being?

The recommendation by the public protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate – and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central banks constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected. She also said the constitution should require the bank to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protectors findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution or democratic good sense – and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesnt understand or does not care for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the peoples will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Banks mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebanes ideas on the Banks mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Banks mandate be broadened is economically illiterate and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a serious risk to the financial system. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poors, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Banks independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Banks mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebanes excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Banks mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalents mandate includes maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek sustainable growth.

And the the Bank of Englands website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the governments economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central banks mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhans letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Banks mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protectors proposal would retain the Reserve Banks independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the well-being of the people or transformation.

None of this means that the Reserve Banks mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people who some others may take seriously raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

More here:

Reserve Bank battle points to dangerous levels of intolerance – Mail & Guardian

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Dangerous levels of intolerance exposed in Reserve Bank row – Independent Online

Posted: June 24, 2017 at 2:57 pm

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about peoples well-being?

The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate – and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central banks constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected. She also said the constitution should require the bank to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protectors findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution or democratic good sense – and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesnt understand or does not care for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the peoples will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Banks mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

An important debate

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebanes ideas on the Banks mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Banks mandate be broadened is economically illiterate and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a serious risk to the financial system. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poors, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Banks independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Banks mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebanes excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Banks mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalents mandate includes maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek sustainable growth.

And the the Bank of Englands website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the governments economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central banks mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhans letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Banks mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protectors proposal would retain the Reserve Banks independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the well-being of the people or transformation.

Closing down debate is common

None of this means that the Reserve Banks mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people who some others may take seriously raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Conversation

Read the original here:

Dangerous levels of intolerance exposed in Reserve Bank row – Independent Online

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South Africa’s central bank row points to dangerous levels of intolerance – eNCA

Posted: at 2:57 pm

File: The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering.

Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about peoples well-being?

The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate — and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central banks constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected. She also said the constitution should require the bank to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protectors findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution or democratic good sense – and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesnt understand or does not care for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the peoples will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Banks mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

An important debate

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebanes ideas on the Banks mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Banks mandate be broadened is economically illiterate and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a serious risk to the financial system. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poors, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Banks independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Banks mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebanes excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Banks mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalents mandate includes maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek sustainable growth.

And the the Bank of Englands website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the governments economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central banks mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhans letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Banks mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protectors proposal would retain the Reserve Banks independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the well-being of the people or transformation.

Closing down debate is common

None of this means that the Reserve Banks mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people who some others may take seriously raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

21 June 2017

Analysts said the inflation outlook for the rest of year meant the Reserve Bank may now contemplate cutting rates or easing monetary policy to boost growth.

21 June 2017

Malikane, a former Wits University professor well known for his radical views, said on Tuesday he could not comment due to his role as Finance Minister Malusi Gigabas adviser.

20 June 2017

‘Amending the constitution is something different because it means all chapter nine institutions…may feel they want to amend the constitution,’ said ANC Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

Original post:

South Africa’s central bank row points to dangerous levels of intolerance – eNCA

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South Africa’s central bank row points to dangerous levels of intolerance – eNCA (satire)

Posted: June 23, 2017 at 6:46 am

File: The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering.

Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about peoples well-being?

The recommendation by South Africas Public Protector that the Reserve Banks mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate — and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central banks constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected. She also said the constitution should require the bank to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protectors findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution or democratic good sense – and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesnt understand or does not care for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the peoples will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Banks mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

An important debate

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebanes ideas on the Banks mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Banks mandate be broadened is economically illiterate and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a serious risk to the financial system. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poors, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Banks independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Banks mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebanes excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Banks mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalents mandate includes maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek sustainable growth.

And the the Bank of Englands website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the governments economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central banks mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhans letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Banks mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protectors proposal would retain the Reserve Banks independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the well-being of the people or transformation.

Closing down debate is common

None of this means that the Reserve Banks mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people who some others may take seriously raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

21 June 2017

Analysts said the inflation outlook for the rest of year meant the Reserve Bank may now contemplate cutting rates or easing monetary policy to boost growth.

21 June 2017

Malikane, a former Wits University professor well known for his radical views, said on Tuesday he could not comment due to his role as Finance Minister Malusi Gigabas adviser.

20 June 2017

‘Amending the constitution is something different because it means all chapter nine institutions…may feel they want to amend the constitution,’ said ANC Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

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Collapsed bridge cut off over 5000 residents in llorin – National Accord

Posted: at 6:46 am

From KEHINDE AKINPELU, Ilorin Over 5,000 residents including school children of Alagbado community in llorin South Local Government of Kwara have been cut off with other communities following the collapse of the only bridge linking them.

Alhaji Mustapha AbdulHameed, the Chairman Joint Associations for the community gave the figure of the affected residents during an interview with National Accord.

He lamented since the bridge. Collapsed about a month ago, it had virtually paralysed the social and Economic activities of the affected residents.

The collapsed bridged. He added affected the acquisition of both western and lslamic educations of their children as. The school buses that normally convey the children had stopped coming.

AbdulHameed appealed to the state Government to assist in the construction of the bridge to improve the socio-economic life of the affected residents.

A commercial motorcyclist, lshola Aremu plying the route who spoke with NATIONAL ACCORD, said most residents were unable to pay for the alternative which is a long distance to other communities.

In a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for. Works and Transport, Alhaji Aro Yahaya said the state Government had awarded contract for the construction of real concrete bridge that can last longer than the collapsed one.

He appealed to the affected residents to exercise patience, sitting that the construction will commence in august when rain break.

The Commissioner advised residents of the state to always ensure clean drainaged system to curb cases of collapsed bridges.

Accord re called that Alagbado bridge collapsed on Saturday 26th May after heavy downpour which listed over five hours .

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Use of harmful chemicals for fish preservation harmful to consumers … – BusinessGhana

Posted: June 22, 2017 at 5:43 am

Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has warned fishmongers using Monosodium Glutamate to process expired fishes to halt the practice since it is harmful to human health.

She said fishmongers use monosodium glutamate on expired fish especially tilapia to let it look glossy to attract potential buyers.

The Sector Minister gave the warning at a Stakeholders Meeting on Fisheries Law Enforcement in Accra, on Tuesday, to deliberate on the best ways of halting unreported and unregulated fishing practices in the country

She said some fishmongers around the Volta Lake and other coastal communities had been buying rotten or expired fishes from some cold stores, the practice known in local parlance as Kodoso and used Monosodium Glutamate to make them attractive to potential buyers.

The Fisheries Minister said the indiscriminate use of explosives, chemicals, under-sized fishing nets, light fishing and other aggregating devices for fishing would collapse the fisheries sector if serious and pragmatic measures were not taken to address the menace.

The continuous use of various chemicals to harvest fish in the artisanal sector has serious health consequences for consumers.

“The practice of using chemicals is seriously wiping out our fishery resources because many of the poisoned fishes that are not harvested eventually rot at the bottom of the sea, and this pollute the environment.

This she explained if not stopped would lead to the total collapse of the fishery industry.

She warned that individuals or fishers who would be caught in any form of illegal fishing practices would have a brush with the law.

Mrs Quaye promised to subsidise fishing nets to fishermen and canoe owners as part of efforts to enhance their work.

She also entreated all owners of seized fishing vessels to report to the Ministry for identification and collection and warned them not to indulge in any illegal fishing practices again.

The Minister said under the Collaboratory Fisheries Management, fishermen have been given the authority to regulate fishing activities in their respective areas and to deal with people practising illegal fishing methods.

She noted that light fishing affected the reproductive system of the fishes and changed the temperature of the water body and, thus, made the water uncomfortable for habitation by marine life.

She explained that the current exploitation rate of the fisheries resources was not sustainable and urged all stakeholders in the fisheries industry to collaborate to stamp out unreported and unregulated fishing practices.

The Sector Minister said that the collapse of the fishery industry would have grave consequences on the national economy such as job losses, malnutrition and other negative socio-economic repercussions that would be difficult to quantify.

In the efforts to arrest and reverse the situation, the Minister said, her outfit had developed a comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan to address the challenge.

She mentioned some key measures like the effective enforcement of Fisheries legislation, improving information on fisheries biology and stock assessment to support the re-building strategy and reducing the current levels of fishing efforts and capacity.

Other measures include protecting marine habitat to conserve biodiversity and product certification and reducing post-harvest losses.

Mrs Quaye advocated the need for fishers to collaborate with the Fisheries Law Enforcement Unit to clamp down on “galamsey in the fishing sector” for sustainable fishery conservation.

Watch Committee members in Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, testified that, their vigilance against light fishing in the area, had yielded positive outcomes and enjoying bumper catch.

They suggested that the Ministry should replicate the setting up of such committees in other coastal communities, to protect marine life in the sea and other water bodies

The stakeholders meeting concluded ended with major players in the fishing industry agreeing that light fishing, use of -chemicals, under-sized fishing nets and bamboo for fishing should be barred.

Ghana has been battling light fishing for a number of years now and consensus reached by the stakeholders would help in bringing an end to all forms of illegal fishing practices in the country.

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National priorities defy convention in St Lucia – St. Lucia Times News – St. Lucia Times Online News (press release)

Posted: June 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm

The key issues of political change, socio economics and preservation of the environment will return to Saint Lucias House of Assembly on Tuesday, June 20, as debate resumes on the appropriation bill 2017/18.

However, far from Machiavellian schemes, hopefully, policymakers and the legislature would have perhaps gained more positivity on the key metrics that measure the outlook for future growth and development, as opposed to corporate welfare the transfer of business, economic opportunity and money from one subsector to another at the expense of anti-poverty measures.

Also, observers, professionals and intellectuals with a view to policy and unfettered opinions, myself included, are anticipating that the unintended six weeks suspension of parliament would repurposed with renewed hope on the part of policymakers and the legislature to lay out a vision for the country: a national initiative, whereby citizens could lay down their arms and support.And asnoted previously, we all know what the major issues are, including the IMPACS report, citizen security, the need for sustainable and appropriate foreign direct investment, preservation of the environment and addressing the dysfunctional administration of justice.

This we can accomplish, but let us all consider the specifics of what must be done to achieve prosperity, beginning with a reset agenda on socio-economic, security, governance, trade and international relations, on a bilateral and multilateral level.

Times have changed, but more entrenched is the need for immediate and long term strengthening of economic growth and sustainability. And so, one way or another, government debt at roughly EC$3.1billion and electoral promises that give rise to trickle-down economics by cutting taxes and eliminating government services in a trend that still has the economy in shambles, and showing increased volatility.On the other hand, a change of trend to allocate 72 percent of capital expenditure to economic services seems purely transactional and dangerous.The pivot to citizenship by investment (CIP) offers both threats and opportunities, albeit recent strengthening of capital outflow restrictions and corresponding banking make it more difficult for small developing countries to process financial transactions. This is in addition to the balancing act not to embrace nefarious characters and strongmen.The compound effect in such an environment seems unlikely to achieve an economic growth rate of at least four percent per year. Which means the savings gap will shrink and institutions will collapse, in a buildup of political and economic chaos, crisis and decline.

The peculiar environment that engulfs Saint Lucia today is not far removed from the global economic downturn of 2007-2008, or the current Qatar crisis, in terms of isolation as an island where approximately 90 percent of its overall trade is made by sea and imports around 80 percent of its oil through sea routes.

Political and economic stability is critical to successful investing, but more importantly, history has shown that, in the midst of crisis, opportunity abounds for renewed hope that allows for actual money to be invested: the monetization of the engine of growth and the ability to leverage Saint Lucias global economic identity as a destination for investment.

Whats more relevant is Saint Lucias geography. It is important to understand the blue economy the exploration of both the Caribbean and Atlantic ocean resources, in a sustainable manner supported by the green economy renewable energy, arable land use and environment preservation.In this context, the development of human resources, re-education and training in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are central. These are tools of the modern economy that go a long way in handling new jobs of the future. In fact, robust innovation and the economics of climate change adaptation would provide a renewable future for investment in Saint Lucia.Flexibility is sensible to investments and likewise the country. Financing, from the St Lucia Development Bank, for agriculture, agribusiness and fisheries sector should be accorded a high priority with the goal of doubling output, decreasing the food import bill, and the need for substantial import licences and concessions.This would eventually improve farmers and fishers income, help stabilize food and nutrition security to improve health care, restore rural economic development via infrastructure and housing, and provide an integrated development and management of the Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation and Saint Lucia Marketing Board and the Government Supply Warehouse.There is, likewise, the opportunity to integrate the digital wave to agriculture, agribusiness and fisheries sector. Develop farmers seed systems to strengthen biodiversity, patent seeds, strains, breeds, concept and the protection of intellectual property rights.Digital penetration in rural communities would also strengthen research and development, the maintenance of wetlands and mangroves, and data collection in real time for analysis.

This is one avenue, not forgetting the cooperative model if decisiveness is required in the blue and green economic integration, with a sense of honesty, accountability and transparency for the uplifting of people and country facing 21.6 percent unemployment, youth unemployment rate of 43.1percent and poverty rate at 28 percent.

A recent article in the Nation by Dennis Kucinich evoked the possibility faced in Saint Lucia.Growing poverty and inequality in America and other countries can be tied to a dismantling of the public sphere through the privatization of public services, which imposes the rentiers premium on parking meters, toll booths, waste and sanitation services, water and sewer fees, and health care, to name a few.In urban areas privatization looms as a major economic issue. People, through taxes, fees and utility rates, pay once for public services to be created. Once services are privatized, the public is forced to pay again and again, at higher rates, for less service.The public is told that money is saved. Whose? Wages are cut, services are reduced, increased rates and fees follow. The loss of public accountability and political control shifts onto the public as increased economic burdens and the social and economic costs borne by displaced public workers.In such a climate, unions are under attack, since they exist to promote economic justice. The right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages and benefits, the right to a secure retirement, the right to sue an employer for maintaining an unsafe work place, all these rights and more are at risk. Labor unions helped to build economic equality. Their demise means less bargaining power for all American workers.

This brings me to the importance of a vision for the country: a national initiative and infrastructure scope on a scaled-up level, higher minimum wage and job quality output.Russia is doing as it pleases in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and to some extent Latin America and the Caribbean.China is a major player in the Pacific and the Caribbean, pursuing an economic corridor, as part of its String of Pearls strategy, building up on a dominant maritime strategy worldwide.Saint Lucia is in the crosshairs via Desert Star Holdings, the Pearl of the Caribbean.And so, what is Saint Lucia to gain for its national interest and economic diplomacy? Whats the maritime strategy, in consequence to the blue and green economy? The development of our air and sea ports, maritime cooperation and information vis-a-vis national interest and strategic partners global aspirations?Saint Lucia should not have to choose a position of shortcoming; still, this requires collective action for a reassertion of sovereignty, economic edge and good governance that focuses on the general good, not the demands of sectoral groups.This is urgent and important. However, this of course calls for values-based policy both domestic and foreign, which rests on democratic rights and freedom, equality, equity, peace and human rights.Foreign policy is also trade policy. And according to then Senator John Kerry, Foreign policy is economic policy It is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way.In the midst of current socio-economic volatility, the writing is on the wall. A key yardstick is the lack of focus; misplace priorities and the greatest fault, credibility.These are obvious liabilities to very difficult decisions that need to be made to determine the future of Saint Lucia. Much depends on whether socio-economic, security and governance issues can change course in time.But meanwhile, everyone waits in a sober and distorted mood; there is the battle for political survival the theatrics of the mind.

NOTE: Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality.He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at[emailprotected]

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National priorities defy convention in St Lucia – St. Lucia Times News – St. Lucia Times Online News (press release)

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The lingering ghost of yesteryear – Jamaica Gleaner

Posted: June 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

Book: The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage

Author: Adrian Fraser

Critic: Dr Glenville Ashby

Societies, like every organism, go through periods of transition, for better or worse. It’s the law and an inevitable dynamic. In his revelatory work, The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage, Adrian Fraser presents a vivid historical account of a colony beset with social and political disputes.

It is the early 20th century and St Vincent is in the throes of an existential meltdown, not unlike its regional neighbours. Adrian Fraser’s scholarly undertaking examines an island teetering on collapse. Inadequate housing, land shortage, a substandard archaic education, and an underutilised human resource bedevilled a society strafed by neglect.

A self-serving political elite only added to an untenable situation. By1935, we learn that “[a] small social and economic clique controlled what level of internal power existed, [and that] the government [was] still being irresponsible by nature for the colonial political dynamics that advanced the interests of the colonial power rather than the people of the colonies.”

The economic paralysis we learn, “was blamed on the administration by persons who made submissions to the commission, [and that] it was, for some time, a commonly held belief that if the people had a greater say in their affairs, the economic situation would not have been as desperate as it was”.

By the early 1930s, substantive parcels of available lands remained uncultivated as land owners resisted land-settlement programmes. And sugar, no longer a readily sought produce, disrupted the work culture. Sugar was replaced with arrowroot and cotton, and the export of tomatoes, peas, and mangoes gained ground as labourers refocused their attention on utilising small parcels of land.

Against the backdrop of a withering class struggle, the masses remained politically and socially engaged. Avid readers they were as the media flourished. It was a paradox that arguably threatened the status quo. The media, Fraser notes, served as a catalyst for change and was the only viable means to a meaningful education. Meanwhile, harsh social conditions and the restriction of voting rights led to calls for a progressive political union.

In a 1932 conference in Dominica, delegates argued that “the Crown colony government … neglected the poorer sections of the community and was responsible for the colonies’ economic failure.” More important, they demanded that all taxpayers should be granted voting rights, “and that the franchise, with regard to property and income qualifications, should be lowered.” Adding fuel to simmering discontent was Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. The resistance was galvanised.

A growing chorus against the legislative council in 1935 saw some marginal gains by the people, but the legislature remained an exclusive body comprising wealthy land owners.

With socio-economic conditions approaching critical mass, an uprising was imminent.

Of interest are the unique circumstances surrounding the riots that began on October 21, 1935.

Fraser states that while unrest in neighbouring colonies exploded on plantations, St Vincent’s revolt erupted in the capital at a meeting of the legislative council convened to discuss the colony’s financial. An exigent need for revenue to fund multiple projects was needed. The governors sought to increase taxes on imports and raise licensing fees for vehicles as viable solutions.

A price increase on commodities agitated the working class, which immediately demanded clarification of the council’s intent. They also sought an audience to discuss the Workingmen’s Compensation Law and the Minimum Wage Bill.

As the day progressed, the clamour of the crowd intensified. Fraser captures that pivotal moment. He writes that as the governor stood on the stairs leading from the legislative council, the noise escalated [with] shouts of “We can’t stand any more duties on our food and clothes!”, “We want work,” “We are hungry!” “Something will happen in this town today if we are not satisfied!”

One news paper reported that “sticks and other weapons were brandished over the heads of the Governor and Administrator as they, with diplomatic tact, tried to mitigate the high feelings of the mob”.

Law enforcement was mobilised as chaos raged. Stores were looted, the jail was emptied, and the courthouse and cable office were attacked. There were casualties on both sides.

The suburbs were not spared. Ignoring the Riot Act, violence flared in Cane Garden, Georgetown, and Byrea. Armed with sticks and cutlasses, mobs besieged the homes of the wealthy.

When the days of anger quieted, an investigation was launched regarding the subversive role played by the media. The masterminds behind the uprising were also identified. George McIntosh was singled out, put on trial, closely monitored, and persecuted. There were allegations of media censorship, followed by the enactment of the Seditious Publication Ordinance and a state of emergency.

The 1935 riots must be viewed through a multiplex prism. There was an anaemic economy on one hand and racial indicators on the other. Indeed, race and economics were inseparable. Italy’s aggression against a sovereign black nation and the philosophy of the Garvey movement stirred racial pride among blacks and added to social anxiety and fear.

The growing activism of blacks in the labour movement and the prodigious insight of McIntosh in forming the Workingmen’s Association opened a new chapter in the history of St Vincent. Long-standing grievances such as land distribution, wages, workers’ compensation, and the poor state of education were addressed. The urgent need for constitutional reform and autonomy based on adult suffrage and single-chamber legislatures were strongly advocated. A more binding union between the colonies of the Windward and Leeward Islands was also advanced.

By 1949, small town boards and village councils accommodated elected and nominated members, ushering a new political reality that predicated adult suffrage and the establishment of a federation.

That literacy should determine voting rights was challenged by McIntosh, who argued that “the man who can’t read or write has greater need to have manhood suffrage … I want to see the widest scope of democracy … Give them every opportunity to rise.”

Fraser details the atmosphere and excitement of the 1951 elections that fielded the United Workers, Peasants and Rate Payers Union. He argues that “[t]he working people who participated in the riots made the connection between what went on in the courtyard on October 21 and the governor’s response in recognising the validity of some of their demands and purporting to accede.”

The 1935 Riots in St Vincent is a living, breathing testament to the socio-political dynamics that spur disenfranchised peoples to confront oppression. Fraser’s work attests to the significance of grassroots mobilisation.

For sure, free will and ingenuity will never be vanquished by oligarchic rule. History has shown that much.

The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage by Adrian Fraser 2016

The University of the West Indies Press, Mona, Jamaica

ISBN: 978-976-640-597-7

Available: http://www.uwipress.com

Rating: Highly recommended

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