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Gleaning proposals while securing political cover

Ventriloquism isn't just for dummies, Mr Acting Editor. It can also be a very useful and effective political tool. No, I am not referring to bloggers and petty party hacks posturing and posing behind pseudonyms. Those people are about as subtle (and recognisable) as a slap in the face. I am thinking of something a little more sophisticated and elaborate than that. Here's how it works: —

Government has a problem. I know it. You know it. We all know it. It is not an easy one to solve. The cure will most likely feature harsh medicine and tough treatment. It is also unlikely that this will be well received by all, least of all by those who will be most affected. But something has to be done. Think of our staggering public debt of a billion and half dollars and a government that has been running well beyond its means to the point where it is simply unsustainable, spending far more than it is taking in or can reasonably hope to take in.

Now think SAGE Commission.

The necessary legislation was put in place in pretty short order (as say compared with that for the promised Tourism Authority, more on that later), and the Commissioners are already up and running. Their aim is to consult widely (a very good and welcome move) in an effort to come up with solutions on how to make Government more efficient and more effective and, if possible, less expensive.

So far, so good: what they have had to say has been engaging and cash prizes for solutions makes for welcome relief from the more recent Government offer of cash bounties for guns.

There are some obvious potential solutions looming: to slash and burn programmes that are not producing, and/or privatise and/or outsource the inefficient and the ineffective, and/or reduce a whopping big wage bill.

The unions sense these possibilities and, having not been given even token representation among the Commissioners, have already started to gear their memberships up for what they might face when the Commission reports. They haven't said it yet, but understandably, I think, they view the Commission as a Trojan Horse.

We shall see soon enough. The Act requires a reporting date of October this year. While the OBA Government is not obligated under the empowering legislation to implement any or all of the Commission's recommendations, it would on the face of it appear extraordinary to have gone to such lengths and made such heavyweight appointments (all of whom are working for free) to then turn around and not act on what is recommended. The Commission may well provide the OBA Government some welcome political cover, a neat twist on the Shaggy defence: it wasn't us … it was them … what made the recommendations.

This brings me back to the Tourism Authority, the legislation for which we have yet to see. I do not know what gives here. Like the SAGE Commission it was an election priority and, also like the SAGE Commission, could provide similar political cover for the introduction of gambling in some form or the other, ie it's not us, this is a recommendation of the experts, the professionals, the people in the business, who know best.

Something like that must be up. What else could it be when the party that promised everyone a referendum on the issue, and then won the Government, but has failed to even move on it while more time slips away? And this when there is legislation drafted and ready from late last year that provides for a referendum.

It could be because there will not be one. But I am not taking or making any bets one way or the other on what may or may not be coming down. At least not yet, Mr Acting Editor.

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Published May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 09, 2013 at 9:14 pm)

Gleaning proposals while securing political cover

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