Great expectations . . . dashed

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The title of today’s piece is taken from Charles Dickens’ enduring classic, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, which speaks to the enormous fortune and the great social advancement that the main character, Philip Pirrip aka Pip, expects to achieve. The story has an unexpected ending, the moral being that affection, loyalty and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth and class. Seems, wherever there are great expectations, there are also important life lessons to be learned.

For our purposes today, we will focus on the great expectations of this greedy, grasping Administration when it floated a US$200M bond on the international bond market. The bond was supposed to be the panacea for our economic woes. Money was supposed to be flowing into our coffers. Civil servants would be paid on time. Our Social Security Scheme was going to be placed on a sound footing. Jolly Beach would be made whole, as would its suffering workers. So too would the LIAT workers. Our water woes would be over, with our parched land blooming like a rose. “Granny would be able to bade.”The many sores that had been neglected on account of this Administration’s profligacy and mismanagement, were to be things of the past. Most importantly, this pathetic Administration, which is banking on winning the next election simply by throwing wads of cash at the electorate, would have a hefty war chest to facilitate its election mamagism. And why not? This Administration cannot point to a record of accomplishment these past eight years. Never mind how it has huffed and puffed and spoken with rhetorical flourishes of the wonderful investors and the wondrous investments, blah, blah, blah, not much has ever come of the hype. So sad!

Seems, the international folks with money (And they became wealthy on account of their shrewdness and thrift) are loathe to do business with this Administration. True, some have come to our shores and stood alongside he of a high place, speaking with soaring oratory of their great interest in doing business in Antigua and Barbuda. Unfortunately, after they have done their due diligence and checked out the high-handed and callous way in which this Administration treats investors, especially those who are not willing to scratch this Administration’s back and play footsie, they politely say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” and head off to more investor-friendly locales. They really do not wish to be in countries where those in high places can hold capital to ransom; where they refuse to issue vesting orders on a whim and fancy; where they routinely ‘cuss-off’ people who disagree with their shenanigans; and where they have access to private and confidential banking information; and so on and so forth. (See the treatment meted out to the University of Health Sciences at Dow Hill recently, as well as Sandals, about five years ago). Who the hell wants to do business with a boorish, bullying administration that tears up agreements and welches on its obligations?

Anyway, there they were – those in high places, gleefully rubbing their hands and salivating at the thought of bucket-loads of money becoming available in the treasury on account of this US$200M bond. No wonder the campaign spiel for many of them was simply to ask their constituents, with a sly wink and nod, “What do you need?”As in elections past, the incumbency planned to ‘meet the immediate needs of the electorate with a nice . . . uh . . . treat,’ thereby extending its miserable lease on life by making like Santa Claus.

Alas! Not one solitary investor is interested in placing monies in the Antigua and Barbuda treasury.  Notwithstanding the exuberant talk about the bond being over-subscribed, it was apparently a big, fat LIE!!! In shame, with plenty of egg on their faces, they have had to cancel the wonderful bond offering!

Clearly, notwithstanding this Administration’s braggadocio, people of means in the world of high finance are not impressed. They don’t trust this Administration; they are not fooled by its oft-heralded supposed good stewardship of the nation’s finances. They are hardly willing to throw good money down a black hole. Seems, credit worthiness is a problem. Ouch!

Here’s a twist on an old American saying – “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came,” ”suppose they floated a bond, and nobody subscribed.”  Hmmmm! Seems, those poor-boast fools in high places have had the wind taken out of their sails. Great expectations dashed!

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