Chris Gordon

Pursuant to comments in my initial post where I noted, “some other issues should be considered” (regarding an IMF relationship – or that of any other investor), I will only say the following in relation to the original article’s opening paragraph…

{“Third World” countries, especially the African countries, must either take the bull by the horns and abandon their participation in the current Global Capitalist System or continue to serve the interest of the capitalist west and reduce their peoples to the wretched of the earth..}

It would be reprehensible for any party to a contract to enter into it with the belief that it was a failed proposition from the beginning. And thus, if ‘participation in the current Global Capitalist System” only serves the interests of the west (and not serving a “need” of the Gambia), then its a bad deal and it should be abandoned without further consideration. If, however, the relationship has the means to advance a peoples’ plan (in the case of government loans) and you can get what you want for terms that you deem acceptable, then why would you not consider it? Who cares what they get or how predatory they (the lender) may wish to be. Just don’t agree to terms that can set your country back a decade (or worse) in the event of a worst-case-scenario. If we agree to terms that are draconian, then we, ourselves, are to blame before we can point fingers at the lender.

{The escape of a few from poverty into affluence and riches,which is often showcased as the success of the system, is an illusion…The system is designed to keep us the way that serves their interest: sources of cheap raw materials and labour, as well as Markets for their finished goods and services and regular sources of income through interest payments and debt servicing…Dependence on Foreign Aid ensures control and manipulation..}

This is a defeatist mindset, in my opinion – believing that any deal with an external source is going to be one sided – it can’t be if you don’t agree it.

The unfortunate truth is that very few people on earth understand how to effectively manage money. Those that do tend to benefit the greatest. We all assume that our leaders in government understand this science – most do not, however. Then start to factor back office deals within deals and money starts disappearing where there’s a lot to be spread around. Then, bang! That regime is gone and there’s a mess for someone else to clean up – all the while the good people are left holding the bag for a deal gone bad.

Identification of needs, and potential solutions for them, should be relatively simple to calculate. However politics – especially where corrupt regimes are on the debtor side, brings ambiguity and uncertainty. I don’t think Gambia should care less what ‘the man’ (IMF, China, other investors, etc.) might get from a relationship from with them, as long as Gambians get what they need to fulfill their needs/interests in return.

This is where it gets dicey. For,

  1. Can the Jammeh regime be trusted with managing loans from any source?

  2. What if the government can’t/won’t repay the loan(s) – what happens to Gambia’s assets (surely the loans will be secured with something of value)?

So in the end, don’t blame the lender from the outset. If you were an investor with the ability to finance tens of millions (USD$) into the development of a country’s infrastructure, you will evaluate all of the factors involved (risk) and make an offer if you see where you can achieve a ‘win’ (whatever ‘win’ means to the investor – usually profit).

In the case of the Gambia, there is high risk. The region remains unstable, Jammeh’s regime has a poor track record of managing public funds responsibly and lacks accountability, etc.. The electorate, mostly the result of a lack of education of the masses, don’t know how to make their government accountable. So if I’m a guy like Jammeh (not saying he’d do this), I might look at what deals best suit my interests and be prepared to blame the eventual failures on the weather, Ebola, etc. when I don’t fulfill my end of the bargain.

This, my friends, is where most deals go south. Not even the IMF can predispose a deal to be rancid if its counterpart is “sober and accountable” through the process of negotiation and then work hard to fulfill its obligations. Believe me when I say that most investors don’t want to become debt collectors – it’s time consuming and costly. I think it is fair to recognize that investors have a lot of risk – especially where repressive regimes are involved because of the cost of corruption.

So in the end, if Gambians can’t trust their leadership to manage loans on their behalf responsibly, they should make their feelings known – as best as possible. I might even consider a petition signed by legitimate Gambian stakeholders to the IMF (or whomever) to state reasons why they should not lend money to a (Jammeh) regime, if it can be discerned that it is the will of the people. Maybe this is how you get Jammeh to the table – however I have no clue about how the opposition might be coalesced (or not)?

The greatest advantage that an oppressive ruler in a poor country has is lack of education of its people. In the Gambia’s case, a large proportion of its citizens believe they are impoverished because it is God’s will. And, perhaps it is – but I seriously doubt it.

In my opinion, your every effort should be underpinned by a serious commitment to educate all Gambians…somehow. There are plenty of willing NGOs. And understand that this country’s woes will not change tomorrow. Part of peoples’ educations (everywhere in the world) should include what expectations they should have of their governments – where democratic. As we know, we’re not all lucky enough to have this luxury – but none of us should not rest until we do.

…our world would be a much fairer place – not to mention peaceful.

Ends

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this section are the author's own and do not represent the editorial policy of Kairo News. Kairo News will trash any comment that inflames tribal, racial or religious hatred.

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