Michael Manley wrecked economy

Published: Tuesday | August 21, 2012 Comments 0


Delano Franklyn's response to my column, in response to Ian Boyne's Michael Manley praise and worship piece, was not only pitiful and insult ridden as expected, but failed miserably to challenge my view that former Prime Minister Michael Manley was, in fact, a failure.

Beyond Manley's remarkable oratory skills, seeming love for the oppressed, effective social reforms and engaging public personality, there is nothing else of substance worth mentioning. No wonder one of the world's iconic leaders, former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, in his seminal book From Third World to First, in recalling a personal experience at a 1975 Commonwealth Summit in Kingston, stated, "(Michael Manley) presided with panache and spoke with great eloquence. But (I) found his views quixotic (impractical) ...; the policies of (his) government were ruinous."

Mr Franklyn claims that the statistics given in arguing my point were "dubious". He should know better; after all, he is part of an elite circle of multimillion-dollar advisers/consultants to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and can easily access the data.


The statistics are worth repeating. Under Michael Manley's leadership between 1972 and 1980, the economy lost 17.5 per cent of its GDP; the national debt increased tenfold from J$300 million to J$3,000 million; inflation ballooned by 250 per cent; revenues remained constant while expenditure galloped by 66 per cent; the budget deficit sprinted from 3.9 per cent to 17.5 per cent of GDP, probably the highest for any country not at war; investment buckled by 40 per cent of GDP; foreign exchange reserves were eviscerated, collapsing from US$239 million to negative US$549 million; and unemployment increased by more than 43 per cent, moving from 182,000 to 271,000!

With Michael Manley overseeing the worst devastation of Jamaica's economy since Independence, destroying the future of countless Jamaicans, and rivalled only by his predecessor P.J. Patterson, how does he qualify to be proclaimed "the most visionary and transformational leader"?

Funny enough, Mr Franklyn, in defending the long-established Manley fallacy, trumpeted how popular he was. Unfortunately, for you, Mr Franklyn, popularity means nothing, as history is replete with popular leaders, several of whom have dreadful records of governance.

Former prime ministers Edward Seaga, Hugh Shearer, Donald Sangster and Sir Alexander Bustamante deserve far more credit than a failed populist orator and charlatan.



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