Once a government has decided upon its short-, medium- and long-term strategy, leading to realisation of a national vision, economics is the tool and vehicle to get the territory to the “Promised Land.”
Economics is at the core of governance. That is why most countries are managed by politicians advised by economists. Global finance is driven by economic theory and economic thinking.
Why is economics central to good governance? Because economics is about the best way to manage scarce resources. Economics provides society with both macro and micro economic information and appropriate statistical parameters within which policymakers make decisions on everything from social welfare to security and defence.
Economics also attempts to guide governments and political leaders through the vast and tortuous maze of international debt management and the complex movement of financial capital between central banks, investors and nations. Economics further advises society on bridging the gap between lenders and borrowers and between investors and investment requirements.
Ultimately, economics is about obtaining the “best bang for the buck.” Economics is seeking the best social and economic return for the human effort and physical resources naturally found in an economy.
Limited resources — human and physical — are the raw material of governance. And how scarce resources are managed decides whether a country will achieve its aims, objectives and goals.
In the VI?
So what outcomes are desired by Virgin Islanders and residents? Outcomes are short, medium, and long term. And the reader can go back to Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs to determine desired outcomes.
In a nutshell, residents want to live in peace and safety. Residents want to work for a living. Residents want business opportunity. Residents want good education and good health care.
Once the preceding needs are met, then needs higher up the pyramid are desired.
Residents want to travel, send their children to college and university, own homes, and go on holiday. Higher needs include the pursuit of leisure, personal passions, interests, hobbies and retiring with affordable health care and sustainable pensions.
The list is long. However, without a well managed economy the preceding goals for residents are “pie in the sky.”
There is more. The national vision is the key to meeting the desires of voters and residents. Vision is a great asset for politicians. But without a vision and goals, there is nothing to aim for. When there is no vision, governance drifts and enters into self contradiction. Projects are not properly factored into the developmental needs of the country. There is waste and mismanagement. When there is no vision there is no joint objective. There is no policy cohesion. There is no national purpose. The end is failure of governance, and even worse.
With a vision
Where there is a national vision, and national goals and objectives, governance has direction. Politicians sing from a single song sheet. Businesspeople are offered a road to travel based on that national vision. Economic and public planning has direction. Every citizen knows their place within the context of that national vision. Even the opposition has a benchmark and measure to gauge the performance of the men and women on the opposite governing benches.
The voter can tell over a number of years whether the government is meeting key objectives in a timely and sustainable manner.
On the other hand, a vision can become a double-edged sword. If a vision has not been achieved after the date when it should have been delivered, then there are answers that must be given. Why was there failure? If the vision was sustainable through the budgeting process, then where did the cash go? How was the cash spent, and why was the cash not spent on national priorities?
Economics gives the answers to all of these questions. Vision is the destination. Economics is the horse and cart.
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