New times, old words?

José I. Duarte
The presentation of the Policy Address by the Chief Executive started earlier this week. Exceptionally, it is happening three months after the new government initiated its official functions. Why this arrangement was needed at all is open to question: the CE is the same and the Secretaries’ posts were never open to outside competitors, should they exist. The need and advantages of this delay are less than obvious but, in the circumstances, that is possibly a minor issue that we can afford to leave aside.
Of course, the current year’s budget, which was submitted and approved last December, will have to be reviewed; and, obligingly, the Executive Council has timely finished the discussion of the budget revision proposal. There is no surprise there, either. At the time of this writing, the Chief Executive has already presented the Policy Address introducing, so to speak, the government’s guiding principles and policies. The focus will start shortly to move over to the various Secretaries’ presentations, which are scheduled to take place over a protracted period of almost three weeks – an indication that there is no sense of urgency here, surely.
While the CE was going through his presentation, the Government Information Office (GCS) was publishing its contents in real time instalments, as it were. The fact is that a first reading fails to provide any substantial indication about something new or different enough that might clarify why the programme is presented and approved almost four months after the government’s start of operations. (Side question: without a programme of its own, and the corresponding budget, should we look at the government, so far, as a kind of limited power administration, a caretaker government? That might be a legally interesting question but we would strive to find anyone arguing that would be worthy of practical discussion).
Nonetheless, the Policy Address was expected with some anticipation. The region’s major economic driver is stumbling beyond the expectations of many, and the uncertainty about the future is increasing. The talk and jockeying for position in the discussion concerning the renewal of gaming concessions has started and will intensify. However, the new circumstances of the economy do not seem to impact significantly on the contents of the address. They are surely acknowledged but the pertinent declarations remain as vague as ever.
In fact, if anything, all seems to be well and happening for the better. We are reassured, first, that “the recent slowdown in economic growth speeds up the adequate diversification of the economy”; and, second, “the progress seen in the last few years in the process of development of the adequate diversification of the economy is the basis for the stable development of the economy”[sic]. Hopefully, the Secretary for the Economy will clarify those statements – and the accompanying adjectives – in his presentation at the end of this month. Let’s wait then.