Regulations  badly ill-timed

Regulations badly ill-timed

WHEN the fiasco between the government and wool farmers started, the debate was about what is good for the country.
The government was at pains to justify that the new regulations would benefit the farmers and generate more income for the country. But as the impasse continues, the cost-benefit analysis of the regulations has been put on a backburner. On the forefront now is the unhelpful argument about who will win the battle.

The farmers say they will not allow anyone to dictate how and to whom they will sell their product. The government says the farmers should obey the new rules or stop using its shearing facilities.
Neither of those hard-line positions will help the country. Nor will they assist in rebuilding the burnt bridges. With dialogue stalled, chaos has ensued. At some point the unhelpful arguments have to stop. Yet for that to happen, the government should take the initiative.
The past three months have proven that the farmers are hostile to the regulations. Given the vehement opposition to the new rules, the government should now be asking itself if it is doing the right thing.

When people resist a decision, it is either because it is wrong or it has been miscommunicated to them. We think the regulations are good for the country but they are ill-timed.
For now, the debacle is a result of the government’s failure to convince the farmers that this policy will benefit them. And that is precisely because the farmers were not properly consulted.
The government’s insistence that it consulted the farmers reflects its lack of understanding of what constitutes ‘consultations’. Merely telling or warning the farmers of the impending policy-change is not enough.

The farmers are rational people who want to get the best value for their wool and mohair. If the regulations were meant to achieve that, then the farmers would have gladly embraced them because it means more money in their pockets.
As it is, they think the regulations were concocted to benefit a few people. Given this perception, the government is advised to stop talking down to the farmers and prodding ahead with the regulations.

History has proven that you can only effectively rule with the consent of the people. Riding roughshod over the will of the people has had disastrous consequences in the past.
And it matters not that the government is right because in the end it is about how the people perceive decisions.
If they think they are being cheated, short-changed or abused, they will push back like the farmers are doing.

The government will not solve this crisis by issuing threats and forcing the farmers to sell their wool and mohair locally. It all comes down to what the farmers think is the motive behind the regulations.
They know that regulations are meant to make business easier and not harder.
They understand that any regulation should translate into more earnings for them. But, thus far, they are not persuaded that regulations that bar them from exporting their wool are in their interest. They see no benefit in a policy forcing them to have licenses.

Unfortunately, the government seems unwilling to see things from their perspective.
Instead of coaxing them the government is brandishing threats. No wonder the farmers are fighting back.
The solution, we would suggest, is for government to take a step back and restart the process. Go back to the farmers to hear their views and weave their views into the new regulations. Get expert help on drafting a policy that will be implemented over time.

Retreating is not a sign of weakness but is a sign of strength to work out a new strategy and regain strength.

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