Well, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his team have presented the 2017-2018 budget and as usual, some parts of the presentation are up for discussion among Jamaicans in and out of Parliament. These parts of the budget have taken the spotlight, but not in a good way. As part of the budget presentation we learned that some fees related to motor vehicles would increase, some types of land taxes will increase, and a myriad of demands are being made on the population of Jamaica – to assist with funding the budget. Please note that for most if not all the changes or additions made to fees, taxes and other government charges, which citizens are not given ample notice of what to expect. Rather the changes came into effect a few days after being announced, giving the people little to no time to prepare for paying more money for taxes or government services. The enforcement of the new costs has been rigid, sudden and in some cases outright harsh.
Take a moment to think about the reality of the Jamaican economy. We are pretty much on life support, with individuals and companies looking out for their own interests and not the well-being of the people. We are deep in debt and entangled in some tedious agreements to pay back money owed to the IMF, Chinese Companies and other private investors. A job is not the easiest thing to find in Jamaica and many young people who should be prepared to take the jobs when they are available, are either unprepared for the jobs or not interested in working for minimum wage. The average Jamaican’s income is simply not enough to do all the things that he or she needs money for.
Even the people who we presume can afford the increases, like hoteliers are saying that a 900 percent increase in property taxes for some categories of hotels is just unacceptable.
I wonder sometimes if the politicians who sit around their round tables are in fact in touch with reality. How can a people who are mostly poor people, keep affording increases in this and that, when they struggle every day to do the basics like find food, pay utilities and take care of their children’s needs. I want to ask the government to show us the ways in which they plan to increase the country’s income, besides through tax collection. Show us the job creation and prosperity measures which we have been awaiting for far too long. From this administration to those of the past, politicians have continued to leave question marks around the country’s financial affairs and no-one seem to ever be accountable for anything. Yet we allow them to put the burden of financing the country’s budget upon the people’s shoulders, one more time.
The type of governance which allows the government to use tax as a way to finance the budget is exactly what needs to change in Jamaica. The type of politicians who set price increases for the people and announce them to take effect with little or no notice is precisely the type of leadership that we do not need. It’s this type of cold-hearted, money-centered style which has taken Jamaica from being a promising economy to a struggling one in dire need of rescue. And until we as a nation understand Jamaican politics for what it is, another budget will read which cripples the economy, stresses the people and continues the rising trend of poverty in the island.
It will take a whole-hearted uprising of the people to begin to turn things around for Jamaica, and leaders who have the country’s interests at heart, not their own agendas to become rich and famous. The reading of the 2017-2018 budget should serve as a reminder to all Jamaicans that we have allowed politicians to do whatever they want to us, when they want to, and we have not done much or enough about it. And that is why in 2017, we are in the financial mess which is synonymous with the Jamaican economy. So here we go again, another year, another budget and only god knows how most of us will face the challenges ahead.
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Editor at Large, Mckoy’s News.
The views expressed on this post are that of the writer and not that of Mckoy’s News.