When we work together, Jamaica is better off

March 15, 2019
Finance Mnister Dr Nigel Clarke opening the 2019-20 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives last Thursday.

I find it interesting that when we all work together in this country, we can get a lot done that benefits everyone, but instead, we prefer to remain divisive.

So, Nigel Clarke, the minister of finance announced some tax cuts, J$14 billion worth of cuts that will, among other things, make homeownership a lot more affordable, especially for those buying their first one.

There were also some goodies in there for entrepreneurs, which I will get to later.

Homeownership gives people equity that can be used to generate wealth, so it is a good first step to alleviating the stress of affording a home.

I have never recalled a time when a Jamaican government cut taxes. For much of our time as an independent nation, Jamaicans had always feared the reading of the annual Budget.

It was a time of great anxiety. We worried about what was going to be taxed next and how much less money we would have in our pockets once new tax measures were announced.

This is new and refreshing.

However, there are those who, from the get-go, were finding fault. To me, these people will never be happy. Yes, this period of financial prudence began when the Opposition was in power, and this Government has continued the policies, so both get credit for the ‘good times’ we are now experiencing.

Given that reality, can we take this as an example of what can happen when we work together instead of trying to make less of this than it is?

Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding says the poor will only get the crumbs from this new tax measure, deflecting attention from the idea that with measures such as these, everyone will eventually benefit.

I am poor, and many like me see these measures as a sign of positive things to come. Our debt-to-GDP ratio, which used to be a stifling 149 per cent, is at 96 per cent! That means that the Government has more money to spend, more to inject into the economy.

Also among the measures mentioned was a programme in which, loosely speaking, the Government is setting aside money to back start-ups.

What that means is that finally, there is equity available for people to start new businesses. New businesses means more jobs and if these businesses survive and grow, they give rise to even more jobs, and, perhaps, the creation of even more businesses.

That does not sound like “crumbs” to me.

Look, I understand the politics of it all. The Opposition has to poke holes into what the Government is doing, but let us give credit where it’s due.

These measures can only help make Jamaica better, not worse, and, in truth, it does not matter who implemented them.

If they make Jamaica better, I am all for it.

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