Minister Howai's failing grade
I am a supporter of this administration but I am disappointed with the new Finance Minister's first attempt at our national budget.
The Minister talks of plans to reduce our annual $7.6 billion deficit successively over the next few years. Will he be around then to do so? As he spends the children's reserves now where will he cut and also find funds later on for debt servicing at the same time? We could have postponed the CLICO/HCU settlement further. By the way, has anyone been held culpable for that atrocity yet?
It was difficult to ascertain what portion of the budget went to the PSIP or capital works. This will indicate to us whether we are consuming all our revenue or the extent of our commitment to the country's development. If we have not learnt lessons from Greece and Spain then the children might as well take classes in marching rather than javelin-throwing.
It is also baffling to perceive what benefits can accrue to the country from the tax breaks given to developers except to fatten the accounts of a dozen or so. Did we really collect taxes from developers?
How can the Government subsidize $400 million fuel to the few high flyers on CAL and Air Jamaica and yet take away the gasoline portion for all citizens?
Now let us look at the removal of VAT on all food. Examination of the grocery bills of average citizens spending $2,000 monthly will indicate a VAT payment of about $33. With the removal this is the extent of monetary gain.
There seems to be a failure on wellness policy by opening up the citizens to a barrage of unhealthy foods rather than dampening demand through use of the tax regime. But maybe some are fooled by the magic wand.
In closing I ask what is the estimate of VAT refund due to groceries for the amount already paid on wholesale purchases? Does anyone feel that grocers will actually trim off the 15 per cent at the cut off date? They will laugh all the way to the bank.