#atozchallenge Budget pressure: finding the Jamaican larder bare

If there’s one thing that Opposition parties shouldn’t do is make specific financial promises during election campaigns before they’ve had a chance to look over the books. Sadly, the lure of winning elections often pulls more strongly than some simple rules of prudence. 

It’s not that governments are corrupt or misuse public funds, but the details of public finance are rarely as simple as putting two slices of bread on a plate and making a sandwich. What’s also true is that, unless you really understand the financial flows, terms can take on meanings that you only understand later. No lies need be told, but seeming vagueness can hold the grains of essential truths. What is also true is that once your promise has been laid out, it can be tempting for those still holding the purse strings to just make things harder for the Opposition who hope to win by using up some or all of the bounty they are hoping to use. 

All of that is not new in politics. But, do politicians remember? It seems not.

So, now that the promised tax cuts have been laid out, reality comes along and finding the funding is not the easy set of statements made on the campaign trail. That’s where things are in Jamaica. Whether the once-Opposition-now-Government has to find J$10 billion or J$30 billion is hardly important, now, when even a small amount of funding can barely be found. 

Of course, no meanness need to have taken place by those who knew more about the money. The world is always changing. So, assumptions have to meet reality.

Public opinion is hard to gauge, but the promised tax cut was always going to be a political Rubicon. Can it be crossed with little damage or ‘loss of life’? 

While people ponder what’s really going on, many realise that the new government has little wiggle room and little time to keep people waiting for the delivery of the promises. 

It’s said that politics is the art of the possible. Some politicians like to position themselves as miracle workers. Can someone find a magic wand to unbundle the tight financial knot that’s been tied?


Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)