Jamaica’s election came and went and with it came promises and the inevitable expectations of their delivery. That won’t really come into shape until a budget is passed.
Money matters…The new government presented to Parliament yesterday its estimates of expenditure for the fiscal year 2016/17 (April 1 start date). The bottom line is spending (J$580 bn) is set to be lower than in the previous budget (-$60bn). Oddly, for a government said to be heading towards pushing for faster growth, the estimates show a huge reduction in spending on government-funded projects (capital A) from last year’s approved $186.6 billion to $91 billion. How will the government pay for this? Already the murmurs are about higher taxes, as noted in one of the major papers today. Are people ready to pay more in general consumption tax and special consumption tax? We have not yet seen the details of the income tax plans, but if it is to go ahead are people prepared to see money go out of their pockets so that others can get more in theirs? DO people understand that the tax measures are just redistribution of money?
May…That is the month when the meat of the government’s financial measures will be discussed and determined, starting May 12 and ending May 25–see the budget timetable. Don’t miss it! All MPs are to be involved.
Motivation…Funnily, yesterday, I had a conversation about the poor state of recycling in Jamaica. “We just need willingness!”, someone said. I said “You need money…and it needs to come on terms you can afford.” Someone thought that the problem may be politics. But, I noted that if the drivers were private sector enterprises it was about profit. In one way or another, though, people who are needed to act must find their motivation. Someone suggested taxing homeowners a little more to cover the cost of collections. I pointed out that in a country where people complain that they are already overtaxed, no matter what the good intent of using more tax revenue that would not be welcome. The process of getting people to buy into good policy has to find that balance of willingness on many sides.
Mosquitoes…Rains have started and the presence of the pesky insects is starting to rise in some areas. People (not just in Jamaica) have had mosquito-borne diseases on their minds, and in their bodies, for quite a while. Dengue? Present! Chik-V? Here, Miss! Zika-V? Yes, Sir! A friend is wondering why Zika seems to have been spreading more slowly than Chik-V in Jamaica. Good question. Answers to be found.