If we know one thing since Jamaica’s last general election, it’s that the new government doesn’t know what it thought it knew when its members were in opposition. The main thing that remains unknown in the local political calculus is the one thing people were promised would be coming by April 1–a tax refund payday for a sizeable chunk of citizens. Not knowing usually worries people more than knowing that something will happen and if it’s good or bad; uncertainty opens the way to bad possibilities, and people like that much less.
I guess we were all too focused on the process of the February 25 election and its drama that we ignored the fact that April 1 is traditionally the day for pranks. The BBC is famous for its quite believable April Fools jokes, such as the report of flying penguins. Well, if pigs can fly….Another famous lark was its report of spaghetti harvests.People are often shocked by their own gullibility, but many organizations depend on this human weakness. Politicians absolutely thrive on it. How else could they keep making incredible promises and people believe them.
The promised tax break wasn’t a real wheeze, but how it was to be financed was the stuff of fairy tales. Now, the tinsel has gone, and the glistening tree is just a ragged old bush tarted up for a fete.
So, should people start to think that they were being yanked around to get their votes?
Funnily, in that not haha sense, a new political era was ushered in around a popular song called ‘My dream’. Many people relate to its aspirational element. But, will dreams turn into nightmares?
It’s often a useful gauge of how people view your promises when they get turned into stock phrases or lampooned. The ‘poverty to prosperity’ mantra had great allure. However, I noted yesterday that one of our major companies used the absence of the promised $18,000 tax break as a full page advertising ploy in the Sunday papers, offering a near $18,000 price cut on some higher-end smart phones. Guaranteed. Really! I nearly cried. Jamaicans love their cell phones. It suggests that this may be the only smart option if you want that extra money in your hands.
People have been told to await the Budget presentation in mid-May to learn the details of the still-to-happen tax cuts and how they will be financed. A few weeks is not a long time, except that when you keep dangling a carrot the hungry donkey sometimes just snaps at your finger or kicks out with its hooves. That’s a metaphor for a coming backlash.
So, let’s remain fair and live with the uncertainty until….