Budget debate a façade
This is the time of the year when the House of Representatives gather for the annual budget debate. Currently, there are aspects of the budget that have become very controversial among the masses. One of the main controversial issues is the tax levy that is to be imposed on bank withdrawals. My focus is not on the tax levy, but the fact that the budget debate is merely a façade.
Dr Peter Phillips and Opposition spokesman of finance, Audley Shaw, would be the main contenders of this debate; in other words, the stars of the show. The onus was on Dr Phillips to draft a budget presentation which would convey the strategic plans the Government has developed to manoeuvre the country into prosperity.
Dr Phillips, after hours or maybe days of thorough cogitation and advice, has drafted a $540-billion budget which is far beyond what the Government currently has. As such, there is a $140- billion gap that needs to be filled. Out of that amount, $6.7 billion remains outstanding, but how is he planning to achieve this?
When he decided on a way he could fill this gap Audley Shaw ensured that he pointed out the defects in plans, and in turn, proposed what he thinks the Government could or should have done. This has been going on for years, so why is the country the way it is?
Both parties are claiming that they have the panacea to our economic and social problems. Our current debt to GDP is a little under $2 trillion, our crime rate is constantly increasing and Security Minister Peter Bunting is being heavily criticised for his proposed "divine intervention". Over 40 per cent of females at our women's centers are under the age of 16 years. The child abuse rate has increased by about 40 per cent, and the list goes on. All the mentioned problems are indicative of a current social and economic atmosphere. How is the budget debate going to address these issues? How are our resources going to be tactically used to ensure growth and economic stability? I am sure that our politicians have all the answers. The best way to do this, is to debate the budget, don't you think?
Beside finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, and Opposition spokesman of finance Audley Shaw, others have their various contributions to the debate such as Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. He also poked holes in the proposition's arguments. Being that Audley Shaw has already made the proposals, he decided to look at social issues, such as the review of the buggery law that is long overdue. All that is happening now is just mere criticism, one criticising the other, claiming they could do a better job, yet our dollar is sliding. How is the budget debate helping the Jamaican people? All that is being done are utterances of false hope, for when it is over, they return to the corruption and backwardness.
Clark's Town, Trelawny