Letters to the Editor

Give the poor food stamps

Wednesday, June 20, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Let me say right off the bat that I am not an economist, but I have done enough economics courses at university to know that the approach of both the JLP and the PNP will not solve Jamaica’s economic problems.

Now I don’t know who is advising both parties on the economic way forward, but I would think that if GCT is easier to collect than personal income tax, the GCT should be moved to 20 per cent and the personal income tax threshold to $1 million. This measure would leave more disposable income in the hands of the consumer and more spending would take place, resulting in further GCT inflows to the government.

The GCT should be broad-based on all consumer items except for special items where the government wishes to encourage that particular activity; for example, solar energy, school books, certain manufacturing projects like motor car assembly and computer assembly operations, etc. After two or three years when we begin to see growth and the debt begins to show signs of reduction, then we could reduce GCT by 0.5 or one per cent each year until we reach the desired level that would stimulate consumer spending even more, resulting in a further expansion of business.

So you must be asking, what about poor people and basic food items? Well, it just so happens that basic food items are also consumed by the middle and upperincome group, and we certainly do not want to give that category financial discounts just so that we can make basic food items cheap for the poor. So what’s the answer? Food stamps, of course. Every country seems to be using that system except Jamaica.

And what about the existing PATH programme? I hear some people complaining that getting food stamps is embarrassing. Well, I think that when you’re poor, your choices are limited. The truth is (and no politician wants to say this or do it) that you cannot build an economic package based on how it will affect poor people.

The Bible tells us that the poor will always be with us because poverty is relative. You have to build an economic package for the benefit of growth for the country. If the poor are adversely affected by this, then you target the poor directly with food stamps and other benefits.

All you so-called economists, let me hear you rebut my common-sense approach. Personally, I think we have a bunch of dimwits advising and running this government and the previous one, and nobody has the guts to do what is right for Jamaica. They do what is right for their party or for their personal wellbeing. Poor Jamaica.

John Mills




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