Good start, Holness and Phillips
As a PAYE worker who is close to breaking point, I am happy that the Opposition leader has picked up the dispair of many of us who were alarmed at the prospect of having to pay more taxes. I am also happy that the finance minister has seemingly heeded the warning.
Normally, I wouldn't be inclined to contemplate standing on the roadside with a placard. But if graduate students in the US find it necessary to join the 'Occupy' movement and take over major public spaces to drive home their point about the greed of the elite in their economic system, then why shouldn't I find it my duty to protest unfair treatment by the tax man here?
Make no mistake about it, Dr Phillips deserves kudos for his sincerity and steadfastness. But he should remember that genuine economic reform cannot be lopsided. Intense effort must be made to close in on tax dodgers and well-heeled economic untouchables. They must be required to shoulder their fair share of the sacrifice. PAYE workers are sick of being 'hit up' for new taxes by successive finance ministers when revenue targets are missed.
But there is another point I wish make. It has to do with the demeanour of both gentlemen -- Andrew Holness and Peter Phillips -- as well as the content of their exchanges. This week we saw the best of both men. Holness made a solid case for the introduction of an economic stimulus and a sound growth strategy. His call was accompanied by thoughtful and practical recommendations. He spoke without being quarrelsome and fixated on the past. If he keeps this up he will, indeed, earn the title "transformational leader".
While I am not satisfied with Dr Phillips's response, I very much appreciate his willingness to speak to the public and in a manner that is neither imperious nor quarrelsome. It is so encouraging. Perhaps there is reason to hope that this 'pairing' of intelligent and dignified competitors will be a productive one where the welfare of Jamaicans is concerned. I look forward to a greater exchange of ideas and to them taking the debate to the next level.
Enough of the mindless criticsm and tit for tat. Jamaica is crying out for dignified and transformational leadership. Time is running out. Fast.