LETTER OF THE DAY - Why are we living beyond our means? - EntornoInteligente

Jamaica Gleaner / THE EDITOR, Sir: Why this constant cry that we are living beyond our means? The primary surplus in the Budget clearly indicates that the Government collects more from us in taxes than it spends on us in services, to the tune of 7.5 per cent of GDP, that’s well over J$100 billion this past financial year. Yes, we have an enormous and onerous debt that either needs to be paid down, or partly written off by those who made the problem so much worse than it was – that is the IMF with its faulty advice in the early 1990s, and our local banks which started using ordinary people’s deposits in an irresponsible way, forerunning in Jamaica what happened to the world in 2008. When the Government – mmm, the taxpayer – took over the FINSAC debt, remember it doubled the total debt at the time.

Without this overhang, there would be at least $50b more (yes, half of the primary surplus) to help stimulate growth and relieve the pain that Portia feels so personally.

BECOME MORE EFFICIENT

Where we are living beyond our means is in terms of the trade imbalance, importing so much more than we export. Yes, we need to become more efficient and climb up from the bottom of the ease-of-doing-business international ranking. But again we are shackled by those countries which, through the WTO, want to hold on to their often ill-gained advantages. Too much protection can encourage inefficiency at home, sure, but against dumping and unfair trade practices employed by other countries, it is very much needed.

So let’s stop punishing those who have seen very little from the genesis of the debt. That is the 50 per cent of families who have to bury their pride and go cap in hand to PATH. The fancy houses, cars and luxury goods we see in our shops clearly indicate there is money in some hands. The trouble is that our top bureaucrats and politicians are firmly in this latter group. However much they say they love the poor.

PAUL WARD

[email protected]

Kingston 7

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