In recent months I have noted a definitive negative change in the mood of Jamaicans.
I am not sure what has provoked it: It is not so much a rising sense of insecurity, but more a feeling of frustration and anger.
Possibly it is a consequence of poor economic management of the country. People earn less, borrow more, lose the value of their assets in foreign exchange changes, real estate holdings, pension values; on average we are getting poorer. All investment in the country has realized poor yields for businesses, farmers, and professionals. The costs related to education have soared. Universities, technical schools and other educational institutions find students I gather, but have little qualified teaching and management staff, and the quality of education is not up to an international standards.
On the other hand, Government taxation has reached astronomical proportions; persons are being taxed in every sphere and aspect of work life. GCT is now in every simple commodity that one needs, rich or poor, and at increased rates including energy of 17.5% ( please note approximations). In Britain taxation is just as high but there are incentives freely allowed to producers, and there exchange rates are more conducive to living. In Jamaica, many persons are starving, children and adults.
In addition, Government accounting of public funds paid over in taxation, in saving for a better life, in providing health care, and in infra-structure development is minimal. Our crime management is not as effective as it could be; our social services are depleted beyond any service whatsoever. We are in the hands of the Receiver (IMF), virtually bankrupt. An associate said recently that it is like giving someone $1000 to buy something at the shop; he spends $700, saying when asked, he lost track at the shop, and cannot account for the balance.
In much expenditure by Government the results give the same conclusion: ‘We are investigating’ where the missing funds have gone. Then there are no subsequent explanations, for years (remember FINSAC), and dollars paid out in auditor’s fees, and perhaps legal charges thereafter.
Where do we go from here? ‘’ Is there any balm left in Gilead? Are there no physicians? Who will take care of the poor and suffering?” Jeremiah’s call goes unanswered. Where are the solutions to come from, where are the answers?
In the past two years, many suggestions have been made to remedy the situation; some sensible and some frivolous. Perhaps some have been tried and some are in progress. But I see there is no organization in the approach of the suggestion. Committees have been formed, and have been dismissed, without any obvious conclusion formed and disseminated. There was a recent suggestion that the two parties align the most intelligent and acute minds of their supporters, including members of the public. Then put them to the job of improving our circumstances.
This should not be a paid committee: except for lunch and coffee where necessary, and must be assisted by professional trouble shooters in law enforcement, military training, and legal backgrounds. That is my opinion; perhaps that way we shall get a quick response. ©Ramesh Sujanani