Perspective: Will the 2017-18 budget help the poor in Jamaica in any meaningful way?

In my perspective the budget as presented will not at the stroke of a pen solve Jamaica’s chronic debt crisis of a sliding dollar in relation to our major trading partners. For example the Jamaican dollar, to say the USA and Canada. The economy in Jamaica has come a far way and is improving. It is not all doom and gloom.  We saw 2 percent growth this fiscal year. Crime is high but the police et al are fighting back.  There is good social stability.  There are no reports of wide spreads starving.
Tax Relief
Tax relief to the working class on PAYE (Pay as you earn employees) of up to 1.5 million dollars effective April i, 2017 is commendable as the Holness administration has honoured its election promise.  This alone will not solve the problem of those not in the formal job market to live a better life.
We note the increased allocation to PATH (public Assistance/Social Security) to the most vulnerable in our society …single moms and the destitute.  Unfortunately this alone will fall short for some 200,000 according to a PIOJ study.  Only 320,000 will benefit at present from PATH.  the others will be left out in the cold, as to speak.
Indirect Taxation 
This type of economic formula of indirect taxation has the IMF blessing.  However, as commendable as this may appear to the IMF  ….will the poorest of the poor get real benefit?  The poorest of the poor are struggling to make two ends meet and are not in the formal employment system to really benefit from tax relief as stated before.  They are likely to be further marginalized.  It is a vicious cycle.  The government has tried and must get high marks for same.  Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller made this point in her final contribution to the Budget debate Thursday last March 18, 2017.
Increased Production
There needs to be increased production and we need to earn more foreign exchange by increased exports.  Only these initiatives will dig us out of the economic mess we have found ourselves.  WE ARE MORE THAN KNEE DEEP IN SNOW TO USE A WINTER ANALOGY.
What is your perspective? Do let us get your feed back.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie, SIC, & photojournalist for vision newspaper.

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