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Budget Speeches: Baffling with BS

September 20, 2001

On Friday afternoon, during the Budget Speech, my mind ran on Intercol season back in High School and the assembly of the entire student body preparing our "war chants".

"A razza tazza, razza tazza, zim boom bah, St Mary's, St Mary's, rah, rah, rah.....". If you can make sense of the razza tazza I welcome your insight. Generally it appears to be part of those things that we do to appear coherent when we can do no better.

I guess that's why of all the times since leaving those hallowed walls that chant came to mind on Friday.

The Minister of Finance, an honourable man delivered his first and the UNC's what fifth budget speech and long or short it again was short on real solutions and long on razzle dazzle designed to mesmerise the minds of the unthinking.

A High School student last night described the BS (Budget Speech) as a shopping list.

Indeed! A few ideas here and there thrown together to catch the eye and possibly the vote of this or that section of the population.

Let us just take what apart from that appears to be serious policy - diversification of the economy.

What ar the things to ensure that this country has a viable economy when the wasting petroleum resource (whose prices depend on the next US aggression in the Middle East) finally disappears.

Well, the UNC now says we will pay attention to a) being a conference destination of choice; b) building our agriculture and c) getting into a "science and technology park".

Well, Bridgetown and Kingston have gone the route of hoping to be conference destinations of choice....huge conference centres still underutilised stand as testimony to that failed policy of living in hope.

As for agriculture, well patch some roads here and there, give out 1,500 leases on lands which certainly will not be among the best agricultural lands in this country, most of that is already "cultivated" with concrete and steel growing houses on our most fertile lands.

Our food import bill continues to soar and exports remain difficult as the standards set by the importing countries make it prohibitive and after all, the contribution of agriculture to GDP over the last 20 -25 years has been steadily in decline.

Come on, Messrs gang of X-4, you know very well that such cosmetics, including the rehashed NAR idea merging CMA (now NAMDEVCO) and ADB (if that's really what you intend) are not sufficient to revitalised this critical sector neglected by every regime including yours!

Now, to the science and technology park, what's new! The idea of off-shore cheap labour in computer data entry and other services to multinational corporations has been touted for years.

And, what of the manufacture of electronic components that Mr Yet Ming spoke of. Will it be really different from the Maquiladores located across the US border, which are nothing but dirt cheap labour havens for US and Japanese corporations operating under the most heinous conditions of labour to produce cheap components for their so-called high tech products?

A sweatshop is a free zone is a sweat shop!!!

A hope and a wish that multinational corporations will find it more attractive to relocate their sweatshops here when they can operate at $1 US per day in Mexico and less in the "tigers" of the Far East in my humble opinion is both pipe dream and a pitiful declaration of bankruptcy of ideas.

Well, after we examine these matters, back to the shopping list.

Income taxes down a whopping 1%. So who pays really less - a worker earning just over the non-taxable allowances or a company like the banks raking in over $200 m per year?

As for redistribution of income - how does this taxation measure affect the fact that income earners i.e. working people in total pay more tax than corporations?

To the real razza razza tazza. Old age pensioners will now be able to use their huge $80 increase in pensions every month to buy saltfish and toothpaste to clean their dentures after eating the bacalau and a few more bars of soap to keep themselves and their clothes smelling really clean...and that after riding on a few more buses than they have been able to for the last 15years and more.

No one is being left behind!!!!

None of us are really the damned fools that these politicians think we are.

If you can't dazzle us with your brilliance, then, don't try to baffle us with your BS (Budget Speeches)!!


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