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Tuesday 21 January 2020
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Letters to the Editor

Mindfulness and national budgets

THE EDITOR: Once again another budget has descended on us. However, all too many among us know about the country’s annual budget is to axe the tax, desire a reduction in VAT, seek out an increase in old age pension, pay next to nothing for gas, and so on.

Our national budget, nonetheless, is the lifeblood of our economy because it is government’s financial plan for one year, outlining how much money or revenue it will generate and spend in a given year.

The budget is also supposed to control the trend of national demand and supply through a number of fiscal policies and strategies.

Traditionally, governments since independence have done well with the paperwork and virtual accounting of our budgets. Unfortunately, they have missed the boat with respect to oversight and ensuring that the dynamics of our budgets trickle down to every citizen in our country.

Articulating intentions in Parliament cannot be all. We must ensure that every public servant is paid on time and on a regular basis. Contractors and suppliers of goods and services must be treated in the same way.

More appropriately put, no citizen, no worker in the government service must be left behind. All allocations must hit the targets at which they have been aimed.

This brings me to a deeper perspective, rooted in the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness, as defined by people in the know, is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

According to the dynamics of this definition, a government that implements a budget in the context of mindfulness rather than simply embrace the accounting of budgeting will promote among citizens the following:

* Reduced anxiety and stress.

* The importance of paying taxes in a country.

* Increased financial literacy and knowledge about how the economy of our country works.

* Increased empathy and understanding of people who work hard to make a living.

* Increased resilience to overcome the many challenges of nurturing an economy rather than to simply sit back and wait for handouts.

* Improved creativity, innovation, and collaboration to enhance diversification and the wealth-generating capacity of the economy.

With the above in mind, I congratulate the Minister of Finance on his presentation. He seems inclined to go in this direction. However, this cannot be the end of the road for him or his ministry. He has to persuade citizens with respect to what he has in mind.

Also, on a continual basis, he has to educate and sensitise citizens to the belief that the Government alone cannot save us from economic hardship. We have to pursue an ideology of economic prudence and resilience. We must change our laissez-faire mindset.



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