THE EDITOR: Looking at the superficial side of the budget one may be tempted to be persuaded by its “goodies,” but to the discerning, the question to ask is: where are the measures that point to real growth and development in human and economic terms?
Which is why there is merit in the argument that the budget is more political than developmental, offering palliatives as a cover-up to real issues, the solution to which is the lifeblood of this nation going forward. For how else can one look at the miniscule measures related to lower-level workers and other hand-outs here and there for pensioners and the disabled et al?
These are certainly welcome to this group, but is this the objective to appeal to the material instincts of the simple-minded, so that they gleefully accept what comes their way without question, concluding in their simple minds that this is indeed a “good budget” for which the Government should be rewarded with their vote?
And even for the not so simple-minded the net effect is the same, for with no measures significantly jeopardising business and corporate interests et al, the likely reaction from this group is that it is indeed a budget that can be accepted with little question.
In this way the vote is assured at all levels, not to mention of course the overarching tribal/party loyalty which can see no wrong in the budget, willingly offering the vote in exchange for the patronage and privilege that are sure to follow.
Such mutually practised self-interest at the expense of the national good, as the above, gives rise to the question, especially for those who really care for this country, whether there will ever a budget in this country with the noble objective of carrying the country forward, catering for its true development at the human and economic level, inter alia.
CEPEP, for example, could have been taken out of its limited conceptualisation of work for the small man and integrated into the national grid of agricultural development, sparing its practitioners from the tenuous benefit of a tax-free regime for consumer goods (palliatives) and assimilating this group into a true diversification process.
Agriculture can take this turn, with the intensive organisation of farming communities into producers and processors in areas such as rice and other staples, with appropriate follow-up in marketing and compensation for loss.
Also, could there not have been measures to empower local government bodies, allowing them to look in more specific ways at the needs of constituents, being closer to the ground with them than the central government, overcoming the overall neglect which is often the inevitable fallout of partisan politics?
And finally, could we have not taken a second look at the stereotype of sport and entertainment, important as these are in their own right, as the passport to earning a livelihood for all youth when few can only so succeed, and direct them instead to a path to education which is linked to “corporate,” the latter being given incentives to accommodate students who possess the requisite training?
And I can go on and on and on but the lack of space forbids me.
It’s a tragedy in this country that our politicians, on both sides of the divide, do not have the character to go beyond the machinations of partisan politics and give priority to issues that point to true national development in human and economic terms.
It’s the way we can grow as a people, and maybe for the future, the high-fives among politicians that we saw splashed on the front pages of the dailies could be symptomatic of a pride in a worthy effort for the good of the country and its people, as against a mutual snicker over the fact that, “We ketch them again.”
DR ERROL BENJAMIN