THE EDITOR: With the Minister of Finance anticipated to deliver his 2020/2021 budget statement in just over a week, I am certain he is intensely contemplating all of the fiscal measures available to him to not just keep the economy afloat, but to sail full steam ahead. No doubt a daunting task given its already perilous list, made even worst by the economic impact of covid19 on not just the TT economy but that of the entire world.
Adapting the AG’s plane analogy, Imbert is thus required to repair the ship while sailing it, an unenviable task that is definitely easier said than done, especially given the state dependency for which all governments have inculcated and nurtured in citizens and businesses over the years.
Nevertheless, given Dr Rowley’s re-selection of Imbert to the finance portfolio despite the avalanche of criticism and calls for him to be replaced, it is clear the Prime Minister believes Imbert has what it takes to get the job done. I suppose time will tell.
In this regard, Imbert would do well to understand that a whole new budgetary approach is required, a budgetary transformation of sorts. His presentation must not merely give us the Government’s revenue and expenditure predictions, but truly inspire both the public and private sectors to wake up from their economic slumber and do their part to get the economy working again.
It must be the catalytic agent that causes the paradigm shift away from the “contractocracy” and “tenderpreneurs” for which the private sector has become to true risk-taking commercial enterprises that do not depend on government subsidies and contracts for their very survival.
Imbert must immediately begin the diversification thrust, while also widening the tax collection net, be it via the proposed Revenue Authority or otherwise, rather than simply imposing more taxes on the already burdened taxpayer to raise revenues to support the various inefficient, ineffective, unprofitable and corruption-infested state enterprises – the likes of WASA, CEPEP, EMBD, HDC et al.
In the words of former British prime minister Winston Churchill, Imbert must “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The working class people who pay their taxes before they even receive their salaries, as well as those compliant businesses, cannot continue to hold the strain alone. The Finance Minister must now grab this opportunity with both hands and show the population that we are truly “all in this together.”