ADJUSTING the burden so that the many and not the few benefit will be the most important issue facing Minister of Finance Colm Imbert as he presents the budget on Monday for the next fiscal year.
Political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said at a Sunday news conference that the critical issue Imbert should address is not how much money is to be spent or collected by various ministries.
With the economy shrunk and the country experiencing negative growth, Abdulah said government policy will determine the road it intends to take the country, whether it is going to put people under more pressure with high food prices and unemployment, in a situation where labour is weakened and the small and medium-sized businesses go out of business.
“Would the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?” Abdulah asked.
He suggested Government hold its hand on rolling out the property tax to home owners, retirees, pensioners and the vulnerable, and focus instead on the wealthy.
He said owners of industrial properties, large commercial properties where there is economic activity, as well as the wealthy who have four and five properties, should first be taxed, rather than putting the burden on the backs of ordinary people.
He expressed solidarity with workers, especially frontline workers – nurses, health care professionals, teachers, police officers – who are all experiencing some kind of fallout.
He referred to last Friday’s action, when nurses and health care professionals took time off to pray.
To the Prime Minister, Abdulah said, "If you don’t want workers to protest, then take action. Deal with them in a fair and just manner. Same goes for police officers who are out there 24/7 during a state of emergency. Do your duty to the police officers, Mr PM.”
Abdulah was also critical of the hybrid system that will be tested on Monday as some teachers and students return to physical classes.
He said while a parallel health care system can be managed in the pandemic, the hybrid system of education is not practical as the teachers union has expressed major concerns.
While impractical, he suggested that because Dr Rowley first suggested the concept of a return to physical school for vaccinated students in forms 4-6 at a public forum some time ago, “he can’t back back now and thus is going through with it.” Abdulah said this system will cause thousands of unvaccinated children to be denied an education.