Two weeks ago we all held our breath as we waited for the Budget proposals to be announced and all I can say is that we now have to hold it a bit longer as we tighten our belts for the days ahead.
For some people the belt is being drawn in a little more than for others as the middle and higher income earners take the brunt of the increases but even the lower income earners are suffering from the loss of half of the reverse tax credit which is a major blow.
Can we really blame the Government though? Everyone knows that they need to reduce expenditure and increase revenues and if we are honest, although we are in a recession, many people have travelled this year and more than once in some cases. I wonder how many people stop to think about the foreign exchange they are spending when they go to the US, Canada or Europe.
So I guess the Government is just providing the opportunity to spend some of that money here, granted not in hotels, food, clothes and electronics but in increased personal and property taxes. We should at least be grateful that the VAT has not been raised.
One of the hot topics from the Budget has been the proposal to charge students fees for attending UWI. I can see both sides of the coin here because I really feel that students ought to pay something for attending university but at the same time I know that many people would not be able to attend UWI if the fees were not almost fully subsidised.
But when you say A you have to say B, because I wonder how many of the people who are protesting about the fees will often take out a loan to buy a car but yet would not consider taking out a loan to send their child to receive tertiary education, an investment versus a depreciating asset.
So I’m rather torn between the two sides on this matter. Perhaps the Government could have considered taking money away from another area and in order to continue funding the students at UWI.
If not, then perhaps there should be some mechanism in place so that if students fall below a particular performance level or attendance level they should have the privilege of free education revoked and be either asked to leave the campus or be made to pay for their own education. That may be already in place, I don’t know.
Instead of continuing to barrage the Government, knowing that they are trying their best to keep the country out of the hands of the powers that be, we should instead to looking for ways that we can help ourselves by cutting out luxuries, if we have not already, or by finding ways to earn extra revenue. I know of one person who has already cut back on their children’s after school activities in anticipation of the temporary tax on incomes over $50,000.
Some people have been cruising along for a while and in the same way that you start to feel the discomfort when you change altitude, I’m afraid we are going to experience some discomfort as we adjust our lifestyles down a bit. Just remember that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
The Opposition, whose job it is to oppose, has apparently called the Budget a Lucky Dip budget. I’m not sure exactly what that means because when I used to go to fairs, the Lucky Dip was something that I looked forward to and I don’t think any of us have looked forward to a Budget in years, if ever. I can still remember the famous words of the late Prime Minister Tom Adams when he said “Tighten your belt!” and years later it seems as if we are still waiting to exhale.
* Donna Every is the CEO of Arise Consulting Inc. which provides business and motivational training and advice to help individuals and organizations fulfill their purpose. She has written five books and has just released her second novel, The High Road.