Monday, 26 September 2011

Budget Blues: Incorrect Spending and Ridiculous Spending Cuts

The Budget is a bore, most of the times if not all of the times. We sit and pretend to listen to reports on the complicated numbers and division of  those numbers among Ministries, hearing words such as Expenditure, Spending, Cuts, Capital A and B, Supplementary, etc. We have gotten to the point where not even the ‘Budget Debate’ is Important us as a society, although the decisions made by our leaders will affect each and every one of us in some way or other.
Is it that we trust our leaders to make these ‘Critical’ choices without our voices heard? On the contrary we could not be less concerned about what the Government does with our money; if we have to tighten our belts on our family’s budget so should the Government on the Country’s Budget, right?

But should you be afraid, Very afraid of this fiscal year Budget?

If you’re a Progressive anywhere in the world and your country is experiencing a economical down turn your mind automatically switches to Infrastructure and Short Term Development Project to revive the spending capabilities of your citizens but if you’re a hard-line conservative you will follow the crowd and shout ‘Spending Cuts’ and ‘Tax Breaks for Top Earners’ from mountain tops to skyscrapers accepting no other positions but your own, while holding the middle class and poor hostage as if you’re a suicide bomber, like the Tea Party in the ‘Debt Ceiling Battle’ in Washington D.C. USA, earlier this year. Jamaica has a hard-line conservative political party called, The Jamaica Labour Party.

Now here is the ‘Be very afraid part’, the Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance; star of the JLP economics, has taken a if I dare say it ‘Hill and Gully ride’ approach to this budget; increasing spending and mercilessly cut expenditure on across the board in his supplementary budget present on August 30, 2011. Obviously the Hill represents the spending hikes, while the Gully; cuts. If you don’t enjoy ‘Hill and Gully rides’, this should scare you, Minister Shaw budget includes: A $2.1-billion net increase, a $4.4 billion increase in spending on the recurrent side, a $2.4 billion cut in capital expenditure. But what does it all mean?

It means, those affected including Ministry of Energy and Mining, which lost $860 million allocated to the Petrojam refinery update and $50 million of the $450 million which had been allocated to the Rural Electrification Project. The Ministry of Education that lost $800 million from its capital budget, practically stalling construction of two high schools and one primary school, a School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and joint National Youth Service/Youth Information Centre offices.

So, Conservatism meet Conservatism; the budget is essential built around paying the public workers, whom deserve to get paid, but at the same destroying projects that would employ workers and improve our infrastructure and Education system. Spending cuts are necessary but spending by the Government in a developmental manner is essential as well in the functioning of a stable economy. If you’re afraid of this conservative dial tone of a budget, take comfort in China, Ha?

Question to the People: Will this Budget be able to get us out of the slump, with so much Cuts and incorrect spending?’