Budget day will put things in perspective To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
February 7, 2002

I refer to the Stabroek News article entitled “what should be in the 2002 budget”, which solicits the views of persons whom that newspaper considers influential in the business community.

Their responses vary from the untutored to the unenlightened. And in the end they all reflect the quality of the local entrepreneurial class, one historically wedded to government patronage and not willing to wean itself off that mendicancy.

These `key’ players in the business community would be the first to endorse the view that the private sector should be the engine of growth. Yet, in their public mouthing they cry like infants longing for the protective cuddle of government.

In most of the comments in the Stabroek News features we hear about the need for a stimulus package. This lexicon is a product of watching too much TV. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre and its effects on the American economy, most analysts pointed to the need for such a package.

In typical copycat manner, our local business leaders devoid of originality, want a stimulus package but unlike their American counterparts, they do not know what form this package should take.

Most of businesses leading light want a reduction in taxes. For years they have called for and wrested increased import tax concessions from the government.

Having milked that cow to the maximum, they have now shamelessly turned their attention to other areas that can personally benefit their enterprises without the slightest consideration to the common good. There is now the call for a reduction of the 2% turnover tax, incidentally a tax designed to restrict tax avoidance on the grounds of successive years of losses. They also want a reduction of the property tax, but they do not tell us how pitifully low this tax is and how few of their confederates pay the correct assessments.

Again we are regaled about the need for investments. But are these “leading lights” not the very entrepreneurs who should be leading the way to bring these investments through strategic linkages and joint ventures? Some of them in fairness though are fighting for their own survival, lacking the requisite skills to manage properly in a competitive environment.

Christopher Ram once again demonstrates the value of regurgitation. His contribution is a full take from the interview he did with Professor Clive Thomas on a recent Plain Talk show. At least through his pet topic - the lack of synergies between the budget and the National Development Strategy was picked up by Joycelyn Dow who in calling for a fiscal package of incentives shows a glaring lack of understanding of what stimulus packages are about and the present fiscal regime.

Interestingly, and revealingly little is recommended for workers and where it is the onus is on government to dole out these benefits in the form of an upward movement of the income tax threshold.

What a shame! Just examine the comments of these leading lights and see how many of them mention increased wages and salaries for workers?

This shows how myopic and self-centered were the comments; it also demonstrates how they feel about workers.

This band of esteemed men and women from our business community have had their say. Come Budget day the Minister of Finance will have his and hopefully he will place these expectations in the proper place: at the bottom of the heap.