WILD COOT: The SBI saga
The reclassification of Jubilee concentrate/juices is a startling example of the dilemma faced by the Government. Jubilee concentrate is a popular drink. It can be termed a poor man’s drink.
It stretches far, and a gallon can produce a “plethora” of liquid refreshment.
It can serve a family for a long time; it can provide a lunch drink for children at school for many days. Being a concentrate, a sophisticated bar or hotel customer would not necessarily opt for it as a chaser, but it probably would be the choice of a less choosy drinker.
Thus the reclassification of the item was an opportunity to exercise a choice, either reclassify it and raise more revenue thus reducing the fiscal deficit (?) or allow the old classification and ease the burgeoning cost of food, a 2008 platform promise.
Here would be a great opportunity to show genuine concern for those who are crying out about the cost of living. But here is a chance to get in more revenue and defer the impending decision to be forced to reduce the Government’s salary and transfers commitment.
The United States is trying to reduce its fiscal deficit by targeting 16 per cent of its budgetary expenditure! It does not want to touch health, defence and social security that help make up the other 84 per cent.
On the other hand countries like Britain have taken the right road early in its term despite people rallies. So have Ireland, Greece, Spain and many others. Swallow the bitter pill now.
Britain is prepared to cut its public sector drastically, expecting the private sector to take up the slack because an effort has been made to reduce taxes.
Can it be that we are not in step? Can it be that we are looking at the ballot box instead of real reduction in the fiscal deficit – targeting the biggest area of expenditure for the Government? Can it be that we are responding to criticisms in a naïve way?
Sir Lloyd Sandiford, God bless him, took the measures that saved the Barbados dollar, although the jury is still out as to what caused the then crisis. But he took bold measures and cut staff expenditure, the biggest item on the agenda.
Mark you! He lost the Government in the next elections! But “heads” I win, “tails” you lose. The alternative road now will eventually lead to infamy. Early elections? Are harder times in the works?
The price of oil is going to escalate and affect things already escalated. One may well remember the expectations of us in the Caribbean during the first oil crisis. Are we to expect a better outcome?
With the cost of living rising every day, the longer the crisis will last, and the more difficult it will be to re-elect a Government during whose tenancy the cost of living affected people so drastically.
Remember the floating vote is the middle class and they are the ones who tend to lose most during the crisis.
We seem to have made many wrong moves lately. We lowered the interest rate so that the banks get away with murder and kick everyone in the teeth. Now we had an opportunity to alleviate the draconian increase in VAT and taxes, but so intent are we on trying to maintain our level of Government expenditure that we fail to see a chance to help those who are suffering.
Did you see the Saturday SUN before last? An Indian from Mizoram in India has 39 (I counted 40) wives. The picture has an atmosphere of peace and harmony with Mr Ziona Chana standing at the head of his proud family. He has a tribe of 94 children.
This shows how laws and cultural distortion can throw a society out of kink. Here in Barbados the only thing that stops this sort of thing from happening are our laws, not morals.
The question of sin does not enter the equation. Indeed, many in Barbados do in fact sin because our laws prevent many from doing the moral thing by marrying all of the many un-churched wives.
Just check Genesis in our Bible, or check the Koran, Sura 2, Verse 183, Sura 4, Verses 3 and 28!