Making and breaking promises

Friday, June 01, 2012

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The public battering that the Government is now taking over its huge tax package, particularly its decision to impose General Consumption Tax (GCT) on some basic food items, demonstrates the fickle nature of politics.

In the short space of four months, a political party that demolished its opponents with a huge mandate at the polls is now being pilloried and described as cruel for administering the "bitter medicine" that voters were told was necessary if we were to effectively deal with our economic problems.

Obviously, the electorate did not like the message delivered by former Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and so they sent the messenger and his party packing. It didn't help the previous Administration either that it had badly damaged itself with the Manatt and Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition issues. Both connected issues, we are sure, played a great role in voters subjecting the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to the indignity of forming the first one-term Government since political Independence 50 years ago.

Armed with those matters and an economy made worse by the global financial crisis, the then Opposition People's National Party (PNP) naturally went for the jugular in the general election campaign.

They accused the Government of incompetence and, as is the wont of politicians on the hustings, made big promises, among them that a future PNP Administration would remove the GCT on electricity imposed by the Government at the time.

However, as we all know, politicians campaign on promises but govern in reality. For the Government last week reversed on that promise and has imposed a tax package that it hopes will take in an extra $23.4 billion.

There is no challenging that the Government needs every cent it can get to close the $274.5-billion hole in the budget. It therefore has very little wiggle room in relation to taxes.

However, for the Government to now claim that it had no idea how bad the economy was when it was in Opposition is simply a poor excuse and quite frankly an insult to the intelligence of the Jamaican people.

We are under no illusion that politicians will suddenly develop a conscience and refrain from making outlandish promises on the campaign trail.

However, what we can hope for is that electors will question everything that is said to them by politicians and hold to their words, those who seek their vote.

In short, politicians should be made to understand that there will be political consequences for their decisions, especially those that impact on campaign promises.

Addressing the carnage in Syria

The international community, we see, has finally developed the cojones to deliver a decisive response to the atrocities being committed against the Syrian people by their Government.

Germany, Britain, France, the United States, and other Western nations on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of Syrian diplomats after the massacre last weekend of 108 people, almost half of them children, in Houla.

We doubt whether the expulsions will change what is happening on the ground in Syria. However, when grown men can callously slash the throats of children, it suggests that they have descended to a level of depravity from which there is no return.

Despite the continued resistance of Russia and China to military intervention, it appears to us that the situation in Syria is now so horrendous that the United Nations Security Council needs to seek a majority decision on this matter.




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