Economists today stand as the most dangerous and socially destructive non-combatant professionals after politicians. Here is a de facto source of advice on managing an economy: the ill-advised policies of economists and politicians can wreak havoc on economies, giving rise to inflation and depressed welfares, which fuel crime, stagnation of investment and employment creation, and a wasting of scarce financial resources on unnecessary and ill-timed infrastructure projects.
The social discord caused by the VAT policies in the 2017 Budget, combined with the strenuous support from the Minister of Finance and Government so far, suggests that something is very wrong with the thinking of the Finance Minister, at the very least. Both the Minister and Government may be of the opinion that opposition to the 2017 VAT policies is rooted in the PPP’s own efforts to have these policies removed from the budget, but this is wrong, and is a grave miscalculation that is exacting severe political costs for the Government.
What is unfolding so far is that the private sector is unhappy and unwilling to get involved in any long-term investment plan under the current policy framework. The entire country is upset about VAT, and members of the middle class in Georgetown are screaming about the parking meters’ affair. Only sterling protest action has seen a recent roll-back of the parking meter fiasco, but bowing to these or anything else perceived to have social and developmental consequences would create avenues for more ridiculous policy ideas, which would further erode the economic gains made thus far.
Unfortunately, we have to start talking about economic gains made, because the PNC-led Government seems intent on doing a lock-step dance that would take us back into our dark past – during the PNC’s infamous previous reign. There seems to be a lack of basic common sense; we do not realize that we have us scrap the 2017 VAT policies that make this act a no-brainer. This decision escapes the Minister, and is something that needs social pressure to get corrected. In the United States, they say, ‘Call your congressman/woman!’ Here, I have to say, ‘Get on the protest line!”
Societies and countries the world over have had their share of mad men occupying high offices. We ourselves have had enough firsthand experience as such a young country. We have to stand together, and start booting our elected officers who would trample us.