Editorial: It’s no love fest!
One of the most hotly debated topics in Jamaica today is whether the Holness administration can deliver on its election promises and, more important, whether those were some reckless pledges made in an effort to woo voters.
Moving from poverty to prosperity, which was the campaign slogan of Mr Holness' party, had a welcome ring to many individuals. Persons were particularly keen on the promised tax break, for as it was sold to them, they would now have much more in their pockets to improve the lives of their families. It was, essentially, a message about a better opportunity for supporting families and changing lives.
At the mention of a tax break, even some persons who are not currently employed were hoping they could somehow reap the benefit. The fly in the ointment from day one was this: Where would the money come from to fund this bold promise?
The announcement this week by Finance Minister Audley Shaw that part of the funding he was expecting to source for the tax break was not, in fact, available for that purpose has stunned many, but from the various reactions to Mr Shaw's statement, it is obvious that the public is not in a sympathetic mood and will not be satisfied until the Government makes good on its pre-election promises.
A new Government expects to be given some slack as the electorate waits for newly appointed ministers to find their rhythm and for the development of policy frameworks. Many of the new ministers in this slimmed-down executive have no experience in Government and were not spokespersons for their assigned portfolios, so they may need more time to be properly briefed.
But we sense a certain kind of impatience among the people as members of the administration appear to be fumbling around their ministries. It's worth noting that some ministers appeared to be weighted down by their many responsibilities. Already, the Government has been criticised over its tardiness in making board appointments.
There seems to be no love fest between this Government, elected by the thinnest of margins, and the electorate. As such, there is, therefore, no honeymoon period, and to avoid erosion of confidence, this Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government needs to move purposefully to set its priorities and become businesslike in tackling the job.
Jamaica cannot be the easiest country to govern, with citizens penchant for ignoring rules and regulations, and the economic quagmire the Government faces. However, there are some matters that require urgent attention, and based on the utterances of this Government while in Opposition, many expected that full attention would be paid to areas such as crime and health. Specifically, it was anticipated that creative measures to deal with the threats from the Zika virus and the HINI flu would have been well advanced.
Given the fact that we are still in a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund and that the Jamaican people have been taxed to the maximum, all eyes will be fixed on the upcoming Budget now being crafted by Mr Shaw and his team.