LETTER OF THE DAY - Don't blame public servants for bungling
The Editor, Sir:
Once again we are reminded of the "amateur-like manner" in which the Government is implementing public policy. Any good policy process requires you to engage in research, consultation with key stakeholders and the conduct of impact analysis. It is clear that on more than one occasion in the recent tax packages, none of the required activities was done. If they have been, then the results seem to have been ignored.
The most glaring examples include the total withdrawal of the first December package and its replacement after public outcry with one that is so different from the first. It begs the question as to whether any of the steps in the policy process were observed.
As a public officer and the representative of the workers involved in this process, I am particularly concerned with the image being painted of the "real public officers" in places like the Ministry of Finance, many of whom the country know to be "top class" technocrats and bureaucrats. These are for the most part persons who have provided the country with effective professional advice and support for many years. They are not new to policy formulation, they are not new to international negotiations and so I wonder why we are failing so badly on these matters?
Your Sunday, January 3 editorial referred to the item of the tax on electricity bills and highlight the revenue loss to be suffered as a result of the failure to have dialogue with the Jamaica Public Service Company before the announcement. I want to add that we are also going to fall short in collecting in other areas too.
Take the increase on motor-vehicle licences. According to the Jamaica Gazette promulgating the increase, it is on motor cars of 2,999cc and above. It makes no reference to motor trucks and so the attempt to capture the so-called 'luxury vehicle' will fail, at least initially. For the records, under the Road Traffic Act, there is no classification of vehicles called luxury vehicle or even SUV and so the constant reference to such is a misnomer.
And so the Toyota Tundras and the Escalades and the other luxury vehicles will escape as they are registered as motor trucks.
I recall when the Access to Information Act was being debated, my union's position on advice by civil servants to the political directorate was that we disclose everything; this was rejected by the political directorate. It would be interesting to see what the civil servants had advised on these tax packages!
I am, etc.,
WAYNE ST. A. JONES
President, Jamaica Civil Service Assn
10 Caledonia Ave