THE EDITOR, Sir:
EDUCATION MINISTER Ronald Thwaites never fails in his speaking and preaching to us, but he is often found wanting when in taking action to solve our problems. Perhaps his being a member of the clergy in another life is a cause.
He was recently quoted as encouraging parents to start saving early for their children's education and not to wait until the appointed time and expect assistance to come from other sources. I could not agree more. However, somewhat of a cultural shift and a more supportive policy framework to encourage such savings are required.
I would suggest that Minister Thwaites encourage his Government to provide the policy framework to facilitate the offering of education savings accounts (ESAs).
There should be, say, up to $1 million in deposits per year per ESA (multiple accounts per beneficiary should be allowed). The amount saved would be tax free as long as it is used for the prescribed purposes upon disbursement. Any leftovers after the educational expenses have been covered for an eligible student could be rolled over to benefit another family member's education. Otherwise, it could be used for other purposes but taxed then.
tax free salary deductions
The ESA could also be structured to allow for tax-free salary deductions from employees who are so desirous. In that case, the salary deduction would not be taxed before making its way into the ESA and would not be subject to any further tax while being so saved.
Such a move would provide a greater incentive to help parents and children save for educational expenses and would be more effective than merely calling on parents to so act, especially when we do not have a culture that embraces as a matter of course such responsibility.
On another matter, Opposition Spokesperson on Sports Olivia 'Babsy' Grange's criticism of the Government's decision to throw a homecoming celebration for our athletes who represented us in the London Olympics is rather disingenuous.
According to Miss Grange, the planned celebration amounts to a grand waste of taxpayer money - money that could be more meaningfully used to benefit the athletes, such as investing in their further education.
Miss Grange does have a point; but, as minister in 2008, she threw a similarly lavish and expensive bashment for our athletes who did us proud in the Beijing Olympics. Was what she as minister/the government did then not as equally a grand waste of our money as what this minister/government is doing now? The pot calling the kettle black?
Had Miss Grange first acknowledged the 2008 celebration as a wrong move and cautioned the present minister not to make the same mistake, her criticism would not come across as so smacking of gross hypocrisy. And we wonder why political apathy is so high in the country?
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER