Steve Lyston, Contributor
How can change come within any area of any nation when the thinking of its people remains the same over time, even as administrations change?
For significant and positive change to take place, bold visionaries must come forth and take the lead. The nation cannot change unless there is a group or are groups of people who will arise and lead effectively in order to bring economic stability, sustainable development, peace and a plan for the younger generation so that they will not return to enslavement.
The more the nation leans toward gambling, paganism and immorality to grow the economy, the more you are going to see unimaginable activities taking place.
Everything is guided by spiritual laws, and when they are broken, there are consequences.
Expansion and growth cannot come unless we make plans for expansion and growth. A country's vision must be clear before God can bless. There has to be a united effort agreed upon by the political parties, other stakeholders and the people. They all must agree to the vision and all must sign off that even upon change in administration, there is continuity.
Lately, we have been hearing that there is no other way but to implement stringent International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands. The only way that there's no other option is if individuals and nations refuse to seek direction, wisdom and a plan.
Jamaica needs its own economic plan. The IMF should be learning from Jamaica and looking at how to implement that model in other nations. Jamaica certainly possesses the human resources and intelligence to create such a model.
The people within the nation need to know:
They would ask the major companies to give into this fund annually from their profits and the Government would, in turn, extend waivers and tax benefits to the organisations.
The National Housing Trust (NHT), evidently, has a very good system of generating funds; replicate it, name it the debt-relief fund and pay our international debts. There is no way the NHT funds should be touched for debt repayment, when many contributors are still without a home. Many have paid over the years and have not benefited.
By touching this money, it denies those of any hope of having a home. The creation of the NHT was a brilliant idea given by Michael Manley - much the same as HEART was by Edward Seaga.
In going forward, the following options should be considered.
All politicians should give up 50 per cent of their salaries if they are truly willing to see the nation enter the path of debt freedom.
Let the banks pay more taxes without passing it down to the people.
Why not expand the tax base by encouraging from the greatest to the least - even 'Maas Joe's shop' to contribute to taxes and lower the NHT requirements so they, too, can own a house?
The time has come for public-sector reform. We don't need more than one department to collect taxes/revenue. NHT, NIS, education and income tax deductions can be collected by one agency.
The Office of the Contractor General and the Auditor General's Department can be merged. Furthermore, strengthen the Public Defender's Office and assign legal aid to defend the poor, then things can improve.
Reform the Rent Act, set up proper systems to track landlords and hold them accountable, and lower property taxes.
How will we deal with those who own a home but can't pay property taxes because they don't have a job?
Why not make better use of unutilised or underutilised properties and have voluntary relocation, especially from areas such as Port Royal and parts of downtown Kingston, shifting them into rural areas where they can invest in agriculture and create jobs and wealth there.
Then, Port Royal and downtown Kingston can become 24-hour commercial hubs, so that more jobs can be created.
All police and soldiers so should be exempt from paying taxes, and the teachers, nurses and customs personnel should just pay one flat tax, not exceeding 12 per cent, in an effort to rebuild the community, motivate them and lower the levels of corruption.
There should be scholarships given to university students studying marine biology, botany, agriculture, horticulture and geology.
Merge the Scientific Research Council and JAMPRO. Then restructure the organisation by bringing in young management trainees and retired civil servants, who would work together to drive the new vision for Jamaica.
Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.