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EDITORIAL: A new era of cooperation?

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

We view Dr Omar Davies' support for the proposed flat tax on members of the informal sector as a hopeful departure from the usual contentious politics which has manifested itself in the opposition of ideas put forward by either side of the political divide.

The recent announcement by Finance Minister Audley Shaw that he intended to impose a flat tax on various groups within the informal sector as a means of collecting more taxes was met with wide criticism. Although the terms have not been fully worked out, given the precarious state of the nation's economy, it was not hard to envision that such a proposal would emerge as the Government seeks to spread the tax burden across all sectors. It is an imaginative move in these straitened times. The PAYE earner is already taxed to the limit, so a way has to be found to improve public finances by casting the net even wider.

It is true that our history and the political culture have combined to make "no" a natural response to any form of government proposal, especially on the touchy subject of taxes. However, support for such an initiative ought not to be seen as the Opposition going soft. We submit that as it engages in vigorous advocacy for reform and accountability in fulfilment of its obligation on behalf of the people, the Opposition must search for areas of cooperation.

Applaud Dr Davies' declaration

If Jamaica is to enjoy stability and growth, it can only be achieved through cooperation. So we applaud Dr Davies' declaration at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce post-Budget public forum that "I commend and support the flat tax". We hope Mr Shaw will take this a step further and we suggest that the two political heavyweights sit down and discuss how such a tax could be implemented. The sooner such dialogue can begin, the better for Jamaica.

The question is: why can't there be similar cooperation on other issues? For example, why is there no co-operation on the thorny issue of national security, which ranks along with the economy as the major issues of concern in the country?

If we believe that politics means organising ourselves in a way to contribute to making Jamaica a better place in which to live, work and grow our families, then we must demand the steady hand of political leadership.

Our history indicates that such leadership has been elusive but there is now a growing wave of persons who have become impatient with the inability of successive governments to deal with the crime that has blighted our country and, in the face of escalating murder figures, they are stridently demanding action. These voices are getting louder and they cannot be ignored.

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