Current Affairs

Ease Away From The Edge

YardEdge once again welcomes Guest Blogger Nicholas Stephenson.


Little by little there seems to be a ray of hope on the horizon. The speed of moral decline fueled with fury since the 1970s by the inaction/unwillingness of our leaders to act positively in the interests of all our people now seems to be slowing. Or am I being too optimistic to think that we have the will to make the necessary hard decisions?

When the little things in life are addressed and dealt with, then the big things don’t get a chance to be a problem.

But how do we keep us easing away from the edge?

Since 2008 there have been two decisions drawing the brakes on our slide deeper into chaos:

1. The enforcement of the Noise Abatement Act.
2. The ban of violent and obscene lyrics on the airwaves.

But is this enough? No its not, and the reality is we are so advanced down the path of a self-centered, opportunistic and corrupt lifestyle, that only a strong willed and possibly benevolent dictatorship can halt any further decline. Zero tolerance needs to be the order of the day.

So what can we do?

A). Discipline and work

1. The immediate enforcement of road traffic legislation – individuals not in adherence to have their vehicles impounded and only released on payment of a fine, plus any necessary remedial action. Initially targeting rush hour traffic and the daily non-adherence to the rule of law – any road in Kingston would be a good starting place where every morning coaster buses and route taxis drive on the wrong side of the road to beat the traffic queues.

2. Works programmes to take people off the street – roads, bridges, gullies and sidewalk remedial works, painting of buildings, water implementation etc. Each parish to develop a plan inclusive of costs – costs to be analysed by accounting entities (Price Waterhouse etc); procurement committees independent of Government to approve contracts and contractors – full media publication of all works projects, contract awards, costs, proposed time frames, penalties for late completion etc.

3. The immediate start of the Port Royal and Kingston Harbour project – we have talked about this for years. Now is the best time to start this programme to ensure future growth of our tourism market. Who in the world would not come and visit the once pirate capital of the world and the wealthiest city in its heyday? Recreate this area with vision.

4. As education is the surest guarantee of a better future, the building of schools across the island needs to be prioritized, and should form part of point 2.

5. Revamp of the costs of education – teachers and principals to be on fixed term contracts with an incentive based on students’ performance at GSAT and CXC – no performance, no incentive.

6. Adequate security at every school entrance – this should be a reception point where parents wait to see a teacher/principal. Where discipline is not enforced at home then it needs to be enforced at school and our teachers on the front line protected.

B). Finances

1. Reduction of PAYE to 20% and an increase in GCT to 20%.

2. 50% increase in the tax on vehicles.

3. 100% increase in the tax on firearms, with the exception of security firms, where tax should remain at the present $6000 per annum.

4. Structured PAYE tax system as in the UK – tax structured according to salary with a possible 3 bands (20%, 25% and 40%)

5. Not just a freeze but a reduction of 5% to 10% in the income of public service employees – this is to save existing jobs. The 10% would be for those in the higher income bracket.

6. Private sector is to follow suit to show solidarity and the belief in Jamaica and its future.

7. The declaration by all major companies of sales to customers by volume and $ value -each customers trading name, business address etc is to be provided. This is to go hand in hand with an increase in Revenue Collectors who will be provided with relevant contact details of the above recorded and reported customers – the collectors to be paid a commission of revenue collected.

8. The compulsory carrying and utilization of the National Identification card for all legal and financial transactions. In other words if I run a company, any customer trading with me must have a National Identification card. This assists the implementation of the above point. Where the customer is a company, then the owner/proprietor/Managing Director must provide his/her National Identification card.

9. The immediate inclusion into the tax system of all firms who employ staff on a contractual basis where presently those individuals are responsible for their own statutory payments. Companies are to be forced to collect statutory deductions at source and pay over to the relevant Government agencies. Start with the security industry, at each business place they are contracted to. At the same time include any other contracted in firms. Start with the large registered and publicly known companies who utilize contractors.

10. A 20% tax on all remittance payments – remember that even within the PAYE system, any outside income must be declared and is liable to taxation.

C). Ad hoc

11. And finally a touchy subject – population control. This is not about “killing off” any race, as I believe this should be practiced by all countries, all nations, all cultures – if you are unable to adequately finance your child’s/children’s growth, development, education, health etc then you should not have children.

I believe China is the only country that practices this by dictate – instead we should try offering an incentive to each woman so as to ensure that children are born only when the parent/parents are financially, mentally, physically and spiritually able to take care of children.


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  21. Anonymous
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    Thanks for your responses. I hope I can answer them with some amount of clarity…even then we may have to agree to disagree!
    1. I hope there are repeated calls to the Police authorities about the noise coming from Barbican Square….unless everyone chips in to deal with this nuisance then it will continue. So make the calls.
    2. I disagree. The taxation is not to burden further the poor of this island but to reduce the disparity in incomes that exist. So a structured tax rate would impact those at the higher income levels (they can afford it). Unlike the developed world, the inequalities of income in Jamaica are far too high and need to be adjusted.
    3. The National ID card was primarily to be used to capture those persons who should be paying tax but are not. However I personally advocate its use in all transactions….the truth is I have nothing to hide, and therefore do not feel that the MANDATORY use of such an ID card is an abuse of civil liberties.

    A further depression of economic development?? We need to spend sensibly to get out of this rut…thats why the infrastructure repair improvements, school construction, Port Royal development etc.
    And to ask who is going to invest their money locally?????? We have a massive portion of our population who would rather invest in alternative schemes because they all have a GET RICH QUICK mentality. If all those individuals invested in manufacturing and businesses locally rather than schemes that provide a totally unrealistic 10% return per month, then we would not be in this problem. But no, we have the FREENESS mentality that has plagued us since the beginning of the 70’s.
    And our debt burden. I recall in the 90’s that approximately 40% of our national debt was not owed to foreign companies/governments/individuals but to Jamaicans. And whereas we could renegotiate with foreigners, and did, did we ever get the chance to renogiate the portion of our debt that was owed locally?
    jamaicans need to have more belief in Jamaica and themselves….how many Jamaicans have US and UK accounts where they continue to deposit money? I remember in Singapore that on the way to the airport leaving the island, people would want to buy back the Singaporean $s….not the US or UK you still had in your possession.

    Have a great weekend.


  22. April 17, 2009 at 11:11 am — Reply

    3 immediate comments:

    1 – With all the hubbub about the night noise issue, there seems to be, from my anecdotal evidence, no enforcement of it whatsoever. I live in the north-eastern corner of Barbican, and about 5 nights a week I can hear (very loudly) three different dances! not one but three!!!! basically they are coming from Barbican Square, Stand Pipe and Sandy Gully. These dances often don’t start till after midnight, and they go quite late (I’m up late working many nights), even on weeknights. I feel truly sorry for any children closer to those areas who have school the next day.

    2 – Jamaicans need to demand accountability for their tax dollar before they pay a single penny. Jamaica has an extremely high tax rate for a developing country, both in absolute terms as well as in the cost just to pay taxes (running a small business, I am painfully aware of the later), and yet what do we get for these taxes? Security- no. Peace & quiet- apparently not. Reliable infrastructure- no. Reasonable roads- no (the highways were built at great additional cost to the country in terms of debt). A government that responds to the needs of its citizens, other than in the “let’s block the roads so the MP can come down here” kind of way- no. A civil service (paid for by OUR tax dollars already) that views serving the public as its primary responsibility- no. I could go on- in other words, I am not anti-tax at all- I would happily pay even higher taxes if I felt that they were being spent responsibly and in the national interest. Both governments have failed miserably in accountability to citizens and taxpayers.

    3 – You’re making the suggestions above in a number of other points of “guilty until proven innocent” – a National ID system is this, as is the already existing need for a TCC. The state is already a tremendous abuser of the civil liberties of its citizens, giving them more authority in this regard does not serve any purpose. Let’s give the citizens examples of responsible leadership (including punishing those in the public service who transgress) and reasons to be tax compliant and to behave in a civil manner- the government does not need a bigger stick.

    And finally, in a realpolitik sort of way, these kind of measures would only serve to further depress economic development in Jamaica, leading to further job losses, flight of capital, and the resultant social consequences. Who’s going to invest their money locally in business when the already difficult task of running a business is made even more onerous and costly?

    I do agree quite strongly, however, with your points in part A (other than #1), and with C11- Jamaica desperately needs some form of population control policy, even the “two is too many” campaign and making fathers financially responsible for their pickney would go a long way, as would a large-scale public service campaign re. birth control.

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