All posts by Amberia

I am a Jamaican by birth, family oriented, and a graduate from the UWI Mona. I have work experiences in the public, private and NGO sectors and really want to see a safer, more orderly and less corrupt Jamaica for all fellow Jamaicans.

“Successfully Single” series (post 4)

Successful Living

Successful in the Solitude

As we delve once again in to this idea of being successfully single even if not satisfied we will explore the success found in the solitude of the single lifestyle. This is time that can be used in two ways for self examination and secondly for self enhancement. It is alone time to selfishly and unapologetic-ally do things for us; basically it’s time for a “selfie”.

It is in this atmosphere of being “alone” that we are given an opportunity to scrutinize who we are in a deep and meaningful way. It is getting an understanding of and being able to articulate our likes and dislikes, knowing what makes us angry, sad or elated. The solitude allows us to connect with childhood issues that will be unhealthy in our marriages if we desire to get there, or if we don’t knowing who we are is healthy…

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Crossing Over on the Same Page

It’s that time of year again when when we detox, reflect and decide on “new year resolutions”. But have you ever stop to think about your 2015, 2014, 2013″New Year Resolutions”: weight loss, new job, buy a car, save and invest, become debt free….the list goes on.

2016 is a few hours away and already you are saying “I must lose some of this weight in 2016.” Hold a moment, didn’t you say the very same thing around this time last year and the year before. Ha ah! Yes you did. So what will be different this time, gym? healthier meal choices? exercise? green juice diet? O yes! DIETING!!!

Well let’s be real, you hate the gym, you work late and miss most evening workouts because you cannot afford to miss deadlines at work. Oh, don’t forget that the children are to be picked up from nursery, after school programs etc. You started January and February eating healthy and exercising but now its December, you don’t even realize you’re back into your normal modus operandi. You had a support team but the team has faded, not your fault, come on now, you were too busy to meet once then twice then always.

OMG! you owe so much money; car loan, mortgage, student loan, credit cards, furniture/appliance/ vacation etc! You recognized that all or most of your salary goes into repayment of debts and you had a GREAT plan to reduce the debts by the end of the year and increase your savings and investments. Where are you now?

Too often, we make resolutions without a plan. Too often we make plans without a strategy. And too often we develop strategies without sharing them with those who will be directly impacted by them or can provide guidance. Are you existing in the continuum – consistently crossing year to year with the same issues? Yes? OK then do “something” about it!!!

Solutions to help maintain and achieve your New Year Resolutions:

  1. Write down each plan separately, determine the timeline by when you want to accomplish each, identify the resources that will be require to actualize these plans and set yourself reminders.
  2. Ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (SMART)  and simple.
  3. Develop plan B, C, D to Z if necessary. This is when you consider most if not all the ‘what ifs’. Yes, your plan may not go the way you want it to, therefore, a wise planner mitigates against risks and constraints to reduce anxiety and stress.
  4. Always remember there is another “New Year”, so it is important to have some plans starting in the 6th or 10th month of the year and end the sometime in the next year or next two years. All I’m saying is, don’t try to break any records here, you are not Usain Bolt! This is your life, live it realistically.
  5. The last but no means least, SACRIFICE!                                                                                  i. The money for gym fees, pay it to your loans, and YouTube simple exercise routines and be consistent, you will see great results. Also do more walking, take the stairs at least 3 times a week                                                                                              ii. Pack lunch – healthier and cheaper                                                                                      iii. Consciously Fast once per week, it helps with weight loss , saves money and helps you spiritually                                                                                                                      iv. I know your friend support your bbq ticket last year but that doesn’t mean you should purchase tickets for every fish fry or bbq event in your office                                                                                               v. We have Easter, Independence, Memorial holidays,  this doesn’t mean you should party for every event. Stay home, relax and reflect, it will save you thousands that can be saved/invested or help you get closer to a debt free life.

So, you’re thinking. I know you are, with that said, I won’t go any further than ask – will you be crossing over on the same old page?

 

 

Taxation, Corruption and the IMF Programme

Taxation

Putting our baskets where we can’t reach has been our practice for years now. The Government of Jamaica (both JLP and PNP led) has introduced several new taxes and new items to the tax list.  Last fiscal year General Consumption Tax (GCT) was introduced on all raw food except chicken, flavoured milk, oats, patties and animal feed. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has indicated that fastfood restaurants may be required to pay a special tax. This is so since fastfood has led to some of the health issues (obesity, hypertension, diabetes among others) that has put a strain on the MOH budget.  Mention is been made of GCT on gasoline as a viable option to collect the projected amount of revenue to support the 2014/2015 budget. However, even if every item and service provided to the nation is taxed, the GOJ will never have enough resources to finance the budget. The issue that we face is not taxation, too many things are taxed in Jamaica. The main challenge that we experience is the inability to collect these taxes and corruption.

Recommendation: The GOJ must broaden the tax net so that more companies are under the tax paying umbrella. Additionally, if a company does not pay its taxes, deny them all incentives and start confiscating assets for auction.

Corruption

I observe the National Integrity Action (NIA) https://niajamaica.org/issues-of-corruption/ focus on corruption, investment and development. My main contention with corruption is it is too commonplace in the public sector. The public sector is the single largest employer in Jamaica, as at 2009/2010 it accounted for approximately J$126 billion or 12% of GDP http://www.capricaribbean.org/sites/default/files/text/Public%20Sector%20Reform%20in%20Jamaica%20July%206%202011.pdf.  Public sector effectiveness and efficiency are critical to the nations development, but might I add that a renewing of the minds of public sector employees is most critical to Jamaica’s development. There are key sectors that are responsible for revenue for the country, yet, the same persons entrusted to carry the revenue buckets have punched holes in the sides.

The Auditor General, Pamela Munroe Ellis and her department cannot do it alone. The GOJ and the people of Jamaica must demand more accountability and responsibility from those who are employed, not volunteering to get the job done. The  Licencing Authority, Examination Depot, Port Authority of Jamaica, Jamaica Customs and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (Police Traffic Division) just to name a few public serving entities that have a high corruption rate. I would not even go into mainstream political corruption, that is for another article. However, one should be clear by now the why the GOJ cannot collect the revenues it should.

The GOJ, I believe lacks the political will to seriously prosecute companies and individuals that are evading tax compliance. I know of a few companies that withdraws NIS, NHT, Education and Income taxes from their empoyees year after year and never pay over a cent to the GOJ, hence employees have no benefits.  Everywhere one does business GCT and other related taxes are superimposed, however, the GOJ has never been able to collect it. Is it that the GOJ cannot or will not collect?

Recommendation:  Whenever the GOJ finds its employees (at all levels) involved in corruption, especially defrauding the public purse, they ought to be fired, charged and any assets they have they can be proven was gained by their corrupt activities must be confiscated and auctioned where possible.

For private sectors, they must remove all incentives and enforce the laws that apply for them to pay what is owed. In developed countries, business owners often times compliant with tax laws.

IMF Programme

Proverbs 22:7The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender“.

The IMF expects Jamaica to reduce its public sector wage bill from 12% to 9% of GDP by 2016. This is a major move, since the GOJ does not seem to have a growth strategy. Proverbs tell us about rich and poor. We have leaders who are not innovative. Jamaica is a wealthy place, however, we need the IMF to give us ultimatums and conditionalities that will eventually erode our riches. I say we are rich, that is why investors can come and make millions in profits annually.

Jamaica need to review the programme between Greece and the IMF so that we do not go down that slippery slope. On a serious note, couldnt the GOJ pass new bills and laws and develop new policies without the intervention of the IMF?

Conclusion

The GOJ has realized that things cannot continue the way they used to – free for all. The country must be managed like a successful business like NCB, and not a social welfare club. The public sector must refrain from the glitters of corruption and help in nation building. The general population must try not to support corruption and finally the businesses and individuals must pay their taxes by will or by force.  In this way we can say goodbye to the IMF sooner.