The two persons who really stood out in the view of THE NEW TODAY in the debate on the 2013 budget were MP for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement and Trade Union representative in the Senate, Rae Roberts.
The two were a breath of fresh air in their contributions and offered some thought-provoking ideas and outside of the normal scheme of things.
Both gentlemen offered noble suggestions that any government in the country should give worthy consideration in terms of implementing in taking the country to another level.
It was more or less too much of the same ole same ole from many of the speakers as they addressed both houses of Parliament.
Mr. Clement threw down a challenge to his own government to take action against Parliamentarians who as lawmakers were in fact really lawbreakers by cheating the State out of its taxes.
The MP did not point a direct accusing finger at any parliamentarian in particular but he clearly knew something and decided to raise the issue at the right place in order to bring shame and disgrace to anyone who might be guilty.
This is a very important issue raised by Mr. Clement and no one should seek to trivialise it or worse still encourage it at the highest decision making body in the country.
As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister as the most senior statesman in the house should have already had a quiet word with his colleague MP to get specific information on who in the house might be in breach of the country’s tax laws.
If the allegation made is true then it could compromise those public officers who are charged with collecting the nation’s taxes.
A public officer might be hard pressed or not inclined at all to go out in a serious way after a Member of Parliament who can best be described as a tax cheat or a common white collar thief.
It becomes even harder for the tax collector to move against such a person especially in they belong to the Government side in the house.
In addition, our government is often engaged in “begging” foreign governments for financial assistance to help with our development. The aid that is given by these governments comes from taxes paid by their people.
Why should we be asking other countries for financial aid when our own lawmakers are refusing to pay their taxes owed to the State, which are needed for our own overall development?
In the United States, everyone fears the IRS when it comes to paying taxes. There is always a rush by American taxpayers to pay off their taxes by the deadline date given in order to avoid the wrath of the IRS. Why can’t the same apply to Grenada?
This issue of lawmakers being lawbreakers should become an unwritten rule by our political parties in selecting persons to serve in Parliament.
If any of the current members of Parliament are owing taxes to the State and refusing to pay then a quiet word should be made to them to do the honourable thing and resign from the law-making body.
The St. George North-east MP also laid out a new road map for Parliament to get with the times and take advantage of the modern gadgets to record and store its information.
This newspaper is also urging the government to give serious consideration to some of the suggestions offered by the Trade union representative, Mr. Roberts because they focus on new streams of revenue for the country.
Some of the suggestions like the making of coffins in Grenada and keeping the sewing of uniforms inside the country have the potential of creating jobs and reducing on the amount of money leaving our shores.
The tailor shop at the prison and the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) could be used as nurseries to provide the expertise to budding entrepreneurs who can then go out and develop their own businesses with the hope of tapping into a ready-made market.
Overall the government has sought to give the impression in the budget that it is bent on cutting down on the heavy expenditure by the State in some areas and seeking to earn more money at the same time.
It is left to be seen in the short to medium term how successful the government will be with the measures as outlined in the fiscal package.
This is important given the silence of the government on the exact sources of the funds that are to be raised to do the things that are promised
for fiscal 2013.
Only one word of caution for the time being – the government ought to be careful with its return to selling passports for cash because if one falls into the wrong hands the consequences might be too heavy a burden for the country to bear.
The time is now over for the catch phrase, “we will deliver”, but to actually start to “deliver” on some of the many promises made for the February 19 general elections.