Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Letter of the Day | Do right by the little man

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2020 | 12:10 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The Government, at this time, needs to fully outline how and when they plan to roll out the $25 billion stimulus package announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Honourable Dr Nigel Clarke, in his closing 2020-21 Budget Debate on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

We want to know:

- What is in it for the ‘little man’ (the bartenders, restaurant owners, hairdressers, barbers, taxi operators, robots, higglers, masons, carpenters, farmers, and other small-business operators) who may not be captured under the income-taxpayers-earning-under-$50 million category?

- What steps should the ‘little man’ take in order to benefit from this package?

- How and when will he benefit?

It is a fact that persons in the informal sector account for a large percentage of our economy, and though they may not formally pay income tax, they contribute through the payments of general consumption tax (GCT), licences, duties, and other forms of tariffs. These enterprises should be considered the most vulnerable in our society as many of these persons support themselves and their families on a hand-to-mouth basis – “today’s earning provides today’s meal” – and, therefore, will not be able to survive this crisis and loss of income.

- The finance minister needs to state what kind of consideration is being given to these people.

He needs to detail what the Government is doing to cushion businesses regarding their banking obligations.

I would humbly suggest that the Government enter into discussions with these institutions for them to

- Allow a two-month moratorium on bank payments.

- Reduce or eliminate late fees, overdrafts, and other banking charges for the crisis period (to be determined).

AUSTERITY MEASURES

Honourable Minister, we are not making these suggestions on the basis that some banks have reported profits in excess of $26 billion over the last year because we know banks are in the business to make a profit. However, we must understand that we have a very vulnerable economy, and the demise of the small businesses will have a grave ripple effect on the banks and, in turn, the Government and economy as a whole.

Minister Clarke, I am of the knowledge that we are faced with difficult times, hence my belief that the Government should be embarking on a public-education campaign on austerity measures persons should use to curb their spending during this difficult period to ensure their own survival.

Let us do this right!

VAL WINT