Government needs to roll out their initiatives to deal with the cost of the living
During the early stages of COVID 19 pandemic, countries throughout the world provided stimulus and other initiatives to provide relief to their residents. Despite that COVID 19 still exists, the economies of many countries have rebounded and the majority of residents have returned to work and are getting their full pay. Unfortunately though, there are some residents who are still struggling and were perhaps struggling even before COVID 19. One of the main reasons why people are struggling is due to the high cost of living and so I was very surprised when the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands announced the $500 stimulus but did not reveal their initiatives to deal with the cost of living.
Based on the January 18th 2022 Financially Speaking show in which the Deputy Premier, Hon. E.J. Saunders was the guest, he said that the Government will be rolling out a number of initiatives to deal with the cost of the living and I know the $500 stimulus cannot be one of them as this is a short term fix.
The $500 stimulus
You know when I first heard the announcement, I immediately remembered the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for lifetime.” However, upon further reflection, I had to withdraw my initial thoughts because quite frankly successive Governments have put initiatives in place to teach us how to fish. For example, we have a Community College but how many of us are using the institution to enhance and improve your skills. We have the CED (Center for Entrepreneurial Development) but how many of us are using the facility to assist your businesses. There is also the Invest TCI and how many of us have applied for the $10,000 grant.
With all that said, I believe because the Government year-end is rapidly approaching which is March 31st, the Government perhaps has excess funds and want to satisfy some people by offering them a stimulus. The truth is many people are disappointed in the performance of the Government who has been in power for almost a year.
Therefore I think the Government thought one way to alleviate the criticism is to provide cash to the people. Well this has resulted in mixed reaction from the community even from some people who were asking for more stimulus.
Personally, my thing is the Government has extra funding and they want to provide cash to the people, then it is fine but I don’t think that everybody should be getting the $500 and so I have concluded that this $500 is a distraction.
There are some people in genuine need of the stimulus and so I hope those that do not need it will take the $500 and help others that are really in need.
I think given the NIB announcement of the increase in a rates and the fact that the high cost of living continues to be unaddressed, the Government should have announced their initiatives simultaneously as they announced the $500 stimulus.
Initiatives to deal with the cost of living
I do believe that the Deputy Premier was speaking the truth when he said on the Financially Speaking Show that the Government has some initiatives to deal with the cost of the living. However, I cannot comprehend why the announcement of these initiatives have not been made at the same time as the $500 stimulus. They do not have to wait until the budget is passed, they can at least advise us of what these initiatives are as people are worried how they are going to pay for the increase in the NIB rates even though NIB advised us two years ago about the rate increase.
The Government needs to review the current duty rate structure. If there is such a significant surplus, then there is room to reduce the rate and if they reduce the rate, they need to ensure that the suppliers reflect the reduced rated in the sale price of the goods they are selling to the consumers.
They need to expand the list of categories that qualified for the Invest TCI grants.
Individuals and Businesses need access to capital.
I know there is a lot of pressure on the Government to increase the minimum wage but I personally have mixed feelings about this especially from being a small business owner. The majority of businesses in the country are small businesses and increasing the rate will do harm too many small businesses and furthermore many people will still not be satisfied with the increase in the rate no matter what it is. If the Government decides to increase the minimum wage rate, they will need to implement some initiatives particularly for the small businesses.
People need hope and people need help to deal with the high cost of living. I believe if the Government had announced their initiatives to deal with the cost of living along with the stimulus, the reaction would have been more positive.
Government does not need to tease people with short term fixes. It has been 11 months now since we got a new Government and by now the Government should have announced their plans that the Deputy Primer talked about on January 18th on Financially Speaking Show.