Features

Poor people fed up…and still hungry

Written by Ray Damdar

‘Jamaica’s fight against Poverty’

 

Recently, there has been some discussion on the efficacy of the government’s poverty eradication programmes, highlighting the fact that poverty in Jamaica has been halved over the past 13 years. That time frame, since 1992, happens to coincide with the reign of Prime Minister P J Patterson.

Wha P.J. don’t know is dat de reason why de pavaty drap dong likkle bit is cause Western Union Money Transfer open shop in JA. Cause if it wasn’t fi de likkle farin currency wey Aunt Lulu and Uncle Mattie sen every month from UK and Merica most people would not even ave piece a chicken back fi nyam. So Parliament can gwan pat dem one a nedda pan dem back bout de poverty rate chap inna half.

A fifth of the Jamaican people do not earn, or more correctly, do not consume enough to break past the poverty line, which, in 2004 was $58,508 or less than US$1,000 a year. The question is what is to be done about it?

Mi nuh wha de Govt a do bout it; but our people are coming up wid dere owna ideas. Wi ave more Jamaicans traveling on dere cousin’s visa/passport wey dem look like (which by de way is also fake). When dem get to farin; yuh neva see or hear from dem again until dem get deported.

In Jamaica if yuh nuh padlock up di dirt in yuh yard now dem wi poison yuh dawg and tief it. Tief is as frequent as blackout. Every wey yuh turn yuh ave whole heap a professional beggas a badda yuh (not to mention de mount a madman dem). Once yuh give de begga man somting; im wi mark yuh house and always rally back to yuh yard like a DJ pulling up de hottest dancehall tune.‘ Rewind and come again my selecta!!’. Years ago begga man used beg fi a couple dollas now is ‘ Hi sir, cyan beg yuh one five hundred dollas please’.

It is important, therefore, that governments formulate and implement policies which induce investment and growth. Those policies must exist in an environment of public trust and confidence. Among those ingredients must be public order and safety, the rule of law and the absence of corruption.

Dat mean when de country get farin loans fi help de small farmers dem, wi should not see de Finance Minista wid a chris new benz. De aid money weh wi get haffi filta down to de likkle business man in de community. Instead it seems to flow as freely as ow passengers katch up in de front of a pack mini-bus when somebody leggo a stink fart in de back of de bus. De money always stop at Gvt officials and upper class citizens and neva get to de sky juice vender on de side of de road. Trust and confidence is what wi need?!?! Wi ave nuff a dat in our Government. Jus as much as we ave in Air Jamaica being on time fi a flight.

What we mean is for there to be structured investment that creates jobs and profit, which leads to reinvestment and more consumption, and so on. The reason for this is obvious.

Of course it obvious… Structured investment is jus a big word fi ‘Butch Stewart should own mor dan Sandals and Air JA’. De Government nuh like de street side vendors dem cause it hard fi charge dem tax. How yuh going mek de Bobo dread who a hussle im mat an broom in Half Way Tree pay tax when de only balance sheet im know is de middle piece a zinc pan im roof top.

For ‘higglers’ (women street vendors) who travel to Panama, Miami or Curaçao to buy goods for sale back home, the complaint is taxes. After 15 years as a higgler Letilda complains: ‘Customs duties are so high it’s as if you are buying the goods twice.

If Customs could do it dey would even charge additional taxes depending on how ugly yuh look. A cyan see de custom offica seying ‘Amm.. Mr. Shabba Ranks dat will be 500% custom tax tiday please.” Wid de amount of duty dem charge pan de goods yuh woulda tink dat is de custom offica imself swim cross de Caribbean Sea wid de suitcase pan im back.

We can hardly survive on what we earn. I think they should tax the big people more. They’re the ones who benefit from all the foreign loans.’

Dis is de cry of de teacha, market woman, bus conducta and de common man who is peeing behind a tree on de street side. How com a country wid so much foreign dollas coming in from tourism and odda natural resources be so poor. Is because likkle bit a people own nuff a de country and any foreign aid or help dat de country get always seem to help de people wey own nuff.

 

About the author

Ray Damdar is a Jamaican living abroad in Hartford, CT amongst the third largest Jamaican population in Merica. He is constantly amused by his culture has no odda choice but to comment.
Favorite saying “ every turn mi turn, macca juk mi!!”

Article Excerpts taken from the Jamaican Observer ‘JA Government claims that Poverty has been reduce by 50 percent in last 13 years’ November 13th,2005.
Commentary courtesy of Guinep Tree Productions.

About the author

Ray Damdar