It is amazing that our government, politicians, political groups, and other government officials continue to vilify Guam’s local business community as being self-serving and having special interests because businesses are doing everything they can to survive. Businesses are struggling and are asking for help. It seems that asking our elected leaders to listen to the needs of the business community, which employed close to 50,000 residents before the pandemic hit, is a bad thing.
Our government relies on the taxation of these businesses and their employees to fund the budget that sustains it. What the private sector is asking for is the empathy and consideration for businesses that are experiencing financial demise that will mean thousands of lost jobs for a majority of our island’s workforce.
When we talk about the “economy”, we need to define what this means and understand how it works. Merriam-Webster defines “economy” as – 1) the structure or conditions of economic life in a country, area, or period, and 2) thrifty and efficient use of material resources. This means being frugal with expenditures, or in other words, saving.
Being frugal is something that some of our political leaders cannot seem to do without first threatening to layoff government workers. GovGuam has many hard-working employees who are essential in accomplishing the agencies’ mandates. Unfortunately, some political leaders use scare tactics as a way to avoid being frugal in these harsh economic times. Their answer is to think of ways to tax businesses further to achieve their agendas and support their survival. Unfortunately, as we continue to see businesses close and more people unemployed, our leaders need to remember that a five percent (5%) Gross Receipts Tax on no revenue is zero revenue for the government.
Based on what our government reports, about 38,000 Guamanians are unemployed as a result of the pandemic, which is about 80% of our local workforce. Although federal funding has provided them a way to get by, this funding in no way makes up for the lost wages that families need to live. What is our government’s plan to take care of them when funding runs out?
Businesses are the lifeblood of any economy. Businesses provide essential goods and services that make our island a better place to live. The people who vilify businesses and their owners need to understand that if a business is not profitable, it will cease to exist. Business owners are everyday residents who invested their life savings into realizing their dreams and having something to pass on to their children. We also pay taxes, support local nonprofit organizations, donate to sports and medical fundraisers, and contribute to campaigns.
Strong vibrant businesses are essential for a strong economy. Cutting off the lifeblood of the economy makes no sense, and those who spin what businesses stand for to suit their agenda add insult to injury to the 38,000 employees who have already lost their jobs. We welcome fellow residents to learn about the candidates we support at actionpacguam.com. This election, let’s use our power in numbers and vote for candidates who understand what our economy and our people need.
Laura Dacanay is Executive Director of Action PAC, Inc., a small business owner for more than 30 years, and a resident of Dededo. Contact Laura at email@example.com.