by TMR Staff
The Premier has been insisting in his several utterances, seemingly accepting that his government ‘messed up’ on the tariff shake-up debacle. That is so, since he returned from misrepresenting the people of Montserrat as he recommended the delisting of Montserrat from the United Nations Decolonisation list.
There hasn’t been heard anyone who is in agreement with his oration, as everyone dismiss his oration to be false or at best deceptive. That the opposition hastened to file for debate a motion of no confidence at the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly, without testing whether there might be a resounding “I agree,” or not is somewhat indicative of the mood of the people. The people are asking what do you think about it and what do you will happen. No one is saying, that it is a waste of time or that or even why bother. Legislators are quiet and seem to be carefully reserving their thoughts for the debate. But, there is some nervousness around, since there are other issues that may well be raised during the debate that may cause even some on the government side to find favour.
On the tariff debacle! Premier Meade need to brief his uninformed ministers about what he says publicly about the tariff increases. When they argue that it is important to raise revenue in order to buy medicine at the hospital while he says it was never the intention, suggests blind obedience. Suggests that although he must have received their blessings when they passed the tariff into law, it is clear they were either improperly briefed at cabinet level or they were deceived.
Who were the public servants who caused a reduction of 15% and much more on such items as lipstick, alcohol, amplifiers and similar items, while the rate goes up on some such, as fish items and basic items, especially not available on the island? Of course, it wasn’t the technicians who decided that the duty and consumption tax must now be put on computers and replace them on items made duty free under Statutory Rules and Orders!
It is well enunciated that the top finance officials deliberately did nothing to make items they had previously decreed as non-dutiable along with no consumption tax, to be now dutiable and taxable, placing the zero consumption tax as necessary with the 5% normally paid adding in many cases a 10% . That is so for computers for example on which the tariff is now 15%. What is worse is the ridiculous explanation actually given that every household should by now have purchased a computer. Can this be for real, and with what state of mind was such a statement conceived?
These phrases from the government press release approved by cabinet leave much to be desired, taking into consideration the things now being said. “…and the number of tax rates will be reduced in many instances…Careful consideration has been given by the relevant Departments to the various policy objectives.” What was the intention when the statement did not add that some rates will go up? And what should consumers and especially parents expect the word ‘careful’ to mean?
Why were the private sector and other agencies representing the consumers not consulted for their input if the real intent was to be revenue neutral? The contentiousness could have been avoided, just like, that over the delisting and the MOU to a lesser extent. Let’s include the new policy or decision to ask all persons and businesses expecting payment from Government to have bank accounts, so government will send their payments to their accounts.
The reasons given for the latter is embarrassing and is insulting to the private sector when a public service declares it has no interest in working for the support of the private sector. That was way out of line, but cabinet is well aware of that. There are far too many considerations involved in both of these issues. Purity in plans and desires can only achieve goodness.
There are those of us who understand the MOU and why it was created, notwithstanding that the Premier says it was produced by the Montserrat public service. We are not blind or deaf to the ‘tax discussion’ that took place since September or before last year.
The government release was deceptive and leaves much suspicion especially after the Premier tries to explain some of the actions or desires! “…reducing three rates that are currently in existence will be reduced to two effectively abolishing service tax, will reduce the burden – instead of having three rates there are now two and this will simplify…”
It didn’t matter how many rates there would be, if the service tax figure of 5% was going to be consumed under consumption tax.
The messenger said: “The service tax charge on imports will be abolished – this is part of measures to simplify the import tax rates.”
Director General of the Montserrat Custom and Revenue Service Frank Ferguson explained “… we forecast that the end result of all this will actually be ‘revenue neutral’,” he sought to explain.
That, we accept may have been the idea, but cabinet and managers failed the people when they did not have the rates tested after they were rehashed three times with their directives before they were finally satisfied.
“In the main, items used by the less well off in society will attract a lower banding whilst luxury items such as some electronic goods will attract a higher banding.”
Tyres: Considerable decrease! Ice cream freezers and ice cream powders – increase 12%, there is only one business now, maybe two – is that luxury, while the tariff on ice cream (imported) has gone down. The list can go on and on making it very difficult or even impossible to follow the message, there was no intention to increase…
Sure, luxury can be relative, hmm. Why touch that? Is the foregoing correct? Show it to us – if it is wrong you should know, check it and tell us. Please do not complicate any further and don’t treat us all with mere words.
If the Premier is serious about the willingness of government to relook the situation as it was not his government’s intention to raise new or increased revenue, he should apologise for the sloppy work of those responsible and for his governments lack of oversight. The reference of announcers opining that as they see it, “Montserrat shall be a drunk nation’ – medicine gone up and rum and vodka gone down”, may symbolize much more than may be taken by the seeming jest of the words.’
Governor Davis has attempted to distance the UK government from the Premier’s statement in Quito, Ecuador about his assurance that the UK would stand by him on his recommendation, really only serves to further condemn the Premier, since the statement left little room for doubt, as if it was actually dictated to him. How many times has the Premier made similar statements, including those of ridicule?