The gamesmanship of political patronage: By Melanius Alphonse
Globalization has become a key word in our modern day world. However, a closer look at the inference of the word simply means making something more adoptable globally.
In 1994, NAFTA and Mexico took control of trade and off shoring, while China made its entry into the World Trade Organization.
What followed were a mass exodus of manufacturing, construction and urban development and the off shoring of goods and services.
Were the authorities’ looking out for the people then and now?
Or is it proper to ask, have the people lost control of their government, and to whom?
There are many theories on how to package an economic recovery; how to boost consumer confidence; and how to jumpstart economic models. But, the assertion to Value Added Tax (VAT); – while ignoring trade loopholes; – industry policy and theories are all gamesmanship of political patronage and economic potholes.
On Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 in the parliament of Saint Lucia, we all witnessed a clear indication of such.
First, the realization that the implementation of VAT schedule for September1st 2012 requires more time. The new date, according to Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony for the implementation of VAT is October 1st, 2012.
In my opinion, more delays, more time and more confusion is expected. The VAT infrastructure is simply not in place and subsequently not ready for implementation.
Secondly, we witnessed the usual norm. And when it finally came, it was no surprise when the Prime Minister announce that his government would be borrowing an additional US $50 million – (Note the currency of choice) – He claimed that; the money is expected to be used towards the implementation of projects under the capital expenditure component of the 2012/2013 budget.
Evidently, government stimulation has not jumpstart any economy and will not. The theory to spend or stimulate out of it won’t happen either; except to create a bottomless pit of hopelessness.
To top it off, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony finally admitted what most of us have known all along. The collection of hotel base revenue has never been a priority for governments past and present.
According to Dr. Anthony, “when persons do not pay taxes as required by law the state sometimes turns a blind eye, how else can we explain the fact, that in the Hotel sector for example there are outstanding liabilities of (HAT) hotel accommodation tax of EC$36 million. How do we explain that?”
As head of State of Saint Lucia’s (past and present government), was this an attempt by Dr. Anthony to lay blame at the feet of others, and not judge his own stewardship as commander in chief of our country?
Of course, Stephenson King has a lot to answer for derelict of his responsibility in protecting the interest of the people of Saint Lucia, but so does Dr. Anthony.
The collection of taxes is a principle obligation of the State. It is done to meet “government” responsibility for the safety and well being of its people. Therefore, one can fully understand why citizens complain when there isn’t a social safety net to protect them, after they have had to struggle so hard to make ends meet with very little in their pocket.
Meanwhile, on one hand EC$36 million in hotel accommodation tax is classified as outstanding liabilities – and on the other hand, large sums of tax concession are authorized for these same hotels by the government of Saint Lucia.
Who’s fooling who?
It is not surprising – it’s the gamesmanship of political patronage.
In return Saint Lucians get poorer, the future of Saint Lucia is mortgage to the maximum allowed, with the expectation that 15% VAT will take care of runaway borrowing.
The bottom line is this, more times than not, I have to admit that the decision makers are over their heads and should be reminded that – it’s not the government’s money, but that of the people of Saint Lucia.
And even if no one in political authority will ever take this advice, there are alternatives through the LPM press release dated June 9th 2012 – “The SLP government needs to inherit equity to safeguard potential losses now and in the future” and the article of June 14th 2012 Options to Growth, published in the Voice of Saint Lucia.