Published On: Sat, Dec 29th, 2012

Bureaucratic elites have blown it

Were they alive in Saint Lucia today, both Confucius and John Maynard Keynes would have extreme difficulty understanding our parliamentary representatives and the external powers they serve.

What mindset could determine in a nearly dead economy to raise taxes by 15%,through the implementation of VAT, property taxes, service taxes, and input taxes on raw materials, just because government needs more money to pay for debts recklessly incurred?

Not even Keynes would’ve supported the view that high taxes would cure Saint Lucia’s deficit. More likely he would rather have settled for a reduction of taxes with lower interest rates. This would encourage businesses to seek investment options for growth, create jobs and leave employees with more disposable income for discretionary spending.

Therefore, it is illogical for government to expect their policy of high taxes that is primarily repressive and designed to take advantage of the poor and the middle class will significantly improve state revenue in the worst of economic times.

This physiology is restrictive to human decision-making and freedom over the lives of our children and the country at large.  This also has implications for human progress, with the capacity to further suppress the economy and the individual choices of people as they go about their daily lives.

Even Confucius would’ve supported smaller government, limited taxation, lower interest rates and humane authority in a society aimed at promoting balanced growth and exemplary leadership.

But in an attempt to showcase dominance and the haste to raise punitive taxes, the government report on the first month of VAT reads as follows:

“The Inland Revenue Department collected a total of EC$10.06 million. In turn, the Customs Department collected EC$15.08 million. The total amount collected is, therefore, $25.14 million. It should be noted that the amount collected in VAT by the Customs and Excise Department is gross, meaning that a significant amount has to be refunded based on the refund mechanism of the VAT system.The amount to be refunded is being calculated and has not yet been determined at this time.”

This seems to mean that the state can with impunity extract revenue from the tax base and decide at its own pleasure what amount to return, after it has satisfied the wishes of the political autocrats that govern the country.

By the look of things as presented by the government report, the VAT may have rounded up more taxpayers but still could not surpass in substantial amounts the cumulative taxes recorded prior to its implementation.

This grim disclosure is the first sign that the taxman will be more aggressive and seek to demand for our wallets—to take what they consider their share and how much we are permitted to keep for ourselves. There will be no exceptions, for robbery knows no exceptions, only where there’s money!

Meanwhile the government remains indifferent to the unavoidable fact that Europe and the rest of the world no longer believe in Socialism. Worse, their dictatorial obsession with the dead system is positioning Saint Lucia further away from growth. How shortsighted can you get!

Further, in troubling times like these, one would expect that the parliamentary representatives would represent the views and interest of their constituencies and the people of Saint Lucia, and cast their votes in parliament based on conscience and according to key legislation.

But that is not the case. They continue to ignore and avoid the people who elected them in favour of strict adherence to strict party lines. Meanwhile, society grows ever more frustrated.

With all the signs of political and economic distress at unprecedented levels, the poor and the middle class may soon have little choice but to take back their democracy—by whatever means—from the liberal autocratic elites!


Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached

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