Published On: Mon, Dec 10th, 2012

“VAT” Not the Last Word

CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The aim of a truly patriotic opposition party should not be focused on wanting to see a government fail. However, when a government behaves as if it is the only repository of knowledge, and does not respect any suggestions or ideas coming from persons not closely associated with its party, then the only recourse that is left for any party in this case, the Lucian People's Movement (LPM) is to take a firm stand to not only oppose that government, but to take the appropriate democratic steps eventually to end the reign of that government.

While the LPM has wholly embraced the noble political philosophy that most political organisations should be designed to contest elections, and, if successful, to form a progressive government that is truly representative of all the people of Saint Lucia, it remains painfully aware that our past and current system of governance is not designed to enforce or uphold some of the key components of good governance.

The LPM points to the last elections as another prime example of the kind of backward thinking that has inhibited Saint Lucian society from binding together in national unity and achieving anything of significance, and which is capable of contributing to the long-term good of the nation.

The last elections did not drive the message home to the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) that they could not assume power with a sense of arrogance as they did in 1997, and govern as if they had been given a mandate to ram whatever they wanted down the throats of the Saint Lucian people. If anything, these last elections should have humbled the SLP into the realisation that almost half of the country did not vote for them, and that the unconvincing mandate they were given in terms of both the popular vote and seat count, did not grant them the right or luxury of ignoring the protest or cries of thousands of other Saint Lucians who had legitimate concerns about the implementation of a value-added tax (VAT).

 

While the LPM is equally convinced that the ousted United Workers Party (UWP) shares a similar character trait with SLP, in that it is often dismissive of political adversaries whenever they are in power, and would have implemented the VAT in the exact manner in which this present government has, does not mean that the LPM's clearly defined argument against the hasty implementation of the VAT is without merit.

Our earlier suggestion to the government of Saint Lucia to delay the implementation of the VAT to 1 January 2013, so as to fine tune and better define a tax system that is yet largely unknown to the general populace, and to refrain from putting its long-term political interest for re-election ahead of the economic interest of the people of Saint Lucia, was clearly not factored into the government's decision to hastily implement the VAT.

Our internal beliefs in the LPM as to why there was such haste to implement the VAT have not changed. We believed then, and continue to believe today, that the VAT was implemented in the first year of the SLP’s rule as a clearly defined political strategy, which banks on the notion that the people of Saint Lucia will forget all about the confusion and hardships of the VAT by the end of the SLP's current tenure in office.

To this end, the LPM, confident that it will become a major political force in the next elections, has put together a small committee of five persons who are charged with the responsibility of conducting opposition research on behalf of our movement.

Our opposition research committee will catalogue all of the arguments for and against the hasty implementation of the VAT, and will ensure that its presentation to the people of Saint Lucia debunks the SLP's belief that the masses of the people will forget all about their personal miseries and the general hardship that the VAT has imposed on their livelihood once the intoxicating fanfare of the next elections arrives.

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