MPs depend on your taxes for their salaries and perks!

You have to hand it to Kenny Anthony for the way he maneuvered the Value Added Tax controversy upon replacing Stephenson King as prime minister. At the very first opportunity following his return to office, via the conceivably apolitical lips of the governor general, he reminded interested Saint Lucians about the whispered two or three lines in his party’s election manifesto that had predicted the coming of VAT—regardless of which party formed the next government.
No surprise that the prime minister saw no urgent need at the time also to remind his audience of his earlier assessment of the now “inevitable” new tax-collection system, when it was “oppressive, anti-poor and anti-worker.”
Alas, there was no escaping reality. Pointless saying, as in other potentially embarrassing situations, that he had been misquoted, misconstrued or misrepresented by noisome banshees without university degrees. The recorded inconvenient truth was too easily accessible. What to do? The prime minister put his faith in John 8:32 and decided to come clean.
He concurred with detractors who had accused him of conveniently flip-flopping on the issue of VAT. To be absolutely fair, he didn’t quite admit he was a flip-flopper. Nevertheless he acknowledged his earlier description of VAT, repeated his prediction that it would be particularly tough on the poor and all that, but what the hell, a man had to do what a man had to do, body count be damned. (When will we acknowledge the irreducible truth that the vast majority of Saint Lucians are by universal standards poor, including our presumed wealthy?)
Besides, the previous government had promised both its invisible manipulators—WTO, the IMF etc—and the barely listening Saint Lucian population that VAT would be implemented no later than April of 2012. Which, by the new prime minister’s measure, made the arrival of VAT inevitable, if not altogether unpostponable. So, having determined his government would start operating the new system from September 2012, the compassionate prime minister later postponed the inevitable by another four weeks.
Predictably, those who should’ve been most concerned about the nitty-gritty miseries of VAT, the leaders of the private sector, the nation’s so-called “captains of commerce,” were far too busy fending off the fallout from the ever-deepening recession. At least one of them actually expressed (privately, of course!) the wishful thought that the prime minister would have no other choice but to postpone VAT a second time, “otherwise, all fall down.”
There were seminars promoted for profit by one or two institutions, including the Chamber of Commerce, with the audience shelling out five or six hundred dollars a head, doubtless in the ultimately vain hope of learning that VAT would not impact their already comatose businesses.
When one group petitioned a particular MP to pass on its concerns to the our nation’s suddenly peripatetic prime minister, they were told: “Frankly, he has decided that come hell or high water 1 October 2012 will be the implementation date.”
The minister also pathetically suggested that whatever kinks might still be hiding in the system will be dealt with by the finance minister as they came up.
The petitioners were fantasizing. Obviously they did not fully appreciate the government’s rock-and-a-harder-place location between the IMF and recession realities. But there is also this, not often talked about: the matter of paying the government’s monstrous bills—in particular, monthly salaries for high-living MPs on both sides of the House.
Yes, folks, there is also a personal angle to the determined implementation of VAT, regardless of all cost. True, the government desperately needs money to operate the country’s business. But the MPs’ far more urgent need is to pay their own private commitments: they need to pay their monthly mortgages, placate their hack blood-suckers, take care of matters on the home and jabal fronts and elsewhere. If there’s no money to pay public servants, chances are there won’t be money to pay the MPs.
The situation suggests why Kenny Anthony introduced the idea in his first term—naturally monkeyed by King & Company—of paying incentives to customs officials who are expected to squeeze pre-determined amounts from broke private businesses behind with their tax payments.
If only the private sector could emulate the government’s debt-collection methods. Several local business houses have shut down because their once trusted patrons, who now owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars, simply refuse to—or cannot—pay.
Pointless taking them to court. By the time a complainant’s case reaches a magistrate, only to be adjourned again and again, chances are he’ll be bankrupt or in the maw of one of our bloodthirsty banks or a casualty of handpicked collection agents employed by our government of the people, by the people, for the people!
I suspect it won’t be long before private-sector debt collectors will be hired to do as does the government, with special rewards for the particularly aggressive. Dear faint-hearted reader, spare yourself the trouble of imagining the unimaginably horrible consequences when the survival of desperate and scary debt collectors and their hungry-bellied kids depends on how much they collect for their employers!

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