Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Gordon Robinson | A Wesen Government?

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Playing Gene Autry's Rules (double-six poses Game One; afterwards the holder of double-six poses), you hold (Hand A):

Double-six; six-four; six-deuce; six-ace; double-blank; five-trey; five-four. The score is 5-all. What's your pose?

Alternatively, you draw Hand B (same score):

Double-six; six-blank; double-blank; five-four; four-trey; trey-ace; deuce-blank. Is your pose different? Answers at the end (no peeking).

The first domino played sets the tone for the game, as does the first move in anything, so I listened keenly to Government's first Budget trying to discern a tone. As I suspected, the tone was "no change". The IMF gave its new puppet's $13.7-billion tax package a ringing endorsement for moving from direct to indirect taxation.

LOL! Since 1980, which Budget increased direct taxation? Answer: This 2016-17 Budget that increased the income tax rate for persons earning more than $6 million. My suspicion is that the IMF's endorsement has more to do with Government's capitulation to IMF demand to break the '1.5' promise to satisfy "fiscal responsibility" requirements than any phantom shift towards indirect taxation.

Argument whether or not Government's method of retrieving with the left hand gifts given with the right is responsible misses the point. The point is, this Budget represents an egregious breach of trust; a rapacious raid of taxpayers' pockets disguised as "tax relief"; and forfeiture of moral authority to govern. On May 24, PM, during a generally excellent Budget presentation, couldn't resist rushing in where angels eat beans (Google won't help you; ask Gene Autry) to defend '1.5': "We have given choices to the Jamaican people!"

The problem with this sound bite is that it's an illusion. The petrol tax alone ensures, unless households cut expenditure, "choices" money is "disappeared" by increased transportation and food costs. Taxpayers may make choices but (poof!) the 'extra money' is already missing in action, presumed dead.

While campaigning, the JLP repeatedly promised:

- no income taxes for persons earning $1.5m or less as of April 1;

- $592,000 threshold for taxpayers between $1.5 million and $5 million remains; and

- Those earning more than $5 million wouldn't have a threshold.




February 11: (Spanish Court press conference) Andrew Holness: "We're serious about it ... . We're not just saying it as an election gimmick." He assured voters there'd be no need for new taxes to pay for '1.5'; it was "revenue neutral"; and would act as an economic stimulus.

February 18: (Coronation Market) JLP manifesto 'launch'. Young Andrew was even more confident.

"Government has overtaxed you, and the Budget wouldn't suffer if we gave you back some of that tax. In fact, the Budget would improve ... ."

February 23: (Half-Way Tree mass political rally) Young Andrew, rebutting Joe Matalon's reservations about the plan, called it "basic economics".

"Our plan is based on one simple principle: You know how to spend your money better than Peter Phillips."

Insisting the plan was thoroughly researched, Young Andrew stressed it wouldn't be inflationary because there was productive capacity in Jamaica to respond to increased demand.

"In fact, there'll be a positive impact for your household and our economy. We're going to give back to the working people of Jamaica who have been made the working poor by the PNP."

The JLP never ONCE hinted a new tax package would be required to pay for '1.5'. To an excited Half-Way Tree throng, Young Andrew delivered the clincher: "We'll give you back the gas price savings ... taken away from you by Peter Phillips' tax scheme. The additional spending that you'll do will result in more taxes to be collected in GCT ... ."

Instead, at IMF's behest, as soon as people's votes were secured:

1. '1.5' as of April 1 'woged' (Google it; pronounced 'vogued') into '1.0' as of July 1;

2. Promised return of "gas price savings ... taken away from you by the Peter Phillips tax scheme" woged into an additional $7-per-litre gas tax;

3. Economic growth from extra spending, without needing new taxes, woged into $13.7-billion new taxes.

JLP has now exposed itself as having been desperate to take 'power' by any means necessary. It made promises it KNOWS won the election, then reneged on them without apology or remorse.

How can we trust this seemingly Wesen (pronounced 'Vessen'; go ahead, Google!) Government?

Peace and love.

Domino quiz answers:

Hand A: Perfect time for a 'psyche'! Pose double-blank. Hope all believe you have double-six alone but plenty blanks. Blank-six, especially from LHO, means game over. You can meet almost anything coming off blank, encourage six from others, without having to push six.

Hand B: A standard double-six pose.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.