Stop with the smoke

Dear Editor,

I would appreciate it if you allow me a small space to comment.

For the last year, the government has been dangling the increase of the minimum wage like a bloody steak before caged dogs. Only the very naïve among us really believe that it took months to make a decision or that the Tripartite Council’s role was anything more than a rubber stamp.

Then, with the contrived gravitas of a national address, the announcement was made.

This announcement came only after the Davis-led PLP administration celebrated its first year in office.

A cynic might suppose that the timing was not coincidental. “Look! Look! Look what we’ve done for you. Now, tell us what a great government we are!”

A week earlier, the BPL bomb of a fuel charge increase was dropped on our heads, but let’s don’t talk about that.

It was also announced that another dray load of price controls would go into effect because, apparently, the government is concerned about the impact of the increasing inflation and the high cost of living in the country.

Don’t make me laugh! Every close eye ain’ sleep was a saying I grew up with; and with respect to the decisions to ease the burden on the poorest among us, one would have to be willfully blind to believe that either decision by the government really eases that burden.

Why do we all pretend that in a country that imports almost 100 percent of its consumer goods that any increase in minimum wage or implementation of price controls will truly ease the burden on the poorest among us?

The sole factor affecting the cost of living in this country is the exorbitant customs duties and imposition of “VAT on erryting!”

We are drowning in the morass of double taxation. From the day VAT was introduced and implemented, we have seen a steady and unflinching increase in the cost of living.

I even have to pay VAT on the medical insurance, which I would most likely die without, because the promise of National Health Insurance is really illusory and very hard to up-sell. But, I digress.

Why do we all pretend that the reason life is hard for many is all due to the “greedy businessmen” who, whether the national address intended it or not, have been juxtaposed as the reason for the suffering of so many?

“Dey ain’ wan’ pay nuttin to da workers dem and dey price gougin’ da buying public, but we guh solve da problem. Here ya go: minimum wage goin’ up and we imposin’ price controls!”

Let’s stop the pretense. The fact remains that the reason the cost of living is so high in this country is due to the taxes we pay, the implementation and maintenance of which are directly controlled by the government.

If the “gubmen dem” serious, the first place the hair shave and cut would happen is taxation. Stop with the smoke … and smoke.

Concerned Bahamian

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