Mixed messages

Mixed messages

The drafting of an initiative law by United People’s (UP) Party faction leader in Parliament Rolando Brison to allow for adjusting the turnover tax TOT to provide relief on current fuel prices (see related story), while no doubt well-intended, raises some questions. The most obvious one is that his own party’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Roger Lawrence earlier announced working on reducing the excise duty on fuel.

Brison supports these efforts but said they don’t solve the “untenable situation” of TOT being levied twice on fuel at both the wholesale and retail level. Its cumulative effect in general has been a widespread complaint against this tax from the beginning.

Brison’s intention is to amend the Turnover Tax Ordinance so the Council of Ministers can make an adjustment by National Decree Containing General Measures, instead of having to seek Parliament’s approval. The latter might spark some concern especially in the opposition benches, because once that happens the TOT could – for whatever reason – suddenly increase if government needs finances, without consulting the people’s elected representatives.

His point about double taxation is well-taken, as is the argument that if people pay less to fill their vehicle’s tank the money will likely be spent for other things on which TOT and possibly other taxes are also earned. Keeping the fuel cost down can help businesses stay competitive and mitigate spiralling inflation.

However, normally one would expect two different proposals addressing the same problem especially from within the same party to be discussed internally first and then with coalition partners – in this case the National Alliance (NA), rather than presenting them separately at the executive and legislative levels. That could in turn lead to more coordinated action by the Council of Ministers and Parliament showing unity in purpose and generating public trust regarding a pressing issue, rather than sending mixed messages.

The Daily Herald

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