Tax crunch time
A POWERFUL, significant number of MPs and Ministers have spoken to Prime Minister Charlot Salwai about freezing plans for any income tax for the conceivable future.
Some MPs have told The Independent that they think the contentious issue should be held over until the 2020 national elections and this reporter was asked not to write anything until their rural voters were given significant briefings so they could then form some proper opinions for themselves.
But they have now told me that they cannot see that happening at all and that it is just ‘lip service’.
“This is not democracy at work at all, most of my people have no idea what income tax means at all and reaching them to explain it properly will take months if not years,’’ said a Tanna MP, who did not want to be named as he is government MP.
“We are being pushed into this by outside forces but if we were able to get our own financial house in order and collect what is due to us now and continue to do so, there would be no need of any more talk of income tax
“So now I think I we should be right to use the truth – no one else is or has been is prepared to use it,” they said.
“The general consensus from both sides of the house is that the Salwai Government is functioning admirably – except for the issue of income tax which appears to be largely driven by Mr Salwai for reasons that are not entirely clear..’’ said an Opposition MP.
“It’s time we took a hard stand – why should the Port Vila Council and Niscol carry on about all these grand plans when they owe this government more than VT 100 million,’’ he said.
Another MP said maybe it was time to sell Niscol and ‘cut our losses’.
“All it really is a place for political parties and MPs to top up their cash ow when they need to, especially at election time,” he said.
Some Port Vila MPs said maybe it was time to bring in an outside administrator to run the council.
“We have tried it before and it has not worked but it is presently such a shambles with such a large debt hanging over its head, something drastic needs to be done to turn it around,” said one.
“For example what exactly do the Municipal Police do – you see them once or twice a month. Surely one police force is enough.
“We don’t seem to operate what tax set ups we have now, how could we possibly manage something much more complex as income tax?”