Chris Ram, last year November:
Last week’s column addressed President Jagdeo’s astonishing, unfounded and uninformed statement that VAT was no burden and therefore in no need of revision. For a newspaper column, it provided an exhaustive and hopefully convincing case of President Jagdeo and Dr Ashni Singh’s broken promise to make VAT revenue-neutral. And so I did not think it was necessary or useful to return to this topic this week.
Let us not be naive. The President could not possibly admit that VAT is a burden. If he did, then being the considerate leader he claims to be, he would have had to do something about easing the burden on “his people” by reducing taxes, something he has never done across the board.
He has found it easier to grant vast sums in concessions to friends, without regard for the laws of the land, than to honour a commitment to the nation. To change the law to pay emoluments to the Chancellor, the Chief Justice and the Auditor General tax free, making some more equal than others. And yes too, to increasing presidential benefits with no limits and no taxation, defying Benjamin Franklin who wrote more than 200 years ago, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But to the poor, the only yes is to the insensitivity of their plight.