COMMENTARY: Bureaucratic elites have blown it!

COMMENTARY: Bureaucratic elites have blown it!
Melanius Alphonse
Melanius Alphonse

Were they alive in Saint Lucia today, both Confucius and John Maynard Keynes would have extreme difficulty understanding our parliamentary representatives and the external powers they serve.

What mindset could determine in a nearly dead economy to raise taxes by 15%,through the implementation of VAT, property taxes, service taxes, and input taxes on raw materials, just because government needs more money to pay for debts recklessly incurred?

Not even Keynes would’ve supported the view that high taxes would cure Saint Lucia’s deficit. More likely he would rather have settled for a reduction of taxes with lower interest rates. This would encourage businesses to seek investment options for growth, create jobs and leave employees with more disposable income for discretionary spending.

Therefore, it is illogical for government to expect their policy of high taxes that is primarily repressive and designed to take advantage of the poor and the middle class will significantly improve state revenue in the worst of economic times.

This physiology is restrictive to human decision-making and freedom over the lives of our children and the country at large.  This also has implications for human progress, with the capacity to further suppress the economy and the individual choices of people as they go about their daily lives.

Even Confucius would’ve supported smaller government, limited taxation, lower interest rates and humane authority in a society aimed at promoting balanced growth and exemplary leadership. But in an attempt to showcase dominance and the haste to raise punitive taxes, the government report on the first month of VAT reads as follows:

“The Inland Revenue Department collected a total of EC$10.06 million. In turn, the Customs Department collected EC$15.08 million. The total amount collected is, therefore, $25.14 million. It should be noted that the amount collected in VAT by the Customs and Excise Department is gross, meaning that a significant amount has to be refunded based on the refund mechanism of the VAT system.The amount to be refunded is being calculated and has not yet been determined at this time.”

This seems to mean that the state can with impunity extract revenue from the tax base and decide at its own pleasure what amount to return, after it has satisfied the wishes of the political autocrats that govern the country.

By the look of things as presented by the government report, the VAT may have rounded up more taxpayers but still could not surpass in substantial amounts the cumulative taxes recorded prior to its implementation.

This grim disclosure is the first sign that the taxman will be more aggressive and seek to demand for our wallets—to take what they consider their share and how much we are permitted to keep for ourselves. There will be no exceptions, for robbery knows no exceptions, only where there’s money!

Meanwhile the government remains indifferent to the unavoidable fact that Europe and the rest of the world no longer believe in Socialism. Worse, their dictatorial obsession with the dead system is positioning Saint Lucia further away from growth. How shortsighted can you get!

Further, in troubling times like these, one would expect that the parliamentary representatives would represent the views and interest of their constituencies and the people of Saint Lucia, and cast their votes in parliament based on conscience and according to key legislation.

But that is not the case. They continue to ignore and avoid the people who elected them in favour of strict adherence to strict party lines. Meanwhile, society grows ever more frustrated.

With all the signs of political and economic distress at unprecedented levels, the poor and the middle class may soon have little choice but to take back their democracy—by whatever means—from the liberal autocratic elites!

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached [email protected]


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  1. The P.M of St. Lucia is absolutely CLUELESS. He used his 'inherited traits' - especially that of manipulation and deceit, to once again con his way into office. Here you have a man, who promised that he would have injected "$100M into the economy within his first 90 days of assuming office" ...Here you have a man in 2009, who encouraged civil servants to strike if they did not receive their "14.5% increase" and this same man today asserts that the reason that the country is in such economic turmoil is because of the "ill-advised 14.5% given to civil servants by the UWP"...SICK.

    St. Lucians need to wake up and realize what is happening around them. This island is becoming like Trinidad during the early to mid 90's, when there was an erosion of the middle class. Right now in SL there are just 2 classes of people - the upper and lower class and the P.M and his cohorts, well guess where they are? It is an utter shame that an island blessed with such pristine and natural beauty cannot attract more foreign investors. It is an utter shame that an island where it's students are the highest per capita at UWI and other regional institutions, cannot put mechanisms in place to tap into that rich reservoir. All the educated St. Lucians are fleeing for "better days' in America, Canada, UK, etc, that is a shame on the leadership of this island.

    Spending all the island's meager resources on inquiry after inquiry to promulgate vitriol and tap into the ignorance of the people...WE as St. Lucians need leaders who are selfless, dedicated and true to the cause; NONE of whom are occupying office right now. Just take a look for example (names refrained), as soon as SLP got into office what did they do? Ambassador here and ambassador there - qualified or not. They then turn around and accuse the UWP of hiring consultants left and right - that most likely is true, however, what's the difference?

    There are people hired by the St. Lucian Gov't working as tourism officials in Florida, NY and Georgia living large on the backs of the St. Lucian people - trust me, I meet some of them daily. Tell me how could that be right St. Lucia? House paid for by the SL gov't, vehicle paid for by the SL gov't, etc , etc, etc. How could that be right in a period where a responsible gov't should implement expedient austerity measures to reduce the cost of living for native St. Lucians?



  2. Dude shut up. Wen y'all lil boys go 2 a university or sum y'all always believe y'all r experts on very frigging thing. Keynes?? Confuseus?? Wtf. Melanius Alphonse u wud b better Advised 2 open a business and employ sum st. Lucians or show us your track record. Stop writing dem long boring statements that serves the country no good. Seriously u believe any one really taking u seriously.?? U and ferrol compound sorry Prudent hve a 'diaspora' party how u all expect anybody 2 take u all seriously. Choooops.


  3. Y'all cry about vat but y'all can afford carnival costumes...and when y'all say the loaf is too expensive y'all are caught buying booze by the boxes...the government sees vat as a tax to help the country y'all see it as a tax to mess up y'all pockets on the high life and I see it teach y'all that your spending habits need to be rearranged since y'all refused to change it...


  4. Kenny should have put the VAT @ 80% for the Labour supporters because I can see they are all Rich.


  5. Saint Lucia was the last in CARICOM to implement the VAT. How the hell do you run a country without taxation anyways? Is LPM the Tea party of Saint Lucia?


  6. Intresting commentary as usual. Unfortunately many cant appreciate. Vat is a tax increase as one just realize that 15% on cost is not the same as 15% after ptofit. As a result the cost of the 15% is greater. If we are to be honest, this present government is clueless, arrogant, uncaring,
    Hypocritical, big, expensive, divisive, greedy, selfish and are leading us down an extremely slippery, steep and deadly slope. We continuevto argue and believe that because these guys have sold thejselves as educated that they can actually do what it takes. The reality is that going to school and getting a degree does not make you comoetent to lead nor honest. So please lets not kid ourselves the cabal running the country is just that a pack of greedy hungry wild dogs


  7. Confucius is interesting, but in the case of the Caribbean, a better guide might be Lao Tzu, who said, “As restrictions and prohibitions are multiplied in the Empire, the people grow poorer and poorer. When the people are subjected to overmuch government, the land is thrown into confusion.”

    A more contemporary example from Chinese civilisation might be Hong Kong, which reached an unparalleled pace of economic and social development through Lao Tzu’s principle that the less government does, the better off its people will end up.


  8. As usual weth Mr. Alphonse, facts can be cited, but truth ignored. He starts by calling VAT a tax increase, while ignoring the fact that it replaces other taxes, some of them higher. He then goes on to say, and I quote: "By the look of things as presented by the government report, the VAT may have rounded up more taxpayers but still could not surpass in substantial amounts the cumulative taxes recorded prior to its implementation." By my math, if it collected less than the previous tax structure, it is not a tax increase.


  9. To suggest that John Maynard Kenes would not have supported the view that high taxes would cure Saint Lucia deficit is to demonstrate either a dangerous ignorance of the facts or an equally dangerous willingness to twist them to fit your narrow patrisan aims.
    Keynes was of the view that government should stimulate the economy during burst time and implement austerity measures during boom time. Mind you, the United States enjoyed strong growth in the 1950s when they were a more egalitarian country ( Socialist-Like), even though the top income tax rate in that decade was always more than 90 percent. Business during that time experienced high taxes yet there was an economic boom. Contrary to what you think, VAT is not the problem. The fundamental question is will the current administration use the revenue to implement universal health care, better schools, improved infrastructure, etc.
    Parhaps this may never get done because we do not hold our elected officials accountable. We are blinded by our political affiliations. The liberal elites as you called them will always hold the rest of us hostage as long as we do not forcefully demand accountability, transparency and a commitment to genuine growth and development.


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