On Your Conscience

When Bob Marley said that guiltiness pressed on their conscience he did not know that some people had undergone an operation to remove theirs. He did say though that if you get down and quarrel every day you are saying prayers to the devil.

Hence the quarrelsome justification put out by persons unknown on the 66 2/3% increase in the Petrol Tax and supported publicly by the Grenadian leadership clearly demonstrates the heartlessness of our controllers at this point. To add acid to our wounds our controllers have put forward a mundane argument that in the event that the Petrol Tax didn’t get it the Property Tax was going to get it. Not only is this argument intellectually retarded and dishonest it is downright unconscionable.

At any level of academic study the exponents have an obligation to compare like with like. When two elements are obviously dissimilar, any attempt at a comparison is waste of resources usually resulting in a sham. Why waste time to compare a whale with an old oak tree.

To begin, a tax on property will only affect those who own property and are subjected to that tax. On the other hand a tax on petrol goes to heart of all energy consumption in the country and affects everyone including the unborn.

All over the world people are celebrating the collapse of oil prices on the international market and the fall in prices at the pump. In the United Kingdom people are looking forward to a sustained price of less than one pound per liter at the pumps for the first time in several years. Supermarkets like ASDA, Tesco, Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s quickly passed on the reduced prices to their customers at their fuel stations.

There are several reasons why it is technically unsound to increase the petrol tax at this point and they all point to a reversal of any gains possible from the abatement of the world recessionary squeeze.

The multiplier effect of the increase is immeasurable. Take a staple item like bread for example. The baker now faces an attack on his costs from several angles. His cost of power, gas or electrical, to bake the bread, his cost of elements of inputs, like flour and others into the bread, his transportation cost to deliver to the retailer, the retailer’s holding costs, the sandwich maker’s costs and the caterer’s costs all ultimately finding their way as an increase in price or a smaller bread to final consumer.

The tax is hyper inflationary. Prices everywhere will rise as producers, wholesalers and retailers adjust their mark-ups in line with the change in input costs. Combined with other upward pressures on costs including wages and salaries it would be difficult to measure the full inflationary impact of this tax.

During this period, as the economy struggles to grow by small incremental percentages, between, 1%, 1.25%, 1.5%, 1.75% and 2%, this act in itself can singlehandedly wipe out all prospects of a rise in production and economic growth. In the past few months Grenada has relied on the fall in world oil prices to produce economic growth. The downward pressure on growth would only serve to further frustrate an already desperate set of circumstances.

The international downward pressure is set to continue as production of oil and gas increases both on the OPEC and non-OPEC states and consumption falls with the increased use of alternative energy. Recently several new regions have announced huge finds of oil and gas reserves threatening to shift the balance of forces in the world and to rewrite the history of the oil superpowers, monopolies and oligopolies.

Against this background the policy being followed by our leadership is even more frightening. They are prepared to live off the oil’s tax revenue instead of implementing more alternative energy systems. At the same time we have bluntly refused to pursue rumors of our own reserves of hydrocarbons within our waters which can overnight eliminate the need for this vicious and evil tax on the backs of our people.

Not only are we swimming against the tide of the world we are prepared to lead our people down that malicious road to oblivion.

If only words in service could build a country.

Garvey Louison

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