Editorial: More power to the people

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The sound of cash registers opening and closing as they rang up sales this past weekend was heartening. Ca-ching! Ca-ching! From all reports reaching our newsroom, local stores did brisk business during the first of two Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) reduction days. The next reduction will begin this upcoming Friday 21st right through to Sunday 23rd.
Naturally, consumers were equally thrilled at this ABST reduction initiative, especially those who’d postponed many big-ticket purchases, such as furniture, refrigerators and other appliances and motor vehicles, for just such a weekend. Long lines were everywhere, and the broad smiles on the faces of shoppers as they exited our many business establishments laden with packages, indicated that they were pleased as punch with their savings. And the savings were considerable. For example, a customer looking to purchase a washing machine costing $5,999.00 would see an ABST reduction of $599.90. Then more likely than not, he or she would see an additional 10% to 20% reduction that many businesses were offering to lure customers to their doors.
Clearly, this weekend was an all-round success – stores moving inventory, and shoppers able to afford more. We suggest that the ABST reduction days be a part of our economic life, not only at Christmas, but at Easter and, perhaps again at Carnival. We think that it would be a boon to the economy, but we are no experts. That’s why we are calling on those economists and financial gurus who have access to the data to crunch the numbers and release a report on the benefits that redound to the economy.
Of course, in keeping with our thinking that the benefits are considerable, we salute the United Progressive Party Administration for its foresight in instituting this worthy effort to increase the purchasing power of the people. It was a progressive move, and it was in keeping with that administration’s concern for the poor and the less fortunate. We also wish to salute the Gaston Browne administration for continuing it. You see, we are of the opinion that the more money left in the people’s pockets, the better. As it stands, the ‘gobblement’ is taking too much from our wallets and pocket books. Indeed, much like a voracious pac-man, governments are devising more and more ways to eat our earnings and pick our pockets. Almost every time that there is a new session of parliament, there is some new revenue/tax/fee measure on the backs of the poor – the struggling working stiffs trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents and living lives of quiet desperation. It is unconscionable! Many argue that it is a deliberate strategy by perfidious governments to keep the masses of the people poor and in a state of perpetual dependence. In that sad, sick way, the power will really always be in the hands of the ‘Santa Claus’ that can strategically dish out a fistful of dollars here and there.
Of course, we believe that there is a special place in Dante’s INFERNO for governments, or as Tim Hector was fond of calling them ‘grabberments’ (We like to say, ‘gobblements’), that take and take and take, without giving back to the people. Not fair! And what is especially foul is that notwithstanding the fact that they gobble up so much of our paychecks, we are not seeing the benefit in terms of decent roads, functioning lighting, reliable water and the other infrastructural basics here in our fair state. Nay, what we are seeing from some governments are junkets and joyrides “hither, thither and yon,” and obscene wastage. No fair!
It was a high degree of frustration at the unfairness of it all, and the aforementioned ‘desperation,’ that forced the suffering people of Haiti to fight the power and take it into their own hands after the government raised the price of fuel earlier this year. It was also this type of desperation that forced the people of France, the so-called ‘Yellow vests,’ to converge on the Champs-Elysees and the Arc De Triomphe to riot and voice their utter disgust at price hikes and taxes. To his credit, the French president, Emanuel Macron, heard the voices of protest, and he has promised to roll back the hikes and remove some of the onerous taxes.
Would that governments all over the world take a leaf from Macron and respond to the people in like manner. Again, we say, the less money for the government, the better! They waste it anyway! The more money in the peoples’ pockets, the better! The well-known saying says that “Money is power!” and we are suggesting that the initiatives such as the ABST reduction weekends be extended and further implemented to put power back into the hands of the people. More power to the people!

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