NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
As the Isle of Man government ploughs on with its austerity policies involving increased stealth taxes and charges. The Celtic League asks who is feeling the pain?
At a time when 25% of households cannot make ends meet the League say to Chief Minister Allan Bell it is time to come clean on grants and loans given to agriculture and business in recent years as ordinary Islanders have been squeezed.
The League say that the argument such payments, grants and loans (which run into millions every year) are commercially confidential is just a means of concealing the truth from the public.
“The Chief Minister
Allan Bell MHK
Chief Minister Office
Isle of Man
2nd February 2015
Dear Chief Minister,
Re: Fiscal Transparency.
I have recently been looking at the data that the Economic Affairs Division publish on your governments website and I am struck by how most of the data set out is compiled in general terms.
Whilst they may provide a good general ‘snap-shot’ to the working and health of the economy it does nothing to convey specific data about how government income is being dispersed specifically into the private sector by way of loans or grants.
At a time when the governments own figures reveal that 25% of households do not have enough income to cover their cost of living I think it is past time that the disbursements which government make to support individual businesses in all sectors were placed publicly, and more accurately, on the public record.
Why should the owners of agricultural holdings who are given public support (under the euphemism ‘countryside care’) or the many and varied businesses on the Islands who regularly are in the queue for grants or loans not have this on the public record?
There is often talk about introducing ‘means-testing’ for public sector benefits (housing or otherwise); social housing is also invariably labelled ‘subsidised’. The tenants of public housing have no anonymity. Why therefore should those in agriculture and business who also enjoy ‘subsidy’ from the public purse get anonymity as if it were a right?
It is past time that the public had the right to know to whom their monies (in tax) are being dispersed via grant or subsidy?
Perhaps then we might learn that individuals and businesses which have very substantial ‘means’ are lining up for government ‘hand-outs’ whilst a substantial section of the population have to endure taxes and charges to fund this largesse.
I think you said some months ago that whilst the Islands government had managed the fiscal challenges imposed upon it well there might still be ‘pain’ in the year ahead.
It would be helpful I think if the population generally, particularly those being squeezed by taxation and charges, could get an accurate picture of just who is experiencing the ‘pain’.
At the moment (rightly or wrongly) the perception publicly is that ‘the man in the street’ is suffering disproportionately as the Island strives to balance its books.
Let us have some honesty and openness about who is receiving benefit from the public purse. Enough of this ‘commercial confidence’ nonsense! It is past time government opened its books.
‘Commercial confidentiality’ is just a way of hiding the truth from the public!
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Related article at the Celtic News archive here:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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