It was once called the People’s Budget. Over the years it has become crystal clear that the government workers create problems and expect ordinary taxpayers to pay the cost of others’ mistakes.
Take the Airport Tax which the government has just introduced. The new tax is additional to airfares that you and I – the ordinary battlers who meet our own airfares – will have to pay in additional to the airfares for domestic and international travels on all Solomon Airlines routes.
Solomon Airlines confirmed yesterday it began collecting the new tax from last week.
Travelers could pay as much as $610 on a return ticket from Brisbane to Honiara. This is in addition to the airfares. The same tax applies to domestic travelers. They are required to pay $150 a single return ticket from Honiara to any destination around the country.
It is a huge amount of money – if you are meeting the cost yourself, particularly if you are traveling as a family. They add up.
The reason the government has given for this new tax is to help it set up a new State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) to be known as the Solomon Islands Airport Corporation Ltd (SIACL), making it the sixth SOE in the country.
It is rumoured that the move was a measure taken to avoid the repeat of alleged misuse of funds from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication, particularly the funds received from airlines overflying our airspace.
Substantial amounts of money were allegedly misused and could not be accounted for. The reasoning behind this is a bit muddled up in terms of the guarantee that such alleged wrongdoings would not repeat itself?
Tourism, the sector identified by the government as a potential money spinner for the nation could end up being a victim of this new set up unless tourists are exempt from the tax.
Figures show that in the nine months to September last year, some 18, 507 visitors came to our shores. The new tax slug could impact on visitor arrivals. They may opt to visit other destinations where such a silly tax does not apply.
Many in Solomon Islands have the perception that overseas tourists have a lot of money to spend.
They do have money to spend, but it took many of them months to save up for their travels. To add another SBD600-plus on top of the airfares is an additional burden they would be only too happy to avoid. In the end, who lose?
It is obvious some tourists have a lot of money to spend. But we must never forget that tourists count every single penny they spend or will spend. They carefully work out a budget, so they live within their means.
Is this new SIACL an attempt on the part of government to kill the goose that lays the golden egg?
But why should others, innocent as they are, be made to pay for our mistakes? And how long must we continue to do this, allowing the alleged wrongdoers to walk scot-free?
It is totally unfair, don’t you think?
In the case of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication, no one accused of allegedly misusing public funds have been thoroughly investigated. Why?
Why indeed are we encouraging this? People misused public funds must be made to account for their deeds – good or bad. We simply cannot continue to rely on others to keep paying for our mistakes.
The time of reckoning has come and is here. Appropriate actions must be taken or be seen to be taken by law enforcement agencies to help restore an image of decency and respectability to our shores.