Michel's blog has photos of the protest march on St Helena yesterday (16th April). It has been triggered by the imposition of a new 20% tariff on all imports. This is on top of already very high freight charges, increases in electricity and water charges, and a new regressive tax system.
The St Helena Independent is always a useful source of information on such matters, and the editorial by Mike Olson, published the day before the protest march, did not disappoint:
The demonstration tomorrow will be interesting. During my 15 years on the Island, I have never before seen so many angry people. People from all walks of life are strongly reacting against the imposed ‘tax reforms’ electricity and water increases and increases in anything else the Government can come up with to take your money.
St Helena has got three full-time farmers, about eight full time fishing boats and 10 Directors in Government. Who will pay for all the new Directors? It is absolutely ridiculous that we have 100’s of people counting and writing reports about what a handful people are doing.
.. is it really fair that people on lower incomes should pay for a few high paid bureaucrats through huge increases in duty on your children’s baby milk and nappies. The unfortunate fact is that we have dozens of people from overseas making tax benefits of between £50,000 and £100,000 per year together and they never actually use their own money. They pay their living from the generous tax-free allowances. Their handsome tax-cuts YOU have to pay for. The system is despicable and is not fit for any place in the world with any social ambitions. taking the people into account.
The full editorial is well worth reading by anyone who cares about the island and its people.
A couple of letters published in the same edition of The Independent cannot help but make you wonder just what is going on.
Who Is Getting All The Subsidies?
Last week a letter was published from Cllr Buckley setting out grant expenditure for 2010/11. In order to prevent further speculation, we the undersigned wish to make it clear that none of the £6,000 apparently granted for coffee production was granted to us.
Mr Bill Bolton
Mr Stephen Biggs
Mr Brian Beard
With regards to the letter from Councillor Rodney Buckley on the amount of money that was ploughed into the farming industry in the past financial year- £204,682 to be exact! Well as one of the farmers on the Island I got nothing from this money!
But I am wondering who did?
Farmer – Western side!
Reading information like this it is difficult to feel much optimism about the future of the island, and it certainly does not inspire much confidence in the ability of the St Helena Government to manage the massive airport project.