Where is our money? You know, the stuff we pay our taxes with, for the government to spend on our behalf?
Did it all get blown out of the banks in the hurricanes? We really would like to know because, apart from presumably keeping our fat cat civil service in groceries, precious little seems to be being spent on repairing our infrastructure. The United Kingdom government wisely wants government-free accountability before it will guarantee backing any loans we can obtain.
Last week the Beacon mentioned the scrubber for the incinerator, which has been seven years in the coming and still isn’t here. This is a pre-Irma problem — but then, so many of our problems are. The scrubber wasn’t the only problem with the then-new incinerator. The powers that be thought they could do without a scrubber, then forgot to allow financing for someone to go to the factory to test the thing or find out the cost of shipping it, and at the same time built a building that it couldn’t fit into. If the scrubber hasn’t been paid for yet, it definitely won’t get funded now. Good luck, West End and St. John.
Our personal town water supply got completely destroyed in the hurricane. Pipe, shutoff valve, pressure reducer (yes!), meter — everything was blown away. But the Water and Sewerage Department continues to bill us for meter rental, saying we had not applied to have the meter removed! Asked about reconnection, I was told, “We have no meters; we have no meters on order; we have no funds to order any meters; we do not know when we shall be getting any meters.” Why not?
Meanwhile, after nine months very little has been done to our schools, the Central Administration Building, the West End ferry dock, the customs and immigration building, or police stations. The police commissioner now tells us there are no funds to pay to rent at the offices in Rite Way. What a disgraceful situation!
‘Babes in the wood’
I really do believe our legislators are “babes in the wood” who have no clue about running the territory. They manage a bunch of equally clueless public officers and department heads who don’t know the first thing about running their departments even under normal circumstances, let alone emergencies. They in turn have to rely on contractors who are not experts in much, working to outdated building codes or ignoring their advice.
Where is our money? Who ultimately controls rationing it out?
The opposition leader said he was going to call the Public Accounts Committee last Monday to call for openness and accountability. Good luck with that!
A lot of online commenters are worried about allowing Chinese to enter the territory without a visa. They misinterpret. A visa only allows one in to visit. It does not grant indefinite stay, access to National Health Insurance, a work permit, a trade licence, a non-belongers land holding licence (don’t you love that phrase?), residence status or belongership. It doesn’t even allow one to open a bank account (account, not bank). It is not the beginning of an invasion, though in my opinion 3,000 Chinese permit-free workers would have had us back to normal by now, instead of the sorry state we are still in.
Lastly, financial services. There seems to be general panic that we will lose the whole 60 percent that the services contribute to our income when beneficial ownership rules come into play. Talking to people, and from what little I know (with a daughter in the business), Harneys seems to think it will be 60 percent of the 60 percent, the opposition leader reckons 40 percent of the 60 percent, and I think some 20 percent of the 60 percent, based on the fact that much of the financial business is not illegal, if not morally right, and that those people won’t mind their names being made public.
It will worry the oligarchs, pop stars and sportspeople, probably some Asians, and of course money launderers and tax evaders, who worry that the tabloids or tax authorities will troll the ownership lists looking for a scandalous story.
So while there will be some drop in income, nobody really knows. Of course, there is nothing to stop government imposing a fee of, say, $3,000 to scan the records. That should discourage some voyeurs.
Where is our money?