VAT must be addressed to allow clear election

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Open letter to the Chief Minister

I WRITE with reference to the uncertainty regarding possible further changes to our VAT agreement with the United Kingdom.

Rumours are now circulating widely amongst the island community that the proposed next round of VAT cuts could be in the region of £80-100 million.

If this is true, then every man, woman and child in the island will be severely affected by a further reduction in government funds equating to around 20 per cent of our annual income.

I feel therefore that it is essential you make a statement to Tynwald in July, and to the Manx people, answering the following points:

1) The amount of VAT reduction demanded by the UK Government and the likely timeframe for this to take effect.

2) Steps already taken by your administration to fight this reduction and what future actions are planned

3) If the reduction is in the area of the figure quoted above, what are your contingency plans and who do you intend to involve? It has to be borne in mind that a further decrease of this magnitude is similar to the entire budget spend on education, or approximately half of what is currently devoted to health and social care.

4) Has an assessment been carried out to establish whether our island would be better off collecting its own VAT, if such a scenario should come to pass, or whether the benefits of retaining our current status would still outweigh the advantages of going it alone?

I am contesting the constituency of Middle in September’s General Election and feel it is imperative that all candidates know what we are facing in the future so we can have a meaningful discussion about the way forward.

I would also be interested to hear the reasons why you, as Chief Minister, have not eased in cuts to our budget over the past five years when you must have suspected what was round the corner.

The most needy and vulnerable of our society will undoubtedly be the hardest hit when massive belt-tightening measures have to be introduced after the general election.

The next five years for the Isle of Man will be incredibly hard for any elected MHKs and fairness would dictate that all candidates are fully briefed. This would enable them to formulate their own ideas and have a discussion on the doorsteps with the people of the island during their canvassing.

I do not wish to appear to be scaremongering but in view of recent statements both in and out of the island, it is time for you to make a full statement on the issues and implications.

HOWARD QUAYLE,

Candidate for Middle,

Ballavitchel, Crosby

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