Himeyn-ingilaab calls our Maldivian business community a group of outmoded thieves - a group of people that have run business evading taxes - shameless thieves committing acts of piracy! I have great admiration for the work Himeyn did during the run up to the election. But this time I’m totally clueless as to the basis for all this ignominious name calling and recrimination.
Sometimes to prove a point we become unreasonable and resort to baseless attacks. We forget to take stock of the actual ground realities. Is there any government, anywhere in the world, that is able to stay away from the influence of the powerful oligarchs? The businesses in the industrialized countries pay taxes to their governments, not because they are any more God-fearing, or have higher moral standards than we Maldivians do. They pay taxes only because their countries have the appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks to compel them to do so. Even after having these systems in place for over a hundred years, most of them are always on the look out for any avenue that would give them legitimacy to pay even one less dollars in taxes. We in the
As for the extension of resort leases, I don’t see much of a problem with that. On the contrary, I think, this is a must if we are to remain competitive both as a lucrative investment destination and as an attractive tourist destination. Let’s face the facts – we have to understand that we are far from being an attractive investment destination even by developing country standards. The only thing we need to do, while we work on the extension of the resort leases is to make sure that when we give the resort owners a deal, we give them a deal that’s fair to even to the most destitute single mother living in the most dilapidated household in the most remote island in the Maldives (sorry, just borrowing a phrase from Himeyn). The fairness of this deal could be ensured by increasing the lease rentals or by implementing a bed tax, a GST on tourism sales or a corporate profit tax. I recently read an article somewhere that says that over 80 out of the 89 odd resorts currently in operation, still have USD4000 or less as annual lease rentals when the going market rate at the more recent rounds of bidding are over USD20,000 per bed per year. These are the things that we need to be working on instead of vilifying our business community and calling them a bunch of unprincipled pirates filching money out of our destitute people. After all it is only natural that any profit-maximizing business should try and lay hands to every extra dollar possible.