Saturday, December 15, 2007

More figures and opinions

Karin, an economist comme je les aime, sent me this response to my previous post of Muhammad Zbib's article in Al Akhbar:

"Lebanon has an extraordinarily regressive tax system, while progressive (i.e. redistributive) taxes on the highest income and profit brackets were reduced from 32% and 50% respectively, to 10%, and corporate tax became a flat 10%, regressive, indirect taxes on consumption goods, especially gasoline, are increasing: a 'gradual' increase of VAT from 10 % to 12% by 2008, then to 15 % in 2010 is planned. This penalises particularly poor people who spend a higher proportion of their income on consumption goods (food, clothing, transport) than rich people who own/invest in shares/bonds/real estate and collect rents on these, which are liable to much lower taxes. Infuriatingly, these taxes buy the Lebanese very little, no roads, health care only for a lucky few, no good schools, no reliable electricity grid....

Indeed, cynics might say Lebanon is a glorious exploitation machine: consider the country as a company, it made a profit (also called budget surplus) last year, most of which was used to pay interest on the atrocious debt, most of which is not held by a bunch of greedy foreign financiers but honourable, rich Lebanese who make a healthy profit off the sweat of a few."

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