And the cynically inclined among those observers might also conclude that the generosity is in some way linked to the elections which are now almost upon us.
In reality, it would be less than fair to accuse politicians of either blatant populism or frantic electioneering. By ensuring that low and middle earners will receive more benefits or pay less tax to compensate for the joint impact of the goods and services tax and escalating food prices, Members have been reacting logically to global changes beyond the Island’s control.
The same can be said of another decision reached this week which increases the winter fuel allowance for the less well off by 20 per cent.
However, although the States have acted properly and promptly in the face of rising commodity prices, the situation is not entirely clear-cut. Senator Ben Shenton has pledged to bring the issue of GST on essential foodstuffs back to the House when it is reconstituted after the elections – a move which will muddy waters that, at present, are reasonably clear.
Yesterday the vast majority of Members agreed that adjusting benefits and tax thresholds was the way forward. That vote followed an earlier one in which there was a tie between those who favoured removing GST from food and those who were against. Now that there seems to be such general agreement that the GST burden problem has been solved by other means, would it really be wise to revisit the matter in just a few weeks?
There is, moreover, at least one reason why the benefits and taxation answer is fundamentally preferable to removing GST from food. It can be argued that the former targets help more precisely than the latter. After all, abolishing tax on foodstuffs would have been of benefit to those have no need of help as well as the needy.
As is so often the case in political and economic life, the present difficulties occasioned by global forces, domestic policies and issues of fairness have no perfect solution. In spite of this, Members have paved the way for structures which, when they are implemented, will make life easier for those hardest hit by current circumstances