Wednesday 7 November 2012

Mascot Watch 22: Hands Off Our Taxes, WHO

It may have escaped your attention - because that's precisely what it's designed to do - that the World Health Organisation is convening in Seoul on Monday at the start of a six day conference.

Despite never having received a single vote from anyone, anywhere, one of the items on the agenda is to massively ramp up tobacco taxes. Not just in a few countries, but in all of them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a global excise tax of up to 70 percent on cigarettes at an upcoming November conference, raising concerns among free market tax policy analysts about fiscal sovereignty and bureaucratic mission creep.
This initiative was under the radar until just a few months ago, but having now started to leak out in many places the WHO are furiously spinning to convince us that they're just having a laugh, really. It's not going to be mandatory. Oh no, not at all.
[WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarveic said] "implementation of national tax policies remains the full sovereign right of the Parties"
Err, so why discuss adding it to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control if you aren't intending to apply pressure on sovereignty of national taxation?

This is how these unelected bastards work. Hold a meeting that no-one knows about (with prawn sarnies and much more provided by pharmaceutical companies); pass a resolution; send it out to heavily-funded tobacco control minions worldwide to bully spineless governments into submission.

That's modern democracy, folks.

Of course, as with all hysterical anti-smoking initiatives, this would smash open the door of national taxation for any number of single issue cocktrumpets to quote as a precedent. It's bad enough that the EU is firing compulsory directives from Brussels which our parliament is only empowered to rubber stamp, without yet more unelected bureaucrats taking their slice of our self-determination.

Fortunately, our esteemed mascot has spotted this and directed a pertinent question to the Treasury.
Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative) 
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to ensure UK sovereignty over the setting of excise duty rates, and use of that revenue, during negotiations on the draft guidelines for the implementation of Article 6 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in Seoul in November 2012. 
Sajid Javid (Bromsgrove, Conservative) 
Article 6 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the draft text of the guidelines for implementation of that Article make clear that the guidelines currently under negotiation are non-binding and that States Party to the Convention retain full sovereignty over fiscal matters, including how revenues from tobacco taxation are spent. The issue of a threat to UK sovereignty over the setting of excise rates and the use of that revenue does not therefore arise.
Duly noted, Sajid. That's firmly in the memory banks, sunshine. "The issue of a threat to UK sovereignty ... does not arise", is something I hope we never have to quote back to you in the future.

If that's the last we hear on the matter, I'll be surprised, though. The time when anyone could trust politicians as far as we can throw them died around the time Giant Haystacks did.


John Pickworth said...

"The issue of a threat to UK sovereignty over the setting of excise rates and the use of that revenue does not therefore arise."

The operative word here being AND

I'm afraid the wriggle room here might be that the WHO sets/mandates the rate but the ever grateful sovereign states get to spend the receipts on their own lovely pet projects. See, the big nasty WHO aren't stealing your money after all... and the tax will of course only affect those awful smokers who squander precious NHS resources. Everyone's a winner, including the politicians who can then blame outside forces for the punishing rates of tax.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

True. It wasn't the most solid of dismissive answers, was it?

Sam Duncan said...

I don't think it's even that. I'd say the operative word is “sovereignty”. Nobody will be obliged to raise excise duty, but that doesn't stop some greasy little twat of a future Chancellor doing it anyway in a fit of pandering to the prohibitionists.

It's the classic Tranzi MO: get a crowd of faceless UN nobodies (and they are: no-one, in any field, who's genuinely any good at what he does has the time to ponce around with an ID lanyard round his neck at these international wankathons) to set some idiotic “target” or “standard” or something, then start whining that everybody else is doing it and we don't want to be isolated, alone in the world, because of the intrangisence of a few extremists...

Bemused said...

No chance Dick. HMG will jump at the chance to hike the sin taxes, blame the WHO and reap the benefits. Although at 70% we be nearly due a price cut.

Junican said...

I think that it is even simpler than that. The 'activists' (with no authority whatsoever) want to get this 'objective' written into the Treaty. That is the only objective for the time being. The same applies to the banning of smoking in cars. Enforcement problems are irrelevant to the Zeolots. The just want antismoking legislation on the statute book. That is all.