MFEM notes the origins of the “import levy reforms” as dating back to the mid-90s. This is when government and the country went through an economic crisis, and thousands lost their jobs, including 1,500 public servants. It is also when donors introduced a number of foreign personnel to key positions within MFEM as part of aid.
Input from these advisers adhered mostly to deregulatory, free market liberalisms frequently expressed, if rarely implemented, in many first world countries around the globe.
Central to free market policies are low or no levies.
Such policies were under attack then and remain the subject of critical comment today. As much bigger economies struggle with liberalising their own trade, pressure has come on small countries to join world trade efforts to help legitimise these efforts. It is noteworthy that Tonga was hailed as the surely symbolic 150th member of the World Trade Organisation. WTO chief Pascal Lamy said the approval of Tonga’s membership by the global body’s ministerial conference was:
“truly significant and welcome”. Adding a new player, however small, would make the WTO more representative, Lamy told the conference. Tonga’s delegation cautioned that their country would only be able to meet the obligations of WTO membership if the liberalisation this entails matches “our capacity to deliver.” (Agence France Presse 15th December 2005)
“Capacity to deliver” is the issue that MFEM must address with regards to import levy cuts.
Import levy cuts: how much will we lose?
Import levy cuts: process gaps
Import levy cuts: will it work?
Import levy cuts: governance gaps
Import levy cuts: short term suggestions
Import levy cuts: long term suggestions
Import levy cuts: conclusion
Import levy cuts: whole submission