Government group proposes tax on those without broadband

This is probably the first attempt by any government in a developed country to directly tax the victims of its own policy failures for the policy failures.

People paying for motor tax by post or over the counter are to face penalties as part of a bid to drive more business online proposes the Local Government Efficiency Review Group (LGERG).

Online services would cut costs to the taxpayer and increase efficiency, according to the recent LGERG report. Among the chief targets for these further cost-savings were motor tax, advertisements and planning applications.This simply demonstrates how arrogant and out of touch the government and its bewildering array of quangos and agencies such as the LGERG is with the reality of the broadband situation throughout the state.

The proposal seems grossly unfair where 10s if not 100s thousands, of people throughout the country still do not have access to good quality and afordable broadband facilities and therefore cannot go online to avail of these services. It is a tax on Minister Ryans failure to deliver affordable universal high quality broadband.

We in IrelandOffline do not feel that the citizenry should be directly taxed for Minister Ryans continual failure to address the substandard telecommunications market in Ireland.

The hardest hit are likely to be the elderly and those in disadvantaged areas and in more rural areas where telecommunications networks are consistently substandard. The Local Government Efficiency Review Group group insists that this is not a revenue generating scheme but aimed at encouraging use of the online system.

To a reasonable and right minded person it is evidently an ill-advised and badly thought out proposal when vast swathes of the population of the country cannot use it in the first place as they lack the basic facilities.

To this end we propose a smart simple and dare we say ‘green’ solution.

We propose that the government mandates the LGESB to first set up a Citizen speedtest.net server using the software provided at a low cost by the speedtest.net network. We ask for one small modification, the ability to link a PPS number to the speedtest result.

Where the citizen cannot achieve a stable, low latency, minimum 256k connection over which to do their business with the state and its service providers they are to be credited all of their online taxes,in full, by all government service providers for a full year. Thereafter they may try the test again to see whether matters have improved.

The Local Government Computer Services Board is the central IT procurement arm of local government. IrelandOffline shall be seeking a meeting with them as a matter of urgency to discuss the mechanics of this speed testing network.

We expect that Minister Gormley, who is the Green Party leader, will instruct his staff to co operate in a meaningful way with this testing initiative.

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