Post modern

12:00 am Politics

The modern world is no stranger to random incompetence and clueless behaviour. It’s just a pity that these things so often afflict The Powers That Be. Latest “you haven’t really thought this through” innovation comes from the European Commission - the imposition of VAT on postage stamps (freshly up to 28p already).

Now, on the face of it that looks almost sensible. It’s something you buy, after all. But the stated reasons are, well, off-kilter. It’s apparently to ensure a level playing field in the competitive postal market. Riiiight. What competition would this be, then? Sure, parcels and stuff can be sent by any number of people. I expect British Gas probably do parcel delivery these days. But letters? Let’s see. There’s the Royal Mail and, erm… No, that’s it.

Level playing fields are all well and good, but this is a monopoly situation already. Actually “monopoly” probably isn’t the right word. “Useful public service that we actually only need one of” is probably closer. But I digress.

You’d imagine that the upshot of this clearly pointless VAT thing would be to make stamps more expensive. But no, say the EC - if VAT is payable on stamps then the Royal Mail could claim back VAT they pay on petrol and stuff and thus their costs would be lower and the price of stamps would remain the same.

Following this? According to the EC, the Royal Mail have an unfair advantage over their non-existent competition because, er, they have to pay full whack for petrol and delivery vans. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? And of course, from there it’s obvious that the solution is to whack on VAT that’ll disappear inside the organisation and none of the Mail’s customers will ever notice.

Someone remind me what the point of all this is? Oh yes, it’s a hulking great bureaucracy beavering away making work for itself. That’ll be it.

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