Opinion, by Henry Samuels
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After three weeks of protests expressing discontent at government waste, Brazilians finally got a few ideas and promises from their leaders on how some public services might be improved and how corruption might receive stronger punishment. Ok, seems like maybe we’re finally getting somewhere.
But then I saw the following headline on the cover of the Sunday edition of O Globo, the country’s most popular Newspaper: “The Government may raise taxes to pay for the new (promised) benefits.” Seriously? No really, are you kidding? Portuguese is my second language but I am 300 percent sure I have not heard anyone at any protest yelling “RAISE MY TAXES!”
Listen up leaders because you are missing the point. The demand from the public is not “here’s some more money, please spend it this way.” The demand is “stop wasting our money and start investing it in the services that we need!”
It seems a new strategy is needed to get the right response from the government. What if all Brazilians immediately stop paying taxes! Just imagine the impact if the government’s cash flow suddenly dropped to zero. If all businesses and individuals withheld payment this month for every tax like ICMS, ISS, IPI, IR, IPTU, INSS, FGTS, PIS, COFINS, etc. then I bet the politicians would get much better clarity on exactly how to address your discontent.
This concept works great in business. It’s called “pay for performance” and I think Brazil would benefit a lot by using it.