Who are you kidding?

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I'm told I was in Le Monde this weekend, being quoted about Bono. But what added a touch of irony was that on the opposite page was an advert for the new 'tax heaven' (paradis fiscaux) of Macedonia. I can't find an on-line version of the ad, so I've made it available here and I'm sure they won't mind; it's simply a synopsis of their web site.

Ignore for a minute some of the absurd factual claims in the ad. Just look at the CIA fact book to see they don't stack. Concentrate on the tax instead. It's a fiscal heaven, they say. But then look on the web site for discussion of labour costs and note that they say:

An educated and qualified labor force is available to investors in Macedonia. The average gross monthly salary is 370 Euros, out of which 220 Euros are net salary, and the remaining 150 Euros are for payroll taxes.

Which looks like an effective tax rate of over 40% on annual income of £3,100 in Macedonia. When the investor will be paying nothing what sort of labour relations is that going to create?

The reality is that this is no low tax state. This is a desperate state. So why invest? No doubt that's what Macedonia asked of itself before making such an absurd investment proposition. And I suspect anyone with any sense has failed to find an answer. The reason's simple. Tax competition is the badge of a failed state. That's what Macedonia is promoting. I feel really sorry that someone sold them such a bad deal.