This report endorses fiscal responsibility, equitable and simple tax structures, and economic growth in Wales. Ultimately, it promotes the pursuit of a fairer and low tax economy, and as a consequence, the consolidation of a free society. Liberal philosophy lies at the core of this report; thus, a firm belief “in the dignity of the individual, [and] in his freedom to make the most of his capacities and opportunities” (Friedman, 2002 : 195). Acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales, this document urges policymakers to show competence and fairness through the creation of tax policy that encourages 1) economic recovery and resilience, 2) trust and political accountability, and last but not least, 3) wealth creation and prosperity for the future.
Our stance at the Centre for Welsh Studies (CWS) is that the key to prosperity in Wales resides in advocating for humanity’s natural inclination for cooperation, trade, association, and the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. All of this, we believe, is achievable through openness, a sense of fairness, and most importantly, courage. As Eamonn Butler (2020) from the Adam Institute pointed out recently, despite the many unsubstantiated fears and panics of economic and social havoc precipitating post-Brexit, the stock and housing markets didn’t collapse, and Britain’s trade and manufacturing industries carried on.
It is precisely now when Wales must make the most of the global opportunities at hand and take responsibility for the creation of its own wealth and prosperity. After all, this is not the first time Britain confronts uncertainty and succeeds in the process; in this sense, historian Johan Norberg (2020) reminds us that Britain’s superiority in the early Industrial Revolution was largely based on the fact that “there was no longer a controlling hierarchy, no overarching plan, no road that everybody had to walk. There was suddenly room for the unexpected”, and the freedom to forge new ideas, debates, inventions, associations, and ultimately, our own destiny (Norberg, 2020: 188).
The upcoming Senedd election (due to be held in May 2021) will most likely be a historical one. Undoubtedly, its results will reflect the Welsh electorate’s opinions and feelings in regard to the past year, as well as their hopes and individual aspirations for Wales towards the future. It is time for Welsh policymakers to take the driver’s seat, advance on matters of fiscal responsibility, and set out ideal conditions for a freer, more dynamic and prosperous economy. This will necessarily include the notion of a fairer, lower and simple tax system, which stimulates demand, consumption, investment, wealth creation and growth in a post-pandemic, and post-Brexit, context.