POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Covid truly pushing for societal changes



“You can see that people have realised the importance of making a place for local business,” Keith O’Donnell says. Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne

“You can see that people have realised the importance of making a place for local business,” Keith O’Donnell says. Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne

A survey by the tax consultancy group Atoz shows that Luxembourg residents are ready to trust the state to achieve major societal changes. Top of their priorities are the environment and climate.

It has often been said, since the start of the health crisis, that this period has been conducive to reflecting on the way in which our societies operate.

Nevertheless, it still takes some convincing that such wishes reflect a larger base of opinion. Six months after the initiation of the first lockdown measures, in mid-August, the Atoz group therefore conducted a survey of 600 residents in order to analyse their state of mind in relation to lifestyle changes.

"We wanted to see what the priorities of Luxembourg citizens were, and what place they were ready to give to the State after a real takeover of the crisis by the governments,” explains Atoz Tax Advisers managing partner, Keith O 'Donnell.

For 56% of those polled, the first priority is to review the population’s impact on the environment and climate. The second is the reinvention of consumption patterns (49%), and the third, the role of the European Union (35%). “I had expected rather that the people surveyed would target our model of economic growth,” O’Donnellsays. Yet barely one in four people pleaded for change.

When asked who to invest in as a priority to induce changes in Luxembourg society, they place consumers first (55%), just ahead of the state (54%). 42% of those surveyed believe there are areas that should be regulated more by the state, while 12% believe that it should regulate much more generally.

But in which areas in particular? Far ahead of all other issues, it is housing that tops the list, with a membership rate of 70%. Respondents believe that the state must above all tax (more) empty housing (48%), prohibit the purchase of housing by companies or institutional investors (35%), or build more housing with public funds ( 35%).

A return to local

Residents also want the state to regulate business activities (44%) and consumption patterns (40%). Concerning state actions to change consumption patterns, respondents called for stricter regulations on the importation of consumer products (29%) and for higher taxation of global e-commerce giants.

“So you can see that people have realised the importance of making a place for local business,” O’Donnell notes.

But there were also what seem to be contradictions: while the survey respondents may advocate measures in favour of the environment and climate, barely 10% support higher taxation on car fuel consumption, while only 9% approve of banning short-distance flights.