The introduction of the zero deficit budget and subsequent taxes have taught ordinary Malawian  the importance of maintaining good diplomatic relations with traditional partners like Britain, Germany, Norway and the European Union. For the first time in the name of a sovereign state will Malawians even those not on gainful employment pay taxes for water, mang’ina, salt, bread milk name it. This means the donors protect the poor and the middleclass from ruthless politicians.

It is not that the payment of taxes is bad. Even Jesus Christ acknowledged the responsibility of paying taxes to Caesar by citizens. The problem is the timing and level of taxes. Good taxes are expected to be based on moral values. Why should  Bingu the creator of these taxes not also pay some of the taxes? He still continues to administer a bloated cabinet when poor citizens are paying useless taxes. How could government justify the increase in spending under state residences from K1.4billion to K1.56billion? Similarly how could the presidency justify an increase in spending from K186.64million to K202million when it is the poor who will pay that money? The fact is that a good tax is expected to have moral values. Its test is on flexible to protect the poor and provide incentives to those who cooperate. Therefore, a moral tax system must be sensitive to protect the poor. A tax system that exempts a president and rewards incompetence cannot be sensitive.  It is not fair for anyone to enjoy money collected from the poor under the guise of entitlement. The middle class in any country constitutes a large proportion of society and it needs encouragement by the tax system. If the middle class is over taxed, the tax system stifles capacity for national economic growth.. It is nonsense for any tax system that skims citizens by taxing everything from source of income to expenditure including children’s food and clothes. That is slavery. While the Malawi Revenue Authority is a government agent mandated to collect taxes and ensure compliance, there is need for an  Independent Tax Advisory Commission to monitor  the performance and fairness of the Malawi Revenue Authority. In a constitutional democracy, there is no one above the law. Therefore, the MRA should be subject to checks and balances. You cannot expect complaints against the MRA to be addressed to the Director General of the same organization.  The new tax system which is assuming that things will be the same as before is a great yoke to Malawians. This is because of executive arrogance by Bingu. It is bound to fail because  there is no donor aid to cover shocks in the revenue system. The zero deficit budget is in fact a zero expenditure budget and will over tax the poor. Then where is the pro-poor mantra sang by Bingu in this tax? Bingu has finally sacrificed the poor on the altar of his ambitions. The poor in this country have been taken for a ride for along time-a price they pay for their ignorance. They take subsidized fertilizer as a gift and thank government for making it available to them. What they do not know is that the money government uses to buy the fertilizers comes from the many indirect taxes they pay.  In the circumstance in which government lost donor support due to intransigence and failure to respect human rights, it is an insult to expect innocent citizens to pay unreasonable taxes to cover the lost revenue. This mean the citizens are suffering twice. It is like a woman who decides to divorce her husband and later forces her children to sleep without food because she cannot afford to buy the food.  Instead government should have overhauled its administrative infrastructure to cut down the size of the cabinet, salaries, and allowances and amalgamate some of its departments. Pillage in the statutory companies should have been stopped to ensure they contribute to the treasury as opposed to what is happening now when these organizations have become cash cows for the ruling elite. Ordinarily, in mature democracies, cost reduction should have started from the presidency. This tax raises the legality of the ruling DDP continuation of treating public resources as for the ruling party when the taxes are paid by every citizen regardless of party affiliation. Is that not corruption which the ACB must stop.  The colonialists were smart. Before they thought of introducing  taxes on citizens in Nyasaland, they  first  established  the tea and tobacco estates where able bodied men were offered employment opportunities.  This was an incentive for men to go out and work in the farms where they paid income taxes. There was the poll-tax. This tax was an incentive for lazy men to look for gainful employment. Has government created employment for citizens without jobs to get employed and afford to pay the taxes”?

 

 

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