QUESTION OF THE DAY
COULD TAXES EVER SUSTAIN PUBLIC SERVICES?
Governments are established to provide public services, schools, hospitals, roads, electricity and water services, which cannot be provided by individual families. Hence, governments moblise resources in the form of taxation and service charges to be able to sustain and expand public services .
In a country like The Gambia where 49 percent of the population are living below the poverty line the tax base becomes very narrow because of low earning capacity. Hence Governments which depend on taxation must either expand the tax base to include the poor and thus make them poorer or increase the taxation of the rich and reduce their capacity to expand investments. Either way taxation cannot ensure sustainable development of public services.
States which develop avenues for the accumulation of sovereign national wealth from mining, oil drilling, etc are the ones that ensure sustainable development of public services.
In The Gambia small companies are over taxed. Other than social security payments companies have to pay an education levy of 30,000 dalasis aside from income tax. Hence many companies cannot expand to employ more people. Many companies closed down after the first tax tribunal was established. The tribunal revealed that prosperity in the Gambia is fictitious. Many businesses are just meant to support family incomes to maintain family members. Hence closing them down in pursuit of excessive taxation would only increase the army of the poor. Tax reform should be ongoing and GRA should be charged with having a Parliament to gather information for reform and encourage tax compliance. Any repressive measures would only lead to the collapse of companies. The country does not have unemployment benefits. Family members who have share with those who do not have. This is what keeps Gambia going. Hence the on going arrests of senior public servants only increases the number who join the poverty line and nothing is paid by way of fine which enhances national income.