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Two sides of the same coin

Sep 20,2018 - Last updated at Sep 20,2018

According to seasoned pundits, the government is soliciting the views of the public in the near and far reaches of the country on the new draft law on taxes the wrong way by separating the taxation issue from the economic side of the equation.

At a time when most people, who are at the end of the day the taxpayers, continue to be alarmed about the slowdown in the economy of the country, the government does not seem to see it that way. The government, most people say, appears to be one-track minded by concentrating on the merits of its draft tax law. That is not the way taxpayers see the issue and it is not the right way to pass judgements on the proposed tax legislation. 

Most economists have cautioned the government that payment of taxes, no matter how low or high, is organically linked to the economic and fiscal situation of the country. In other words, the "fairness" of the taxes that the government seeks to impose on people is relative to their economic situation. The two dimensions are the two sides of the same coin.

The government has yet to show the people that it appreciates this proposition and has done nothing to suggest otherwise. Worse still, it has not shown what it has done to uplift the economy, combat unemployment and stop the cycle of inflation. This side of the equation seems to be totally neglected by either omission or commission by the government, but in either case it is damaging, or at least eroding, the government's credibility and bargaining position when it tries to "sell" the draft tax law to tax payers.

It is not too late in the hour for the government to reconsider its approach on the subject of taxation by reprioritising its "selling pitch" in a way that factors in the main concerns of the people. Until and unless this is done and done soon, the government will be waging a losing battle in this regard.

Judging by the feedback from the field visits the government has conducted across the country, the government may have already lost the battle, but not necessarily the war. By correcting its approach, the government may still win in the end.

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