The Ghanaian attitude like that of any human being is multi-faceted. However, one of their behaviours that needs urgent discussing is their marked infatuation with cultivating a habit of earning things, or their living, gratuitous, all of the time if possible. Left to the Ghanaian alone, the ancient manna should still be raining from the higher firmaments to quench their exceedingly hunger for not only food but all their basic and luxurious needs. This characterised insatiable quest for freebies comes at a great price that is unknown to most Ghanaians.
Yes, the poverty afflicting most Ghanaians has pushed them down the path of seeking everything free of charge. They always look up to the government to provide them with possibly everything at no cost; from the provision of free formal education, food, water through and through to public places of convenience, thus toilets.
Even in our villages, the chiefs unlike in the olden days, would not dare organise the inhabitants in what is communal labour to build toilets for use by the people. They look up to the government to provide it for them free.
The government has a duty of care towards the governed, thus Ghanaians. The Ghanaians as the governed on the other hand, must have a responsibility towards assisting the government to earn the money needed to provide them with their essential needs. Sadly, most Ghanaians shirk that part of their responsibility, mostly due to their politics of deception.
The rival politicians in opposition always make the citizens understand that they should not be paying certain taxes, or at the level the party in government is asking from them; and that if their party was in power, they would not let the citizens pay any taxes or only pay reduced rate of taxes.
How does a government acquire money to carry out the much needed developmental projects for the comfort of her citizens? The sources could be many or limited. Nevertheless, is raising taxes from the citizens not one of the components by which a government earns money for the country to be used for the collective benefit of the nation and the people?
Should the citizens refuse to pay taxes as may be required of them but still obligatorily expect their government to provide them with every wish of theirs, could that be reasonably possible? To the best of my knowledge as a resident of a foreign country where their citizens gladly or compulsorily pay their taxes, my answer is a NO with greater emphasis on it.
In Ghana, the fondness for embezzling public funds and State assets by our politicians, civil service heads and those entrusted with higher positions with the judiciary and the law enforcement agents becoming shamelessly conspicuously corrupt, there is no wonder that the ordinary citizens have cultivated that unhelpful habit of wanting everything free without possibly paying any taxes.
Could the following two case references cited from London in the United Kingdom be used to buttress my contention? There was a London independent mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, who when campaigning to be elected the mayor of London, promised to institute what is a “Congestion Charge”. This was about limiting the number of vehicles coming into Central London with the intention of curtailing pollution of the city by fumes from the cars. Pollutants are health hazards, especially to asthma sufferers. Having demarcated the Centre of London as the congestion zone when he won the election, each vehicle, except taxis, public transport, emergencies cars, entering the zone from Monday to Friday was to pay a daily fee of £5.00 which has now risen to £11.50.
This charge initially aimed at making it unpalatable for most vehicle owners to drive into Central London, reduce the number of cars coming within the zone hence reducing the amount of pollution, has now become a source of income generation to the City of London. The income so generated is being used to carry out many public services e.g. purchasing more public buses, repairing the roads, employing more police personnel etc. for the convenience of commuters and the general London public.
Again, the tenant of every apartment within a block of flats or a house, pays a monthly charge called Council Tax to the Local Council of the area where the apartment or the house is situated. It can range from say, £100 to £300 a month depending on the Council Tax band (A to H) and the borough within which it is. This charge is in addition to your rent charge which could be anything between £250 to £7,500 a week depending on the type of apartment and the borough in which it is found. Additionally, you will pay utility (electricity, gas, water and telephone) bills. These charges keep increasing every year.
It is from the payment of these taxes and charges in addition to other sources of revenue that the government and the Local Councils are able to raise enough money to carry out all the essential developments that have made the Whiteman’s countries greener pastures serving as magnetic pull to entice the influx of African immigrants into their countries to fleece them, I may say.
If payment of taxes by the citizens of a country have such beneficial uses to the people, why are Ghanaians by their culture unwilling to pay taxes yet, expect to live comfortably like their White contemporaries?
How I wish our corrupt politicians who make me feel like puking on mentioning of their names would stop playing politics with paying, and the periodic increment in, taxes, as they are useful for the development of the nation for the common good of the citizens.
Should they continually deceive us not to pay reasonable taxes for the sake of them winning power, but only to offer flimsy excuses for their failure to provide the people much needed developments once they win power, I am sorry to say, we have ourselves to blame. You cannot have your cake and eat it, so an adage goes. We cannot have good hospitals, good roads, and potable water, all without paying taxes.
As Rome was not built in a day but progressively over a number of years, so should we not expect to get every promise by the president delivered at the crack of the fingers without also, willing to pay taxes? The dangers of not paying taxes but stealing public money as does our insatiably greedy government and public officials are many – bad roads culminating in road accidents and loss of lives, lack of potable water for the people, lack of good hospitals to treat patients etc.
When you find someone’s pastures greener, it means the owner has tendered it very well. Subsequently, if we find the Whiteman’s country as beautiful and prosperous, it means they have paid their fair rate of taxes, curtailed their desire for corrupt practices and have their laws working firmly and fairly. Isn’t it?
I shall be back with more salvos.
Wednesday, 16 October 2019