BY CATHERINE KARONG’O
I am disappointed that even with a struggling economy and a people craving for food, this country can still afford to spend millions of shillings to reward big wigs in an activity termed ‘Distinguished Taxpayers Awards.’
This, to me, is a total waste of tax payers’ money and the country’s minimal resources.
Here are my reasons.
In my view, anyone who religiously pays their taxes without fail is a DISTINGUISHED tax payer. Any other classification is irrelevant.
I do not see why the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) or any other person or institution should select a few individuals and institutions and brand them ‘Distinguished tax payers.’
Where does this leave the ‘Wanjiku’ who every end of the month, despite the little they earn, takes their share of taxes to the KRA? Does it mean they are not worth of recognition or is it the case of big and small fish?
After the introduction of the Electronic Tax Register (ETR) machines, many small scale traders use them to receipt. It may not be voluntary, they may just be conforming to standards but at least they have and so earn themselves the title Distinguished Tax Payers.
I need not say or remind you of the many who have flatly refused to pay taxes, reason being they are not feeling sufficiently philanthropic as the Speaker of the National Assembly, in his infinite wisdom, advised them. What do you think if such measures were taken by ‘Wanjiku’ and her fellow small fish?
In essence what this means is that the ‘Wanjiku’ who pays taxes is just another commoner who is not worth of any recognition. I must applaud MPs Johnstone Muthama and Peter Kenneth for being sufficiently philanthropic and establishing links with the tax-man at Times Towers. The 220 others need to follow suit.
But does it mean there was no other category that could have been introduced for the commoners. Is it that KRA has not seen any other Kenyan worth of recognition even if they contribute Sh100 in taxes? Does it mean there is no other ‘small fish’ Kenyan who has voluntarily gone to KRA after seeing the many adverts to remit their taxes?
I think ordinary Kenyans deserve as much recognition as those on KRA’s list.
And for the ceremony to be graced by those holding the highest office in the land was to say the least disappointing. How do you let people who sit in a Parliament that refuses to pay taxes grace a distinguished occasion like this?
Even after a few of the legislators voluntarily agreed to pay taxes, we did not see a single attempt from this class lobbying the undistinguished non-tax payers to comply.
The money used to host the event on Wednesday should instead have been used to resettle the remaining IDPs, feed the hungry or better still use the funds to place measures to catch up with the defaulters. Unless we still want to continue living in a country where some animals are more equal than others.
Though it may be a well intended cause to encourage more people to pay taxes, I think it is a clear way of separating the haves and have nots.
The awards were started in Rwanda some few years back and what KRA did was copy and paste. Can we be original in coming up with measures that would make all of us who play by the rule feel distinguished?