Opinion

Avoid lethal tax-collection practices

By: John Ador Akoi

In my book ‘LONG JONN Short Stories, Volume 1,’ I wrote a story about a young orphaned boy who lived with his grandmother following the demise of his entire family in a fatal car accident. On his daily routine of loitering at the city center, he one morning noted down cars on sale and decided to sell them on behalf of the owners. Today, the guy is a multi-million dollar cars’ showroom owner besides other business entities including real estate, as he continues to contribute to the Kenyan Economy by paying taxes.

Long story short, the essence of the story: ‘As it is the case to the fully grown chicken, an egg is also edible’, but you benefit a lot when you let the egg become a fully grown chicken.

UNDP–South Sudan, Care International, Oxfam and other international organizations, have so much in their capacities tried to help the youths in South Sudan to start their own businesses by providing them with training opportunities, some of them have even provided cash, where our own local banks

(Government) cannot give out loans. The banks were only allowed to be defiled when a certain pot-bellied Molesting Person (MP) came with a Letter of Credit (LC).

However despite these challenges and the few available opportunities, some few youths have shown real characters and struggled to start small businesses across Juba and South Sudan as I chose to believe. Go to Hai Thoura, Gudele Buoba, Sherikat, Gumbo, and Munuki, South Sudan youths have decided not to be just ‘youthful’, and joined the ‘useful’ club. Today, so many South Sudanese youths own small retail shops, bars, restaurants, boutiques and saloons. Some of them do not have shops, but selling their goods in open spaces. This should put a broad smile into the faces of the South Sudan’s economy stakeholders (Everyone in simple English).

On a sad note however, the high illiteracy level is causing high (intoxicated) decisions from Nicodemus sympathizers; the tax collectors to levy high taxes on these business owners.

The other day, a very pale, tired looking dressed in a dusty yellow shirt gentleman, you could confuse him to a chocolate-vanilla flavored walking ice cream from a distant, approached a small retail bar, where fellow not-working, walking Johnie’s and myself were trying to double shot ourselves with an aim of relieving the stress of being unemployed, as well as relieving the community from the un-known gunmen multiple gunshots. At the bar counter, while I stood ordering fresh rounds of Johnnie Walker, Jerry, the gentleman, an officer of Juba City Council, without uttering a word, removed a pen and paper, upon which at the top of it, sniffled while he scribbled a riddle as he did at the bottom too before handing it over to the bar man.

“You are required to pay 70,000 SSP within 24 hours of this notice”……..blah…..blah…..blah.

Failure to meet the demands, will result to closure of your business’

It read as I curiously looked on the paper. The ’70,000 SSP’ and his number at the bottom of the paper were what the hungry looking Jerry had pen-written on the Juba City Council headed paper. Where or how he got the figures, only him and God know.

The business, not even in its 3rd month, still had a loan to repay, the bar owner’s friends and family had numerous credits because despite their joblessness state, they must ‘keep happiness at close for optimism’s sake,’ their families back at home would on daily basis earn a meal from the bar daily sales.

As if that was not enough, the Three-to-Four (3 to 6) South Sudanese employed youths are also making a living from the bar operations whose break-even point if analyzed could be realized after 2 years of its existence, was being heavily taxed and threatened to be closed if they did not pay the money.

‘Chapter 3, section 17 subsection 1 of the South Sudan’s taxation act 2009 . . ’

Even before I started defending the country, so that the two conflicting parties could understand these things, Jerry cut me short by insisting, they were not the national government; ‘the national is the one that involves itself with the taxation act, our laws are coming from the local government act’ (His

words).

‘Okay but in the local government act 2009 Chapter 2, Section 9, if you read very well, the local government gets its legislations even from the taxation act’. I responded, a move that left him quiet.

Anyway, enough with the laws because a few of us will understand them, even if we follow them, the institutions are not independent and strong enough to ensure the laws are followed: So why force blood out of a stone?’

The other day, South Sudan Artists union had a fight about the union’s leadership collecting annual membership fee, show performances fee among many other fees but recording zero positive changes within the artists but rather increase in so many talents ‘murdered’ (No cross out that word, it is too rebellious, red-line crossing), suffocated. Our tax practices are ill-calculated and dangerous to our economy at the long run.

After all, the law after borrowing from nature, it says, incomes, returns and profits are the ones to be taxed, but I was left frustrated when the city council was taxing debts and loans. Even after the bar owner providing the officer with the records and books of accounts, he still insisted for the bar to pay the amount because he was ordered.

The youths are every country’s economy backbone, their energy, creativity and unlimited abilities. The country is meant to invest heavily on them in order to realize returns, not loot from them or destroy them.

It is high time you let the youths grow by their own if you can help them grow, do not have a hand in killing them! They will take care of you, trust me.

 The writer is a member of Anataban Arts Initiative and the team leader for the Theatre members.

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