Calling on reliable citizens
NO ONE likes the bearer of bad tidings, especially after a long period of gloom. It was a dirty job Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had to do. In the run-up to his maiden mini-budget, expectations were high. Too high, clearly, as all he could do was give us a formal diagnosis and prognosis. The changes the markets and citizens are desperate for can come only from President Jacob Zuma.
The harsh truth Gigaba delivered is that our economy is critical but stable, with chances of getting worse if decisive action is not taken soon.
Gigaba presented a credible image of a responsible finance minister who understood his job of opening the books for all to see. But, the opposition – inside and outside the ANC-led ruling alliance – reminded him even before he could step on the podium of his alleged hand in our economic sickness. Try as he could to steer clear of politics, many could only see his alleged links to the infamous Gupta family.
Officially, forecast growth has been slashed from 1.3% to a meagre 0.7%, our ballooning debt is likely to reach dangerous levels of above 60% of GDP soon, our tax base is shrinking and collection is worsening. What can we do?
The minister pointed to something many of us are capable of influencing – the growing problems of tax compliance and morality.
While the political shenanigans responsible for the administrative part of our tax collection problems are beyond the control of many ordinary taxpayers, the slippage relating to the reluctance of individual and corporate citizens to do the right thing should worry more than just the minister. It should worry all responsible citizens.
Taxpayers are understandably unhappy about rampant corruption and misuse of their contributions. And the tax increases now looming after the bad news will add insult to injury.
But taxpayers can only rightfully complain about the state of our country and economy – and hope for any improvement in future – if they keep their side of the bargain as responsible citizens