Call­ing on re­li­able cit­i­zens

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

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

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