BY STEVE BIKO WAFULA
Taxes play a vital role in a country’s economic development and provision of essential public services. In Kenya, one of the laws emphasizing this is the Income Tax Act (Cap. 470), which mandates individuals and businesses to contribute a portion of their income to the government.
These tax revenues are then utilized to fund infrastructure projects, education, healthcare, security, and other crucial services. By fulfilling their tax obligations, Kenyan citizens and businesses actively participate in nation-building, fostering socio-economic growth, and ensuring a sustainable future for all.
When citizens pay taxes, they expect their government to provide a wide range of services and fulfill various responsibilities. Here are key points to help citizens understand the benefits of tax contributions;
Infrastructure development: Tax revenues are utilized by the government to invest in the development of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways, airports, and seaports. These projects improve connectivity, facilitate transportation of goods and services, and enhance economic growth.
Education: Taxpayers should expect their government to allocate funds for the improvement of the education system. This includes building and maintaining schools, providing quality teaching materials, and ensuring access to education for all citizens. It also involves training and hiring competent teachers to enhance the learning experience and foster the development of future generations.
Healthcare: Taxpayers have the right to expect a well-functioning healthcare system that provides quality medical services. Governments utilize tax revenues to build and maintain hospitals, clinics, and healthcare centers, hire skilled medical professionals, and ensure the availability of essential medicines and equipment. Additionally, taxes can support initiatives for public health awareness, disease prevention, and health research.
Social welfare: Governments are responsible for providing social welfare programs to support vulnerable populations. Tax revenues are used to fund programs such as social security, disability benefits, unemployment benefits, and public assistance. These initiatives aim to alleviate poverty, provide a safety net for those in need, and promote social inclusion.
Public safety and security: Taxpayers should expect their government to allocate funds for maintaining law and order. This includes funding law enforcement agencies, equipping them with necessary resources, and implementing crime prevention measures. Taxes also contribute to emergency services, disaster management, and ensuring public safety.
Defense and national security: Governments allocate a portion of tax revenues to defense and national security. This involves maintaining armed forces, acquiring the necessary equipment, and ensuring the security and sovereignty of the nation. Taxes also support intelligence gathering, border control, and defense research and development.
Public transportation: Tax revenues are used to improve public transportation systems such as buses, trains, and trams. Governments invest in developing efficient and affordable transportation networks to reduce traffic congestion, promote sustainable mobility, and enhance public accessibility.
Environmental conservation: Taxpayers can expect their government to allocate funds for environmental conservation and sustainable development. This includes initiatives to protect natural resources, preserve biodiversity, combat climate change, and promote renewable energy sources. Taxes can support environmental research, conservation projects, and the enforcement of environmental regulations.
Governance and public administration: Tax revenues are essential for the functioning of public administration and governance. Governments utilize taxes to maintain institutions, pay civil servants, and provide administrative services. Taxes contribute to transparent and accountable governance, ensuring efficient service delivery and effective policy implementation.
Cultural and recreational activities: Governments allocate funds to support cultural and recreational activities that enrich citizens’ lives. This includes promoting arts, heritage preservation, organizing cultural events, and developing public parks, libraries, and sports facilities. Taxes contribute to creating a vibrant cultural landscape and fostering community engagement.
It is important to note that the specific allocation of tax revenues may vary depending on a country’s priorities, economic conditions, and societal needs. However, citizens have the right to expect that their tax contributions will be utilized responsibly and efficiently for the betterment of society as a whole.
Government has no right to force taxes down our throats in the name of saving plans. In fact, saving plans ought to be voluntary – if citizens, especially ordinary ones must contribute towards a housing fund, for example, they should be left to do it without coercion.
For the “homes for hustlers” push, though, the current regime needs to start with the hustlers who were the bulk of their voters. If the current administration started by charging motorbike riders Sh1000 a month, “mama mbogas” (Sh1500), house girls (Sh1200), sex workers (Sh2000), drivers and conductors (Sh4000), the “jaba base” individuals (Sh3400), and squeeze something from hustler loan customers, housing fund, for example, will be a success.
Assuming 20 million hustlers buy the idea, and are set to chuck Sh25,000 each, the figure will ultimately hit close to Sh500 billion a month, an amount enough to build each hustler a house and create the needed jobs. A lower figure of Sh5,000 per 20 million hustlers (that’s a cool Sh100bn) will equally favour the lot.