DPP economics: choke the poor, feed the corrupt

The expression ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ is believed to have originated from the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates.Talking Blues

In his work Amorphisms, he wrote: “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.”

While Hippocrates meant well, the desperate measures instituted by our economic physician, Dr Goodall Gondwe, will finish us all. Under his watch, it is a gross understatement to say that the economy is in bad shape.

The economy has collapsed and there is no hope in sight, thanks to leaders we elected but are now accountable only to themselves.

Blue Orators, in the run-up to May 2014, Peter Mutharika was all over the place haranguing us with his vision under the mantra “the pursuit of happiness for all”.

Two years on, we know whose happiness he meant.

For those of us suffering economic hardship, unemployment, bad governance, unmitigated looting, blackouts, dry taps and wastage of public resources when service provision is zero, the pursuit of sadness is the order of the day.

Blue Orators, at a time when the majority of us have stretched our incomes to breaking point; in this hard time when experts in managing personal finances are now shamelessly weeping and wailing that they are failing to make ends meet; and at a time when bosses previously unknown to chiyimilire restauranteurs have become regulars at Chiyimilire Lunch Stands, it has pleased President Mutharika to approve homicidal amendments to the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, whose effect is introducing VAT (16.5 percent) on basic commodities such as bread, tap water, milk and laundry soap.

Shamelessly defending this blue murder is Minister of Finance, Gondwe, and some dubious economists arguing that this will expand the tax base and restore the integrity of the tax system by removing distortions that favour some products against others blah blah blah!

Good old Gondwe’s statement is not only nonsensical and insensitive but is an outright lie as his measures and direction are failing to address several pertinent issues.

The bottom line is: the introduction of the murderous VAT regime will not change anything for us, the pursuers of sadness, with respect to availability of social services.

Blue Orators, in case arrogance and sound economics are like water and oil which never mix, I want to set the record clear.

Much as it is true that our tax base is narrow and needs widening, the Finance Minister does not explain why this is the case and how 16.5 percent on Wadawada soap will do the trick.

With dwindling agricultural (read tobacco) fortunes, with companies downsizing and/or closing down due to the harsh economic environment created by partisan-politics-driven consumption economics of Farm Input Subsidy Programme and Malata-Cement subsidies contributing to thousands of us being laid off or unable to secure employment, how would the tax base grow?

Look, while salaried Malawians and the apolitical businesspersons pay taxes, politically connected mafias and their political lords go scot-free.

It is, therefore, selfishness of the highest order that while the President and his henchmen skip t axes b u t get free medical evacuation to South Africa or the USA when they get sick, they have the nerve to shove punitive taxes onto us.

When one criticises the government’s indefensible policies, the trend is that those enjoying the skewed policies quickly rise and argue that do not criticise without offering alternatives.

Just in case such souls are waiting to throw this overused card, I do have suggestions galore.

Other than punishing villagers and the poorest of the poor, for whom Wadawada soap is the only choice not only for laundry but for bathing, dental care and even in lieu of petroleum jelly, why do we not widen the tax base upwards by first removing the tax-free status of the President?

Why should we do that, you ask?

Check this: what is the point in taxing Wadawada when the President and Members of Parliament are allowed to import and even abuse fuel-guzzling SUVs duty-free?

Are we living in George O’well’s animal farm where some animals are more equal?

Before you start thinking I have a thing against politicians, hear the next one.

Instead of taxing tap water, which by the way, civilised governments are obliged to provide; why do we not widen the tax base by taxing our many affluent Men and Women of Gold?

Need a verse? Go read your Bibles on Jesus exhortation to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. If you read even further, you will actually find that Jesus once sent his apostles fishing so as to pay tax!

Blue Orators, if this horrific amendment was an isolated case, I would not have bothered.

But those of you with good memories will recall that not so long ago, Gondwe introduced tax on exercise books while reducing the education budget to fund a state-of-the-art banqueting hall at Kamuzu Palace.

Going back to the 2009- 12 truncated term, the same Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) tried to tax offals.

If these punitive taxes, or rather the use of the funds so collected, were indeed making a difference, I would be the first to commend Goodall.

If this spirited milking of thin cows were for the greater good, i.e., financing provision of basic social services, I, and many of you Blue Orators, would clap hands.

But we all know the sad truth.

These taxes, paid by people sleeping on empty stomachs, are Cashgated by a few. These taxes, paid through the nose, fund Mutharika’s annual pilgrimage to meetings from which the common person benefits nothing.

Given these cold facts, why should we continue tolerating a regime that believes in choking the poor to feed the corrupt?

You know what? If you do your calculations, you will find that the taxes to be collected through VAT on Wadawada soap are far less than the billions stolen – whose investigations and recovery the Anti-Corruption Bureau is just too happy to sweep under the carpet!

Come to think of it, why are we still paying taxes?

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1 thought on “DPP economics: choke the poor, feed the corrupt”

  1. Angel of Doom says:

    This id dated 16 October, and yet the budget was in….?

    When will Malawians stop living in the past? the past never comes back no matter how much you wish it did.

    It is very disheartening to note that Malawians do not realise that the actions of today, do not bear fruit tomorrow, but in the near future.

    This spirit of wanting to have it now now and not wanting to sacrifice for future generations is killing this country..

    Everywhere you look people are talking, acting, gesturing politics, nothing else.

    look at leader of opposition, he is more worried about forming a tribunal within the party, than forming one that will investigate why Malawi is not ticking.

    I have not been able to understand why people think if DPP gave up government, things will suddenly get better.

    The misery we are suffering now dates back to Muluzi, if Muluzi had not mismanaged this country by printing Money,none of this would be happening.Where do you think the likes of Mwitha got the idea of duping people about multiply money?

    Then in came Bingu, who then started borrowing and stashing most of what he borrowed in his pocket. The country has to pay the loans back with interest. Some of this we will start paying in 20 years time, but the money was wasted by Bingu ages ago.

    And what do we do? we look at now!!. what we are doing now will be felt in 10 years time now, and the people in Government then will either be praised or vilified for things they did or did not do. People will be paying for loans for the Nsanje port in 20 years from now instead of using that money for medicines, will that be the fault of the Government then, or Bingus?

    Some people will not even have heard of Bingu and what he did, but will be castigating their politicians at that time.

    Malawians spend half of their meagre income on phone bills, and turn round and complain that we live hand to mouth, how can you not live hand to mouth when you are spending half your income on talking rubbish, instead of investing.

    In some countries, it is acceptable culture to save 25% of ones income after 4 years working, you have a years salary saved and they keep this just in case they get redundant, then they have a year to look for another job without noticing any difference. A Malawian would never do that. (the dyeletu mentality)

    The individual who writes this column knows that what he is talking about is rubbish, but knows that he or she is not interested in giving true and fair analysis, but rather agitate and stair up a frenzy for no good reason but by the fact that they can.

    I have not known of a country in African with so many people of ill will than we have in Malawi.

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