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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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No developed country in the world thrives without a tax-based revenue system

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Dear editor,

Dr. Ceesay, While watching your recent Giss Giss program on Fatu Network, I noticed the recurring assertion that taxes cannot develop a country. I respectfully disagree. No developed country in the world thrives without a tax-based revenue system. Major economies like the USA and the UK rely heavily on individual taxes. Recently, we’ve observed that large corporations evade taxes, compelling figures like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to call for a revision of the US tax code, highlighting its inequities where even their cleaners pay more tax than they do. Those familiar with Scandinavian countries know they impose some of the highest taxes globally, yet they are ranked among the happiest and healthiest according to the UN Human Development Index.

Having lived and studied in Sweden for forty years, I have a deep understanding of their successful tax system. In the mid-nineties, while working with the Future in our Hands and building schools in The Gambia, I advised the then Minister of Education on adopting the Swedish model of progressive taxation. A week and a half later, I received a call from the Minister confirming that President Jammeh had taken my advice seriously, leading to the establishment of the GRA and a tax-based economy within a year. Taxes should be progressive with a threshold to exempt the poor, helping them rise out of poverty. The Gambian government must better organize to generate more income tax without causing inflation. Taxation of goods and imports can cause inflation, but income and national contribution taxes do not have the same effect. Additionally, I heard a misleading phrase suggesting that governments don’t create jobs, which even the president has repeated. This is unfounded. In advanced countries, including the USA, UK, and Scandinavian nations, the government is often the largest employer. This phrase originates from right-wing neo-conservatives advocating for minimal government and deregulation, which benefits the private sector at the expense of the public. In the UK, for instance, the government is the largest employer. However, the privatization of public sectors in the 70s by Thatcher led to economic decline, earning the UK the nickname “the sick man of Europe,” and forcing it to join the European Union.

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Today, many economic experts in the UK support reversing these privatizations. It is crucial for the president to surround himself with experienced and knowledgeable advisors. I am sharing this note because my previous correspondence to Dr Ceesay went unanswered. With a background of forty years in Sweden, twenty years of organizational leadership, and academic credentials in international development and business leadership, I believe my insights can contribute to national development. The country needs proper organization in all sectors, interconnected under the government. Dr. Ceesay should be an exemplar of innovative, sincere, and hard-working leadership. The recently passed anti-corruption bill must serve as a fundamental guideline for all government actions.

Saul Jawara,

UK.

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