‘We Pay Taxes For Nothing’

JammehEvery responsible government preoccupies itself with turning citizens taxes into providing basic amenities, infrastructure and services. The very rationale of having a government is to give chance to others to become servants of civilians. That’s why government employees are called civil servants, although ours are Jammeh servants. As a representative of the civil population, the government is tasked with the responsibility of raising money mainly through tax collection. It then spend the tax money wisely. And to avoid wrongful or lavish spending, the executive branch of the government sends the yearly budget to parliament for scrutiny and endosement. Where necessary the parliament (excluding Gambia’s rubberstamping parliament) will reject the budget if it fails its purpose.

But in The Gambia a budget bill does not require a certificate of urgency to be passed in a hurry. No ruling party parliamentarian dares voice opposition against any government sponsored bill more so vote against it. None of them wants to open a combat with a Bully President who will gore them to deatg. They still have fresh memory of insults President Yahya Jammeh had rained on them in 2005 for merely sending back a budget for adjustment. Yahya Jammeh summoned the former Majority Leader Churchill Falai Baldeh and others to State House to vent his anger on them. In between curses, Jammeh had reportedly questioned whether his bunch of handpicked MPs had grown feathers to the point of challenging his authority. He bragged investing heavily in their nomination and election only for the “useless MPs to slap me on the face. Let this be the first and last of this nonsense.” 

A parliament that is caged like the one we have at home will at best massage the ego of the President instead of exercising its oversight responsibilities. That is why our MPs spend more time in Kanilai than in parliament or with their constituents. Some hardly visit their consequency. These are not the parliamentarians who will ensure that taxpayers get their fare share of development projects. Jammeh knows they don’t have the teeth to bite that’s why he has repeatedly told opposition leaning regions that they would not enjoy his government’s development. Such a foul statement cannot be uttered by any president in a serious democracy without being impeached. But the Arabs put it clearly, “every place has its own words.”

After a careful diagnosis, every genuine person will agree with an opposition UDP youth leader that “we are paying taxes for nothing.” Bintou Camara told a Latrikunda rally that “people don’t benefit from the taxes they pay. Look at the state of the market, roads and the health sector.” 

We expect The Gambia government to live within its means. It’s about time stop Jammeh stopped digging us deeper into debt when it is not spend on providing development for the taxpayers. We will at least be at ease with paying a loan that has been invested on infrastructure, public amenities or provide essential services. That was what former Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade did.


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