How your business ethics define your patriotism
Just as love is a prerequisite to obedience, true patriotism depicts one’s love to their country. It is beyond obligation, responsibility and paying debts. Essentially, it should be a response that surpasses all the existing complaints. If this is the case with patriotism, then the cases of smuggling and evading taxes should not be part of Rwanda’s story.
When you evade taxes and smuggle, becoming a merchant of contraband, you stand such a betrayer of the ideals of development. Smuggling severely harms the economy, undermines the local industry, discourages fair competition, promotes dumping with all its dirty attendants and shrinks the volume of revenues collected by the state.
Greed for wealth, ignorance of the tenets of building an economy and the weak pillars that can educate the masses on the importance of tax compliance can be seen as forces that give an undivided impetus to the flourishing of the entrepreneurial and development cancer.
When an importer declares goods under a lower value code particularly to attract lower tax rates with intent of reducing the tax liability, you are not a patriot.
If you declare a wrong country of origin as the source of goods particularly with COMESA and non COMESA states because of the lower tariff rates for goods originating from COMESA member states, you are not a patriot.
If you declare fewer quantities on importation documents than the actual goods being imported and giving a lower value than the actual value of goods, you are robbing your country.
It is unfortunate that a similar underground economy is said to be taking roots in Rwanda. The activity undermines the social fabric of society and has devastating consequences on national economy. A small proportion of the revenue to be collected by the government is being lost, over and above the adverse impact that the smuggled items cause to the growing industry.
Recent reports from Rwanda Revenue Authority indicate that there is frequent smuggling of liquors and wines, iron sheets, rice, construction materials, consumable products such as Nido, clothes, electronics and motor vehicles where the smugglers decide to change the chassis numbers.
The RRA Revenue Protection Unit has put measures in place to curb the vice but we need to tackle the problem from within our inner selves. If all of us understood the value of paying taxes, we would not be incessantly discussing ways of curbing smuggling; we would not have been stopped by RRA officers on patrol to check if there are any smuggled goods on board.
Many people complain about the need to pay taxes, but what they don’t realise are the services they get in return for paying such taxes. Though tax can be a real burden at times, it’s imposed for a reason, which is for your benefit and the whole society.
Without Taxes! No schools, streets and roads, no libraries, police or fire departments, no sanitation sewers, storm drains, no town managers. At the state level, there would be no highways bridges, or state forests, no recreation areas, no regional water supplies, no National Guard and at the federal level, no navy army, a military of any kind, no interstate highway systems, and no national parks. Taxes are how the members of our society pay for these services we all use.
Well, the government needs a good and stable financial resource base to manage all aspects of the entire economy. The revenues from domestic taxes provide this. Without it, the services offered to all citizens could not at all be provided.
Think about this, if we only paid for the services we need then there is no way we could afford it. For instance, if you wanted to go from Kigali to Gitarama, can you afford to pay for the construction of road that connects these two places? NO. You open a tap and clean water flows out of it; if we were to put a filtration system on our own and a pipe that connects all the way to the nearby reservoir, it would cost just too much. Therefore, we pay for these services in form of taxes and use them as an entire society.
The result of not paying taxes could be penalty and prison time. There is no need for that, why can’t we be patriots enough and meet our tax obligations? So next time, when the time comes to pay taxes, do not feel too bad. It is your contribution to the services you receive in return.
Contact email: moses.kirui[at]newtimes.co.rw