Workers Need Income Tax Relief

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THINGS are getting worse before they get better, if at all they ever do get better. Both man and nature have become adversaries and all odds are stacked against the citizens of the world.

In Namibia, there is growing poverty, unemployment is very high, fuel costs are rising and bank rates are up while crime is escalating. Climate change is a problem with rains getting poorer. The list is endless.

There are other vices too – a get-rich quick mentality as well as individualism, regionalism, tribalism. Hate speech and anger are almost common. Said differently, there is growing tension and intolerance in the country.

These negatives look awesome and overwhelming unless the country pulls itself together and redeem its values of care, compassion and inclusion.
At its last congress, a report prepared by former secretary general of Swapo Party, Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, minced no words about a possible worst-case scenario of social unrest unless spiralling unemployment is contained.

That is how serious the situation is.
But what are the remedies. Sufficient plans in the form of various blueprints have been drawn up to cushion the shock effects of these problems. The plans are meant to provide medium- and long-term solutions and they include the three Development Plans and Vision 2030.

In the meantime, there are immediate concerns that need urgent address. Of course, one of the main priorities is creating employment opportunities for the growing number of the jobless who need to put bread on their tables. This is priority number one.

Apart from this group are those who have jobs and need help under current circumstances where they have to contend with stagnant salaries. The rising cost of living means that this group is also hard hit. High fuel costs, bank rates and inflation means that their buying power has shrunk almost to zero and their salaries are stretched to the limit.

While those with jobs are generally considered lucky, their contribution in development and the national economy is not sufficiently appreciated and yet, it is significant. Suffice to say that this group of lucky ones is the engine of local economies because they pay for goods and services, which in turn create jobs.

Those who have jobs are not just a lucky bunch. They directly employ thousands of other citizens such as domestic servants, gardeners, farm hands and others, apart from feeding extended families that number thousands. This helps take some of the burden away from the Government and is a fact of life.

The group extends from the public to the private
sector and is an important pillar for peace and stability in the country. It is an important buffer that provides for the well being of others, however, modest the contribution may be.

Thus, it speaks for itself that when current conditions and circumstances suppress the buying power of those with jobs, everyone stands to suffer. When the high cost of living eats away extra savings and take home pay of those in employment, it leaves them with little or nothing to pay their domestic servants, gardeners and other workers that they employ, let alone pay for goods and services which keep businesses afloat.

This could lead to repossession of goods including houses, cars and other personal belongings. The sum total is that the creation of new jobs is negated by lack of sustenance of those already in the job market.

This situation is untenable. While special focus is on the jobless and rightly so, it is equally important that employers re-look at the plight of their employees, given the current spiralling costs.

One way out of this quagmire is tax cuts. We understand that at 35 percent, our income tax is high compared to the rest of the countries in the region. And if this is true, it also means that any tax cuts would mean loss of revenue for the Government. But then it is a choice between drying the roots of a tree in order to save the branches or vice versa. What is best?

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