Thursday, February 10, 2011

The state of our nation

Mr. President,
A lot has appeared in the media recently about the state of the nation address later today, it’s been a year since your last effort at the addressing the nation thing, I must say, however that your last effort did not stick in my mind, or shape my thinking for the year past. Perhaps you could start rather by stating what was achieved last year that resulted directly from your last State of the Nation address, rather than launch into lengthy proposals for the coming year, that way we could look at achieved objectives and use them to motivate achieving any new ones you may propose or introduce. In fact as I sit here, I can’t recall anything constructive arising out of last year’s State of the Nation address, and it makes me sad to have to tell you that the only salient events of the last year, are to me quite negative. The negativity of my perception has been created and reinforced by the numerous incidents of the abuse of taxpayers’ funds by the various government and quasi government bodies in the last year. Uppermost in my mind is the government sponsored proposed gagging of the media, through the thinly disguised Media control legislation, what’s next? Instead of dwelling on the negative, although your administration has made this an entirely easy job, can we rather discuss some things that every taxpayer (your employers) would like to see done?

We have a national tax revenue of around R400 billion, so to expect the nation to carry the cost of a National health Scheme costing R200 billion in the first year, is not only dangerous, it’s plain downright stupid. While I agree that every South African should have access to acceptable health care, I also recognize the folly of making sweeping statements regarding this purely to win votes. And without being unduly critical, it appears that you have a penchant for making sweeping statements just when the party needs critical votes. It would be appreciated if you took this into account before making any more flamboyant statement s or promises, which the taxpayers (your employers) will have to fund. It would also be appreciated if you stopped to consider that in a nation of 48 million people; only some 5.8 million are actually registered, contributing taxpayers. You may well be alarmed at the ratio, but the figures are from SARS reports. In most industrialized countries, the ratio of taxpayers to non-taxpayers is above 50%, you might want to look at ways of addressing this severe imbalance, because we need more financially active people in our country to drive development. And to pay taxes of course, so we can continue to afford to keep you in the luxury you have grown accustomed to.

The other thing you could perhaps address is the new form of covert tax that seems to be creeping into our economy, the concept of user pays, or toll roads to you. There are millions of liters of fuel sold every day in South Africa, each and every liter of fuel carries a tax burden, this tax was ostensibly to build new roads and maintain older roads so that taxpayers could travel on our roads with relative ease, the new toll road network, endorsed by your administration, seeks to impose a double tax on road and fuel users. Perhaps you could indicate where the billions of Rands in fuel tax have gone to? And perhaps you could also look into the tenders which have been granted to develop those new toll roads? You may well be very surprised at what you find. I know your state of the Nation address will be quite lengthy; perhaps you could squeeze just the above points into it?  We would really appreciate real answers for a change.

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