Letters — 16 May 2014 — by David Swatsigga

Dear Editor,

First of all I would like to thank you for publishing my previous article in the Amandala issue #2791 dated Sunday April 6th, 2014. I was motivated to write again by all the corruption news I watch on headlines every single day. It is absolutely disappointing that as a nation which upholds democracy, we are faced with the acts of corruption on a daily basis.

Via this newspaper I would like to challenge the Prime Minister and his Ministers to follow the governance of the President of Uruguay. President Jose Mujica, whose yearly salary is around $162,000 USD, donates 90% towards charity. The challenge is for the Prime Minister and his Ministers to do the same. Most of the Ministers are wealthy lawyers, wealthy businessmen, and economically well positioned individuals. They don’t need the salaries they are allocated from the public purse. After all they vowed to provide the best service for the people of this country.

But most of them don’t help to strengthen our economy and provide better services for the people of this nation. Most Ministers take advantage of their positions to infiltrate into the policies and procedures of the law and public offices and make generous contributions to their personal finances by doing so. Most Ministers are well acquainted with importing extravagant vehicles, boxes of expensive whisky and other products without paying any taxes to this nation that is in need of tax input. These same Ministers are well connected to businesses that import high value containers of products and pay minimum taxes, that is, if they are charged.

President Mujica from Uruguay not even rides in a Prado like our Ministers, or a 2014 SUV. He is the president of a 52.39 billion dollar economy, yet, he drives in his own personal vehicle, which is a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle and doesn’t even live in the luxurious Presidential House.

Compare that economy to ours, which is around 1.552 billion dollars. Yet, our Prime Minister and his Ministers drive the most comfortable and expensive vehicles they can find, their salary is inappropriate, and their stipends are equally inappropriate. Ministries spend millions of dollars in salaries for ghost employees and even employees who are hired just because they are friends and family to the Ministers.

There are employees in Government who don’t even touch their salaries. They live from huge stipends that are offered to them. How can our nation develop in that regard?

Taxes move our nation, taxes pay our public debt and the “super bond”; yet we don’t have enough money to make our country develop. Recently, I was at a huge store and was observing how the cashier didn’t provide any tax receipts to customers. Certainly their business is taxable, yet no tax inputs are generated from their sales. This act of not contributing taxes from sales aids in having our public accounts very low in cash.

I even went ahead and bought a small $30 item and asked the cashier for a receipt. The cashier tried to ignore me and just gave me the change, so I then asked again for a receipt, which I was given showing that tax that the item has to pay.

These acts make our economy weaker and weaker every day. So every time you visit a store, ask them for a taxable receipt, especially the Chinese and Hindu shops.

Coming back to my challenge, I ask the Prime Minister of Belize and his Ministers to do something for this nation. I know that by donating their salary it won’t make a difference to our small country, but certainly but they must make a change to their mismanagement of our resources. If they don’t, we will mobilize all of our resources via the public and institute a new form of government, which will make democracy and development flourish.

Power to the people of Belize.

David Swatsigga

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