What’s a Bad Law: A Commentary on Gok State Taxation Act, 2016

By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/04/2017, SSN;

A bad law refers to: a law that is oppressive; a law that causes injustice; dumb laws, which are particularly bizarre; a law that is erroneous or a law where an attempted statement of the law is inaccurate or non-law.

In relation to the Taxation Act 2016 of Gok State that imposes 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer, it is a bad law as it is oppressive; it causes injustice, it is dumb law, which is particularly bizarre and its proposition is erroneous as its attempted statement of the law is inaccurate or non-law.

In addition, the Gok State Taxation Act is one of the bad laws because it imposes burden on citizens of Gok State who do not have the source of income as they are struggling to make both ends meet or in other words to survive.

The authorities of State must know that the people of Gok State need support from the government not the government to tax them as seen above. The Taxation Act of Gok State does not follow the role of tax law in general and in Gok State in particular.

The role of taxation law in Gok State is to encourage hard work in a way that those who idly sit under trees all days should be taxed in order to force them to pay taxes that will make them go and work and as soon as they work then they should not be taxed unless they have surplus for sell as a result of their work.

In doing that, the conflict will be minimized as everybody will be struggling to work in order to pay taxes to the government. In addition, the taxation should be governed by the principle of taxation.

A taxation law must put into consideration four principles that are: the system should be efficient, understandable and equitable and those who benefit from publicly-provided services should sponsor and pay for those services through taxes. This means that the government officials should be the one to pay taxes as they benefit from the services of the government but not the poor people in rural areas of Gok State who do not have access to services provided by the government.

Above all and in relation to the above paragraph, the taxation should be determined by a person’s ability to pay, which means that wealthier people should pay more taxes because they are able to do so. This specific principle is also known as a flat tax rate. For example, a tax of 10 percent would have far less of an impact on a person who makes a million dollars a year than on someone who makes $10,000.

However, the Taxation Act of Gok State of 2016 that imposes 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer, is a burden to the Gok people as it is insensitive and it is just intended by the law makers to destroy the communities through turning them into begging population as the taxation law makes them poor.

What the authorities in Gok State must understand is that the taxation law should not be made a means of making people poor on the ground that the government needs revenues. The law should help people to become rich not poor.

People in Gok State are generally poor as they depend on their educated people or their relatives living abroad. Hence, the question is if they are able to get such resources as demanded by the authorities then why should they bother their brothers and sisters from abroad to help them?

In short, such a law was enacted in bad faith as it is absurd since it defeats logic and common sense. It is simply unfair and unjust and citizens must unite to raise this issue before the governor. It is against the purpose of tax law.

The main purpose of taxation is to ensure income distribution so that the rich pay more than poor. Therefore, the tax policy and objective should be the resource allocation. The second objective should be income redistribution, which means that the tax law should be able to lessen inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth.

Above all, the objective of tax should be the stabilization of economy which is implemented through tax policy, government expenditure policy, monetary policy, and debt management. In fact, debt management ensures maintaining high employment and price stability.

The foregoing discussion points to the one fact that the Gok State Taxation Act, 2016 falls short of the above recognized principles of taxation law and because of that there is a need for amendment because it is making citizens poorer instead of helping them to achieve economic development.

Thus, the youth leader, Abraham Ater Dut Dong, who was arrested in Gok State because of appealing to the state Governor to initiate the amendments of the Taxation Act 2016 as Radio Tamazuj reported (in the Article entitled: Gok youth leader in detention over opposition to taxation bill published on its site on February 2, 2017) is right and should not have been arrested or even rebuked because it is the role of the youth in civilized society to fight against injustices.

One of the worst things in this world, worse than death is tax injustices, which mean taxing, people which providing them with services equivalent to the taxes they pay. In such a situation, the people have all rights to fight such taxation injustices, which include appealing to the authorities to reconsider their tax policy.

Thus, Governor of Gok State, Hon. Madhang Majok as I know is the governor of the people of Gok State as people elected him before he was appointed and the people have right to appeal to him without being arrested if the administration and taxation law in particular are unjust to them.

The Youth Leader whose name has been referred to above that was arrested because of appealing to the governor of Gok State about that bad Taxation Act was arrested illegally as it is contrary to the constitution of South Sudan.

The reason being that he has not committed any offence and the Commissioner of Wat Adol County, Hon. Makuer Majuec’s statement that he would be taken to court for investigation does not have any basis in law and the Court should set him at liberty.

In summary, the Taxation law of Gok State is a typical bad law, an absurd law and an exploitative law that should not be implemented. The SPLM authorities at higher level must intervene to amend the law in question as it defeats the policy of development which underscores the policy of taking the town to people and if the authorities fail to do that then the citizens of Gok area have all rights to ask the President of the Republic of South Sudan to take town back to town and leave people of Gok alone.

NB//The Author is the Concern Human Rights lawyer from Gok State and residing in Kampala Uganda and can be reached through: +256783579256 or email: juoldaniel@yahoo.com

1 Comment

  1. Mading says:

    The governor of Gok state should consider the individuals income in the area not to imposed the law without knowing the people have. The people of Gok have right to disagree with state law policy and policymakers should not react negatively against his people.

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