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Phone Tax: Do Cameroon Law Makers Lack Sense Of Making Good Laws?

By Binla Lambert

Basic fundamentals in policy formulation and implementation demands that, key policy stakeholders take into consideration the facets that will make the law inclusive and acceptable to a greater extent by the citizens the policy will affect. The only way to do this is by making sure that;

  1. There is a rigorous integrated awareness campaign to sensitize the masses about the intended law, so as to build interest and provoke chits chats in public spheres that will be use as feedback to make the law/policy holistic and inclusive
  2. All strategic state and non state actors are consulted on their take and inside about the said law/policy as they represent the voice of the masses.

The 2019 financial law which was signed in 2018 factored out phone tax(30% custom duty on any phone worth), application download tax (200frs flat rate for all apps, 19.25 VAT on Facebook ads etc), in some of the articles. This policy just like many others poorly made use of the above common steps of bringing forth a policy that will affect the masses. Whereas the use of the steps could have helped the state to avoid too much backlash from the citizens but again “Cameroun C’est le Cameroun”.

Worthy of note is the fact that majority of Cameroonians are still living below the poverty line and most of them struggle to get these phones out of their very shrink budgets due to the necessities of their day to day lives.

Tax experts will say and state and non-state actors will agree that a good tax system should have the following facets; fairness, adequacy, simplicity, transparency, and administrative ease.

One doesn’t need to read rocket science to state crystal clear that this new tax lacks all of the above. This is so because for an economy that is struggling to emerge by 2035 in order to join the rest of the world on the table of 21st Century digital conversations, one will expect the demand and supply policies that boost the demand side of the digital economic equation to be christened with more subventions policies on ICT tools and platforms but hell NO.

The feeling of resentment is further fuel by the fact that with the constant imposition of exploitative taxes, citizens have as bad roads, inadequate electricity and water supply, poor health infrastructure etc. which are all basic necessities of the society as fallouts of the new tax channels and increase in taxes as the word corruption has become synonymous to the government and administration in place.

Conclusively when you look at all the policies churned out by the different state actors in Cameroon, it should not be surprising because meritocracy has been relegated to the background with people manning positions they know nothing about (Garbage In, Garbage Out, #GIGO). These policy makers forget to understand that when the tax policy is cumbersome it pushes citizens to look for ways of avoiding the tax completely which is legally correct.

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