One salient criticism in literature and the writings of racist especially American racists is that black people are corrupt .
This argument leads me to reflect on how corruption resonates in the Jamaican society. It is no more more pronounced than in our attitude to and treatment of taxation.Yes, tax dodging is a serious part of the Jamaican culture. The fact is not all persons can be labeled tax dodgers or tax cheats. The island’s public servants and private sector workers pay before they see that net income on their pay cheques. The same cannot be said of many who provide employment or do business in this country.
To prove a point I took two patients to a known neurologist. Jumping up his fee by over 25% since the last visit less than 6 months ago, he gave them no receipt after they forked out five figures for a visit which was less than 10 minutes. I wondered why such a prominent, recognized professional operated in that way. What we need to realize is that hundreds of professionals including doctors, lawyers, dentists and even accountants cheat big time. Not to mention those who operate skilled services and rental services. So much taxes could have been collected to supplement the PAYE , GCT, Company taxes etc. Instead, like the mushrooming of crime since the seventies our society has tragically become filled with corrupt minds and body with a loss of integrity and values.
The Protestant Ethics seems like a fallacy as our so called western society makes laughter of developed wester countries such as the USA , Canada , Wales and England. It is in the DNA to cheat our government and tax authorities as persons in positions and income generation strives to hide their income and revenue joining the greedy for more ostentatious consumption and profiling.
Conscience is not something many black people have, corruption means nothing to them. For many of our professionals and business class, it is more money and no care for ethics , morals, government compliance or respect for statutes. But it runs also at the head of so called “respectful society”. In the 90’s Edward Seaga could not give a plausible answer why his Garden at Ocho Rios failed to remit his employees NHT and NIS deductions. Sadly those workers were never able to access housing benefits or obtain their contribution refunds. Seaga’s flimsy argument for a so called “brains” was that he had no knowledge of the liabilities as his manager was the person responsible to remit those taxes. I am sure Jamaicans at that time looked down at his flimsy and stupid response and was probably a good indication of what kind of leader he would be after that election which was around the same time as the issue of non payment of taxes (NHT and NIS ) by his garden enterprise, Carinosa. So tax liabilities and non compliance were never the domain of the masses or the poor, the poor ethics and corruption were demonstrated by those in power, those with wealth, those privileged to provide employment and those who should be stewards of our society.
A nasty area of tax evasion is getting “comfy” with your neighbourly or introduced customs officer. Customs evasion is as big as it was in the 80’s when higglers cheated and bribed Customs officers daily. It continues today by secret deals in nightclubs, restaurants, homes, hotels, and on verandahs. For persons with positions of power and influence it is a regular occurrence to bribe their favourite officer. Buying a Customs Officer a new car, an android phone or cash gifts are regular payback for unethical acts. When not directly paid , some Customs Officers ensure that their families, wives and sweethearts are at the receiving end of the kickbacks and payment. It would have been good if the public was privy to the criminal acts of these agents of the state, but it is plain knowledge that like the banks, unscrupulous acts by workers in state uniforms are hardly revealed to the media, except when there is a plot and a “bad mind” agenda by a supervisor or head of department. That is the only time that you will hear of that employee being charged for a breach.
Corruption especially in the sphere of tax evasion and tax cheating continues today. The culture has not changed and will not be changing for perhaps the next three generations, at least not under this regime.
Our people must understand that sin destroys a nation. We only need to look at Africa to the result of widespread corruption. It is the worst region of the world as it regards human development and social progress. Corruption has pinned Africa to a quagmire, for Jamaica that situation may be around the corner.
By Winston Donald