Getting the record straight with the 2% story in UK
|Eritreans in London demonstrating in support of Eritrea and its 2% recovery and development tax|
Getting the record straight with the 2% story in UK
By Jamal T,
I was astonished to read the accusation that Eritreans in UK are being forced to pay the 2% tax as written in two articles by IBTimes on the 11th of February and during last summer; they present outright lies as truth. As Eritrean and a Muslim I do try to pay 10% for building a mosque and help poor people within my family and our communities. Also I try to pay 2% contribution to my mother land Eritrea too. As I had been slower after the recession of 2008 and now I want to pay, but it seems that the Embassy has stopped collecting locally.
When you published your second article it made me realize actually about the fairness of the 2%, I am expected to pay the more to help the disadvantaged poor people and contribute towards building the country. I understand Christians are doing the same too. One has to be very clear that 2% recovery tax is voluntary with purpose of healing the destruction left by the war, is very much needed as the nation of Eritrea starting from scratch.
To us Eritreans our motherland has a position similar to our religion and to be expected to pay Eritrea’s 2% is minimal and fair expectation. The video(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyWkoZgBUeY) you posted on the 11th of February 2014 shows only a polite reply given to him by the Embassy staff. She had rightly confirmed to him that he can pay the 2% recovery tax in Eritrea only that means only information was given to him. One must know that, we Eritreans have every right to voluntarily pay 2 %, to be self reliance and self sufficient rather than waiting handouts. Perhaps other African countries should follow our footsteps specially those who cannot manage without outside help year in year out. And this is true after 50 -60 years of independence if you look at their infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals above all food security capering with our country of 23 years old. Ask the majority of Eritreans whether Christians or Muslims they will tell the truth that we are not really forced under any circumstance government supporters and opponents alike. The truth is anyone having Eritrean Id Card and visiting Eritrea is not asked about his contribution whether on his arrival or departure. It is understood that in due time he/she will fulfill the contribution. To your surprise even those who left the country illegally from the national service could go to their country to see their families and they are not questioned about either the 2% clearance or their illegal immigration.
I must be honest here the 2% contributions comes in to action when someone requests some kind of services, like land allocation and other government documents. Nation building is known as the biggest challenge for any country and specially Eritrea after 30 years bloody war against bigger country with the largest army in Africa first supported by the west and east. Remember our history and culture of voluntary participation in liberating our country, which we are adopting the same concept building through participation in any sense. Now let us come back to the concept of taxation and for example if I get a letter from UK government that I would be exempt from paying taxes I would only be too happy; however the case is I have to pay it like it or not. Actually I appreciate the values of tax collection to the Government. In UK TAX is collected in various ways such as council tax, income tax, National Insurance contribution, Road Tax, etc. Sometimes it may be painful to pay all of them nevertheless, as a result of effective tax collection here in UK; we do have a very effective education system, an exemplar health system, the NHS looks after the whole nation, roads are built and managed, the welfare system ensures pensioners and unemployed are looked after effectively and many more good things. Small countries like Eritrea should aspire to achieve similar effectiveness and that is impossible to achieve without efficient tax collection.
We have to admit though, in UK and many other countries income tax and national contribution taxes are usually collected automatically (almost by force) or in the case of council tax we would be taken to court if we don’t pay. But it is not really common to complain that tax is collected by force but of course we would be happier if we pay less tax. However paying tax is a duty of every one in any country, consequently it is pre-request to expect services from government.
Any way this is not the first time campaign against the 2% recovery tax for example over 15 years ago one Swedish MP from Eritrean decent raised the issues and after discussing in the parliament the MPs rejected the idea by saying any one has dual nationality is allowed to pay the 2% voluntary so the issue must be left to the individuals to decide for themselves. This time again another MP from Eritrean origin who stands not against the 2% but politically motivated took the case to the parliament and the majority of MPs rejected. So what is the fuss about? As declared by the Eritrean embassy by openly telling the Eritrean Community in the UK in May 2012 collecting 2% recovery Tax is technically in Asmara Eritrea only. This is public diplomacy and in fact I am aware the issue is communicated with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). If there is a need the FCO could monitor easily by checking the Eritrean Embassy bank accounts whether the collection stopped or not. Otherwise in our own country we could do what is good for the country people to people diplomacy. In other words if your country men are paying their lives you have to support their families which are morally & ethically sound. It is in every body’s mind that during the armed struggle, our struggle is going to be long with a great suffering but our victory is certain. As Rome is not built in one night and therefore nation building is harder than fighting for liberation and every citizen must add hands in whichever way. It is working for us we are on target and on track to realizing the Eritrean vision. The main advantage or benefit of the 2% contribution is the link it has created between those living inside and the diasporas, almost a culture you may not find in any other country.
When it comes to Eritrea the 2% tax is an expectation that is paid voluntarily I have never even received a request for payment and payment invoice. My two sisters even though they don’t earn as much as me are on time with their payments, I have to try do the same.
As for myself since I came to UK to join my wife about twelve years ago I have travelled to Eritrea few times. I had taken from Eritrean embassy the 2% clearance only once. I cannot tell you the reason as it is private however on other occasions I was even too busy to ask the embassy for the 2% clearance. I was never asked to produce it at the border point or at the immigration when I was requesting exit visa.
Just one more thing to tell you, my wife had to show her 2% clearance when she was asking the service of our marriage to take place in Asmara municipality. I did not here her complain about it. As for me I had done my military service until I was released for critical back injury. In fact, looking back I would have found it offending if she had been able to acquire the services for free while I had paid for it, then in Military service.
At the time of writing this essay/article I have decided to be more disciplined with paying the 2% on time as a way of showing support to my comrades, it is the least I could do. While I am suspicious of the motive of IBTimes for spinning the 2% recovery tax for the second time demonstrating their clear agenda. I would like to advice them to look for the news that the Swedish Parliament had actually rejected ban on the Eritrea Diaspora (Recovery) Tax.
Finally we Eritrean believe in coexistence, tolerance, mutual cooperation and free expression but would not tolerate one sided and bias argument the way IBTimes is practicing, however we always want to know the other side of the story as well.
Getting the record straight with the 2% story in UK Reviewed by Admin on 5:24 PM Rating: