The press release from the Ministry of Finance regarding the New Income Act really shows the Government’s state of trying to get this economy to be more self supporting to provide all the public services for the people and for Tonga’s economy’s survival in this pool of Globalisation.
The only problem is, this new Income Tax Act would not work for Tonga but for a more industrialised, free market economy and democratic Government. This current feudal system we have in Tonga does not support the management of these collected Taxes to provide for the people, but a more unaccountable budget that will only support the more wealthy and powerful in Tonga. These new Tax Revenue implementations was to improve the collecting of Tax revenue for a more sufficient way than previous years.
However, it is more like a Rolls Royce Collecting Income Tax system compared to a donkey for the Public service. We have a state of the art Military, Army and Navy with their facilities and yet public services are dragging the chain. It comes down to the management of these so called Income Tax that the people will give part of their income for every dollar to the Government.
I am not saying we should abolish Tax altogether, but to be more realistic to Tonga’s situation at the moment. This New Income Act doesn’t suit Tonga because we are not a developed industrialised nation to make it actually worth collecting these revenues. Tonga does not have natural resources or minerals to the global market, agricultural exports depends on quality and availability of land, which Tonga lacks because the whole of Tonga is equivalent to a small Asian farmer who sells pumpkins or rice to the export market, the fishing exports are hampered by illegal fishing and over fishing risks where Tonga’s navy could not patrol the waters of Tonga and try and stop these illegal activities, so Tonga is pretty much pushed to the corner in regards to commercialised economy.
However, our impoverished Kingdom is actually a jewel in the Pacific. The answer to get Tonga’s economy to match Australia or New Zealand would be in Telecommunications or more interesting is the INTERNET AGE. There is two private companies that have found Gold in the Pacific through Tonga and have profits to, possibly, prop up Tonga’s ailing economy. A virtual or space export in Tonga could possibly be more profitable than the old export reliability that Tongans have been pursuing for decades. The Internet or virtual realm has NO LIMITS and BOUNDS, which is the future in Technology. The communication realm or data transfer between large distances is the next best thing, wireless technology is out-running fibre optic technology because of costs and man-time to install fibre optic cables.
But for the moment, overseas Tongans around the world are supporting this economy to the brink of extinction. Remittances are the number one revenue for Tonga’s economy, church donations (misinale) are still on the increase and not decreasing. New massive churhces are being funded by overseas donations which may rival Govenment buildings that are deteriorating over the years. There are more Tongans migrating overseas and sending back money to Tonga than ever before. The estimate of more Tongans living overseas than the combined population in Tonga is more than what we thought it would be. With more Tongans marrying between overseas Tongans and local Tongan or even natives of their adopted country, it has increased exponentially. The next generation of Tongans will be more vocal for what is fair compared to the tradition of being quiet. The exodus of these Tongans has increased more after 16/11 and the knowledge of the political fairness in the respective countries that they are in, gives them understanding of what they have missed out on in Tonga.
This Income Tax Act is a double-edged sword and will put people to wondering, do I really want my money wasted on unaccountable spending or wasteful services that are not used for them but for the wealthy in Tonga. Slowly, it will send a message and resentment to local civil servants or private companies that the Budget that is read out each year is always pushed for the haves but not for them. The gap between these two social classes is increasing, and more and overseas Tongans sending remittances will have the burden to prop up this economy that needs a more modern focus.
ionaxe [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk