The rallying cry in the American war of independence was “No Taxation without representation”, in Somaliland, there is representation but for some there is no taxation. This has to change. For Somaliland to succeed and become a more viable entity its major companies, such as Total, Telesom, Somtel, Dahabshiil, Qarannexpress, Marwel, Indhadheero, Libax and many others have to pay their fair share of taxes and reinvest in the country. Somaliland has yet to receive de-jure recognition; therefore it has to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Every single Somaliland shilling has to go a long way. Taxes enable the government to provide services to the citizens of the country, improve infrastructure and most all help to create employment for the nation´s youth. Not only does the nation stand to benefit from these programmes, so will all the major companies in Somaliland.
Unfortunately, many of these companies refuse to pay their fair share of taxes by stating that Somaliland lacks an auditor general or a general office of accountability, or there is a lack of transparency and so on.
These are all valid points. However, both the Somaliland parliament and the government are attempting to address this situation. In the meantime, the failure of these major companies to pay their fair share of taxes is unacceptable when one takes into consideration the amount of sacrifice the people of Somaliland, both at home and abroad, are willing to make for their country.
Donations to charities, holding lotteries and assisting grassroots projects are all well and good, but these are only stop gaps, and the central government´s ability to raise funds through fair taxation and implement national programmes is essential to the nation´s development. After all if ordinary Somaliland businessmen and businesswomen are already paying their fair share of taxes, what is the excuse of these large companies?
Somaliland´s nascent business arena can be divided into two sectors, companies who provide goods and those who provide services.
Somaliland companies in the goods sector generate most of the daily business activities in the country, provide most of the employment and subsequently generate most of the revenue. Their overheads are quite high and a substantial amount of their capital is invested in Somaliland. However, they are still not paying their faire share of taxes. Why? A lack of political will? A lack of patriotism? Somalilanders must form their own judgement.
The companies in the services sector, for example communications and remittances, are even worse culprits. They provide fewer employment opportunities; do not provide any tangible goods. They have lower margins of cost and most of their capital is overseas. These companies are also not paying their fair share of taxes, and tend to bridle at any suggestions that they do so. In the case of one company, they would rather, allegedly, take their profits and sponsor meetings for some of Somaliland´s most implacable political foes!
It is about time that Somaliland´s political parties made the issue of taxation a central part of the election platform and subsequently implement major reform in this sector to benefit both the nation and its business community.
Action is needed on this issue. The time for excuses is over. The people of Somaliland, both at home and abroad, make enormous sacrifices to make the country succeed, and it is galling to see our successful companies shirk their civil duties.