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WABEAN holds dialogue session on local councils budget & taxation

September 8, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

With support from Christian Aid, through Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), the Western Area Budget Education and Advocacy Network (WABEAN) over the weekend ended a two-day dialogue session at the Western Area Rural District Council hall in Waterloo.

The dialogue was geared towards looking at local councils’ budget and taxation in line with citizens’ participation in the process.

In his welcome address, Jonathan Pearce of WABEAN told participants that taxes grant citizens legitimacy to demand their rights from duty-bearers, adding that through taxation communities will be able to develop and at the same time demand development.

He said local councils were very much important in the area of taxation because development was at the heart of their operations, thus the reason WABEAN was facilitating the dialogue of duty-bearers and rights holders “to discuss the very important subject matter”.

WABEAN Research Coordinator, Abdulrahman Sesay, urged participants to take the session very serious as the discussion was predicated on issues that would foster development in their various communities.

He said WABEAN was a community-based organisation which knows the importance of taxes and how they have helped other countries develop, stressing that citizens needed to pay their taxes so as to be able to challenge the authorities on their development aspiration.

He said communities were in dire need of development, while health and sanitation and education remained a challenge in most localities, noting that if such facilities were to be provided then citizens ought to pay the taxes.

According to the Development and Planning Officer of the Western Area Rural District Council, Alhassan Yillah, the role of the council was to provide services to the people and foster development at the local level.

He said the Waterloo community, which is the capital of the Rural District, has no befitting hospital as the only hospital in the entire community has seven beds, which is grossly inadequate for inhabitants.

The amount of people living in Waterloo and other surrounding villages continues to grow in size and population and having only one hospital with seven beds poses a big challenge, he further added.

“This makes taxes more important because the more taxes that are collected the more it will be used to provide these facilities,” he said. “The rural district council is doing all it could but people are still reluctant to pay their taxes.”

Speaking on responsibility, Abu Bakarr Kamara, Coordinator of Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), said the government exists because of the people as they were there to serve the people.

He described the country’s diversity as strength, as all citizens were equal and entitled to be treated the same way, noting that civic responsibility means contributing time, effort and money to help others improve their community life.

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