We all want to see a different and better Haiti. The Haitian diaspora wants the right to be involved in all internal affairs of the country, including access to run for political offices; however no one from the diaspora has yet to suggest a legalize way to contribute in the rebuilding of the country. This to me shows that everyone is looking after their best interest and not that of the country and the millions living in subhuman conditions.
I would like to suggest that the Haitian government with the collaboration of all its international partners establish a tax system for the Haitian diaspora across the world. While the international community has been pouring its financial resources to our beloved country, there is a lack of organized contribution from the Haitian diaspora to the homeland. Everyone from the UN Special Envoy to Haiti and members of the Haitian diaspora has acknowledged the resources at the disposal of the diaspora community. It is about time that the Haitian government holds the diaspora honest to its offerings.
I would have preferred to suggest that members of the diaspora voluntarily organized themselves and make a monthly or annual donation to a fund dedicated to the rebuilding of their homeland, but in reality I am convinced that this would not happen. Therefore, it is up to the Haitian government, the only entity with the rights to levy its citizens. We are in dire time, and it asks for bold decision-making. If the Haitian diaspora wants representation, they must be willing to accept paying taxes. The only way the government can offer services is through the contribution it collects from the Haitian nationals at home and abroad.
I am sure that many of you might be asking why I would make such a suggestion, when everyone is fully aware of the corruption by our public servants. The idea of a sovereign government collecting taxes from its citizens living abroad is nothing new, but in the case of Haiti there would have to be certain parameters put in place to make sure of the good management of these taxes.
The ideal condition is to establish this special tax solely for the purpose of engaging the Haitian diaspora in the rebuilding of the country. Since the Haitian government is not capable of collecting those taxes from those living abroad on its own, it would make perfect sense to include foreign governments with large pocket of Haitians to assist with the implementation of such a program. This could also force the Haitian government to require every Haitian citizen living abroad to register with the Haitian Embassy in their host country. There would have to be a great emphasis on transparency for this to work.
The only reason that I am even considering such a suggestion is because one, the Haitian diaspora has been very vocal in asking for their rights as full citizens or at least to be granted dual-citizenship and second since after the earthquake many in the diaspora have expressed their will to contribute, but just don’t know how. The establishment of a tax system for them would help answer those two major concerns. If we want to have representation, we must be willing to accept taxation. After all, Haiti needs the participation of all its citizens today more than ever.
How much money can be generated with a simple 1% tax on all Haitian nationals across the world? It is said that there are close to 1.5 million Haitian nationals living outside of Haiti. Based on data from Canada statistics and the Edisson/Little River Neighborhood Planning program of Little Miami, the median Haitian household income was $20,000 in Canada in 2000, and just under $15,000 in Little Miami 13 years ago. According to these data, with a 2% annual increase in net income, we can safely assume a median household income for all Haitian diaspora in Canada and the United States at around $25,000 in 2009. The potential of a 1% income tax on all Haitian diaspora could raise up $100 million per year, which would give the Haitian government a valuable asset to provide basic social services to those less privileged back home.
The main idea here is for us in the diaspora to find a way to legally and efficiently contribute our financial support to the building of a new state. It is great that we want to be more involved in the internal affairs and decision-making of our country, but we must first start by setting an example as to what citizenship really means. It is not enough to ask for our civil rights, but we must be willing to exercise our civic duty, and paying taxes to a country that is financially crippled could go a long way at stimulating its economy and along the way providing us with the ammunition towards a long path to full-citizenship.
I am a believer that Haiti will only go as far as all Haitians are willing to take it. Instead of everyone always wanting something from the state, it would be great if some of us were that eager to give back to the state. Everything being equal, all Haitians would be required to participate to the same extent in all efforts to create a dignified state for all to live in liberty and with access to the basics of life, but conditions are uneven, therefore it is the civic duty of those at the pinnacle of society to contribute in initiatives that could lead to the amelioration of those at the bottom.
At this point in time the cry should not be representation without taxation, but rather redistribution of wealth to bring all Haitian citizens to the same standards of living. For us in the diaspora, we must do our part in contributing to the social budget of our country. This should be our new pact with the motherland.