Valley

New bill to tighten noose on government staff causing revenue loss

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

May 12, 2019-

The government has registered a bill in Parliament with provisions to immediately suspend civil servants if they are found to be colluding with businessmen to cause revenue losses for the state.

A bill to amend the Revenue Leakage (Investigation and Control) Act, registered at the Parliamentary Secretariat last week, says a government employee, who is taken into the custody of the Department of Revenue Investigation for probe into revenue leakage, would be automatically suspended until their release.

The suspension would also continue if the department registers a case against such a employee in court.

The existing laws on controlling revenue leakages largely offer impunity for the government employees helping businesspersons evade taxes. Even if a case is filed against any public official on the charge of abetting tax evaders, there is no suspension.

“Traders can’t evade tax without support from government employees,” said Dirgha Raj Mainali, director general at the department. “The provision of automatic suspension will discourage them to work with tax evaders.”

“Only when the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority files a corruption case against such employees are they suspended,” said Mainali.

Under the existing Revenue Leakage (Investigation and Control) Act, only businessmen face action for revenue leakages.

The business fraternity has welcomed the provision of the bill saying that both the government employee in question and businessmen should face the penalty because revenue leakages take place due to their dishonesty.

“Currently, there is a trend of one government entity allowing goods to pass in collusion while another authority takes action only against businessmen,” said Parshuram Dahal, chairperson of the Tax Revenue Committee at the Nepal Chamber of Commerce. “We had long demanded that both the government employees and traders must be held accountable in revenue dodging cases.”

The bill has a provision that authorises the department to suspend government employees before a case is filed. It could also recommend suspension of the government employee involved in revenue leakage through the Prime Minister’s Office if the department feels that s/he could destroy the evidence against him or her and obstruct the course of investigation.

In addition, the bill provisions action against investigating officers who deliberately bother people involved in business transactions or helping people dodge the revenue to fulfil personal benefits.

Such investigation officer would face departmental action while those bothered by miscreant officers would be entitled to get compensation as per the law, according to the bill.

The bill also provisions different penalties based on the degree of offence, unlike the existing provisions which do not determine the degree of offence.

As per the provision, the jail term of revenue dodger has been proposed to range from six months to five years based on the volume of revenue leakage. The fine has also been proposed from 100 percent to 200 percent. But, as per the existing laws, the guilty would have to serve a jail term up to three years. They would also be slapped a fine up to 200 percent without specifying the degree of offence.

The new bill has proposed a jail term of up to six months for revenue leakages below Rs5 million while the prison sentence has been proposed from six months to a year if the leakage totals up to Rs10 million.

For revenue leakage between Rs10 million and Rs30 million, the proposed prison sentence ranges from one to three years. The guilty would have to serve a jail term from three years to five years in revenue leakages of over Rs30 million.

The bill also proposes tasking the department with probing revenue leakages at the provincial and local levels until the provincial governments form their own institutions to tackle the problem.

Published: 12-05-2019 06:55

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