Protesters call on PM to collect capital gains tax

  • ncell buyout deal
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 22, 2017-

The Public Enterprises Employees’ Association of Nepal (PEEAN) held a protest programme at Maitighar Mandala demanding that the government collect capital gains tax on the sale of telecom giant Ncell at the earliest.

The demonstrators called on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to tax the $1.4-billion buyout deal. Around 400 government staffers associated with PEEAN gathered with banners and placards and encircled Maitighar Mandala. 

Speaking at the programme, PEEAN President Govinda Prasad Poudyal expressed concern over the delay in clarifying the capital gains tax issue. He added that discussions on the subject of capital gains tax in the Cabinet and attempts to levy tax on the seller TeliaSonera, which has already left the country, had drawn PEEAN’s attention. 

The association has threatened to take stern steps if the government failed to take timely measures to collect capital gains tax. Ideologically aligned to the main opposition party the CPN-UML, the association also questioned the intention of tax authorities in the Ncell fiasco. 

“The intention of tax authorities seems to be questionable,” Poudyal said, adding that they had failed to act when Axiata sought an advance ruling regarding the capital gains tax issue before purchasing shares in Ncell.Likewise, the CPN-UML has accused the government of promoting ‘policy corruption’ by taking the controversy surrounding Ncell’s capital gains tax to a Cabinet meeting. 

The UML slammed the government for trying to avoid government procedure by taking the issue directly to the Cabinet in a statement issued after the completion of its Mechi-Mahakali Campaign. 

Though the opposition seems to have taken a strong stand against the government on the capital gains tax issue, Ncell’s shares were transferred from TeliaSonera to Axiata when UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli was heading the government.UML leader Bishnu Poudel was the finance minister in Oli’s administration. At that time, the UML-led government had done little to ensure that the country received capital gains tax from the biggest buyout deal in Nepal’s history.

“We don’t want to discourage foreign investment. Since TeliaSonera has already made its exit from Nepal, the government should collect tax from Ncell,” said Dirga Raj Dhungana, senior vice-president of PEEAN.

He added that since Ncell had earned profits in Nepal from the money spent by the Nepali people, there should be no amnesty on the tax issue.   

In the biggest acquisition deal in Nepali history, Malaysian telecom company Axiata acquired 60.4 percent of Ncell’s shares from TeliaSonera, a telecommunications service provider in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Eurasia and Spain, and another 19.6 percent from SEA Telecom Investments BV, a company owned by Kazakhstan-based Visor.

Published: 22-03-2017 09:53

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