‘People are paying taxes for chickens and ducks’

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Aug 14, 2018-

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have come together in support of the public, following demonstrations across the country against exorbitant taxation by the local and provincial governments while central taxation is already in place.

The three tiers of government, which came into effect five months ago, have been competing on imposing taxes while citizens in various parts of the country continue to stage hunger strikes and sit-ins against such moves, demanding they revoke the taxes that have been increased several folds.

The debate has now taken a centre stage in the House of Representatives where cross-party lawmakers, including those from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), have asked governments at all levels to come together in resolving the issue.

During a parliament session on Monday, elected officials warned that dissatisfaction among the public would cost federalism dear if the issue of taxation is not addressed on time. The ruling NCP dominates governments at local and provincial levels.

In recent weeks, all 753 local governments have significantly raised taxes on land and business while introducing a new tax regime for smaller incomes and sources of livelihood-all to generate sources of income for the city and the federal provinces.

“Today, people are paying taxes for chickens and ducks. Soon it won’t be surprising if individuals will have to pay for living,” NCP lawmaker Hridayesh Tripathi told the House on Monday. “This is defaming federalism and is a serious issue that has to be addressed before it is too late.”

In the Ratnanagar Municipality in Chitwan, dozens of people began a relay hunger strike on Sunday, demanding revocation of high taxes on lands and businesses. Residents from Gaushala Municipality in Mahottari district have also resorted to picketing before the municipality to protest against the taxes. Two weeks ago, the business community along with the locals in Birgunj took to the streets saying they can no longer afford the exorbitant taxes. The metropolis has raised the land valuation by six folds as a means to levy six times higher taxes while the tax slab on business enterprises has gone up by seven times.

“People are compelled to pay as high as Rs 1,000 for birth and death registration which actually needs to be done for free,” Nepali Congress lawmaker Dila Sangraula said during her speech in the Parliament on Monday. “Even an increment of a single penny needs to be justified.” Sangraula argued that all three tiers of governments are more focused on raising taxes while paying little attention to the public concerns.

Schedule 8 of the Constitution of Nepal authorises local governments to impose taxes on wealth, house rent, land and building registration, motor vehicles, tourism, advertisement, businesses and land revenue. Additionally, Schedule 6 in the constitution gives provincial governments power to charge separate taxes for house and land registration, motor vehicles, entertainment, advertisement, tourism, and agro-income tax among others.

Published: 14-08-2018 07:19

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