Opportunity lost  

Mahmudur Rahman   | Published: November 26, 2018 22:32:05 | Updated: November 27, 2018 21:32:47


It has to be said that amid the chortling rumbustiousness of glee the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has just missed a one-off opportunity to add to their tax-payer list. For all the political statements Members of Parliament (MPs) with a few notable exceptions, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister among them, never made their income tax statements public. Yet these are the same individuals that pass budgets and fiscal policy year on year imposing taxes and agreeing to fines and such. Roughly twelve-odd thousand individuals forked out somewhere in the range of thirty thousand Taka each for the nomination forms. Given that these are non-refundable, only a fraction of these will gain nominations and thereby value for their money notwithstanding the privileges that come with MP-ship if elected.

Had a simple IT (income tax) submission been made mandatory, a smooth amount would have been raked in by the authorities. That that didn't happen contributes to more than spilt milk. It does the democratic process no service whatsoever. These are the individuals who are allowed from time to time to import tax-free gas-guzzling vehicles that are costly on their own and the money to buy them has to have had come from known source of income. But that may be too much to ask in a society where some are more equal than others.

The NBR has to be credited for smoothening the tax payment process resulting in record income tax being paid from the tax fairs. Also credible is that the fairs were extended in parts to upazillas. It's a pity it wasn't extended country-wide because purchasing power indicators suggest more people can now pay their taxes. Unfortunately there's a red line somewhere that can't be crossed similar to the red line preventing loan defaulting Members of Parliament from being disbarred. One or two names have done the rounds. Others may fall under the anvil of being 'isolated' from the people but then with electorate 'demanding' they want local-friendly representatives, what will happen to the nearly sixty per cent of businessmen-MPs is anybody's guess.

The rich donate to political parties to limit the amount they can be fleeced. In return they expect favourable business policies. Businessmen elected seek further limits to the multiple demands on their wealth. As for the less well-to-do Parliamentarians, they're becoming a woeful minority.

The tide has to turn at one stage; the question is when? Just as wealth has to be equitably distributed so must taxes. Robbing the rich to feed the poor was a popular concept at one stage. But as awareness grows, so does apathy.

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

 

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