Sunday, July 8, 2012

'Government cannot tax people in absence of parliament'

The government cannot tax its people a single rupee in the absence of a parliament.
A responsible government, with suggestion from the people's representatives, brings a budget with plans to raise revenues and spend public money to support its priorities to transform policy goals into actions through the budget, according to former secretary Dr Bhola Chalise.
"However, in the absence of a parliament, the government loses its right to tax the people," he said, adding that the norms and values of a democratic society is that the parliament will check and balance the government that might misuse the people's money.
But post-May 27, in the absence of a parliament, there is no legitimate budget oversight agency to check and balance government expenditures, let alone the budget preparations.
However, the government can bring one-third of the current fiscal year's budget as the parliament had approved it last year, added Chalise.
"The policies and programmes that the government brings in the budget without consultation with the people, will not only lose its validity but also fail to address their key problems, he added.
The incumbent caretaker government led by UCPN-Maoist ideologue Dr Baburam Bhattarai — that has already announced elections — is preparing the budget for fiscal year 2012-13.
"But in the absence of public participation through their representatives — parliament — from preparation to the implementation, no one will be responsible for the tax payers' money," according to former chief secretary Dr Bimal Koirala.
The more transparent the budget preparation process is, the less it will be misused and will have more chances of being implemented.
In a democratic society, the budget is prepared through a cycle from formulation — when the executive branch puts together the budget plan
— enactment — when the legislature debates, alters, and approves the budget plan — execution — when the government implements the policies in the budget — and auditing and legislative assessment — when the national audit institution and the legislature account for and assess the expenditures made under the budget but the current government is neither taking the democratic route nor is it responsible to the people and is rather focused on elections.
"If the political parties forge consensus for a national consensus government, it could bring a full-fledged budget as it will have people's representation," he added.
Budget transparency is key also for engagement and accountability, to enhance equity and credibility of policy choices that will improve effectiveness and efficiency of implementation, reduce opportunities for corruption and control wasteful spending. It will help attract investments and reduce the cost of borrowing.
However, in the current transition, when elections have already been announced, there is no legitimate agency that can independently analyse the budget, compare spending and assess how it will address the needs of the society that has been hit hard by the inefficient government, the former bureaucrats said.

No taxation without representation
KATHMANDU: 'No taxation without representation' is a slogan which originates from the 1750s and 1760s that summarised a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution. In short, many in those colonies believed the lack of direct representation in the distant British Parliament was an illegal denial of their rights as Englishmen, and therefore laws taxing the colonists — one of the type of laws that affects the majority of individuals directly — and other laws applying only to the colonies, were unconstitutional. However, during the time of the American Revolution, only one in 20 British citizens had representation in parliament, none of whom were part of the colonies. — Wikipedia

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