The US President doesn’t believe in Global Warming even though his country had disastrous forest fires recently. A recent supposition is that the fires may have been caused by electric transmission lines going through the forest. Leaving that aside, we in Kathmandu are going through a very cold winter spell in which it is also becoming very difficult for valley dwellers to breathe. A local vernacular daily quoted the World Health Organisation, which had recently stated that as many as ten thousand Nepalis die every year as a result of environmental pollution. What is surprising is that our overall two-thirds majority government is not doing anything about it. It is not for lack of monetary resources. The hidden truth is that since 2066 BS there has been a levy of fifty pice per every litre of petrol or diesel sold to the consumers. Whilst an amount of Rupees 36 Crores and 16 was collected the first year, the sum that has accrued to date stands at Rupees Five Aarabs, presently lying in the government’s coffers unutilised!
After becoming US President, Donald Trump started sending feelers for talk with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who he at one time referred to derogatorily as ‘the Little Rocket Man’. We in this country of ours do not have to look far for similar individuals, who may be referred to as ‘Racket Men’. In fact such persons abound all over the country.
Even during the Old Panchayat Days we had such individuals. A Communications Minister then, who is probably still active, tried then to tax the Nepalis who had massive, ugly, crudely locally manufactured satellite antennas on their roof tops. The fact that locals in their ingenuity had availed of existing facilities scattered in the cosmos by US concerns did not matter, the primary objective being that Nepali citizens must be made to pay for it!
The commercial banks in Nepal had announced that they would be willing to pay up to 13% on fixed deposits. The spread i.e. the difference they charge for loans and the interest that they give for deposits should not large. The reality is that all banks are run by humans and have also failed in different parts of the world. The German Deutsche Bank and the US Goldman Sachs are currently in difficulties. Why should not the Nepali banks be allowed to take initiatives? However the high ups at the Nepal Rastra Bank could not take the side of the Nepali citizen and have announced that nothing in excess of 9.25% can be paid to the depositors!
Another existing practice of contractors for the building of roads and bridges is to avail of money from the government and not do the work. It is alleged that some have taken the final payment even
when the work is unfinished! Generally contractors pass on the work on and on so that last undertaker can never complete the work. Such contractors, albeit with differing political backgrounds or backing, doing such practices cannot be touched. If action is begun the process soon grinds to halt because of a stay order. Such is life.
We pay local taxes or rates to local authorities for the taking of domestic garbage to the landfills but this is not being done. The question of which land fill to use and what to pay to the community there for the pollution that is dumped in their area, is an eternal question to which there seems to be no answer.
Those of us in government or non-governmental services all pay tax on our incomes. This is cut from our remunerations. It is just pay and more pay, not only when we buy goods at the shops but also after eating food at the cafes. The government’s appetite seems never to be enough! However one good act of the government is that the 5% Health Tax has been scrapped after much effort by those providing health services to the public.
There was even a cartoon the other day in a paper depicting an ‘official’ preventing a new bridegroom from entering the bridal chamber without paying the Marriage Tax!
Now the government is on an expenditure exercise, and contemplating buying a fleet of cars plus helicopter for presidential use. Is this to copy what the US President does with his Air Force One plane or helicopter that can land in the premises of the White House in Washington? This seems to be in the offing for the recently bought helicopter for presidential use in Nepal is also to ferry women in the throes of labour from different parts of Nepal to the maternity hospital which is nearby. However, rather than using that helicopter it would have been more economical to buy several Ehang (Flying Taxis) from China for our new royals.
That rackets are going on ‘here, there and everywhere’ is well exemplified by the fact that almost all cell phone facilities are owned by politicians and the norm for business is that no taxes are ever to be paid.
All that the government is trying to do seems to be enforcing or thinking up new taxes on the population at large so that the officials at the local, provincial and federal levels can be supplied with mobile phones, motor cycles and vehicles to go around their areas of over lordship. The reality according to a Kathmandu daily of 26th December is that the entrepreneurs or mobile service providers of Nepal have to pay as much as Rupees three Aarabs in back taxes to the government!
Lastly on the list of tax evaders are the Casino operators of hotels in different parts of Nepal. They too, previously or even now have not been paying taxes. Such is the norm of life for the wheelers and dealers amongst our high flying executives with political support.