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What if we stopped paying taxes?

  • Published at 01:19 pm June 11th, 2016
  • Last updated at 12:24 pm June 13th, 2016
What if we stopped paying taxes?

We have seen many movements in the history of our nation, but we have yet to see any movement against paying taxes on the part of those who actually do pay taxes.

Here’s a hypothetical for you: What if there is an all-out movement where everybody just stops paying taxes altogether? What effect will that have on our country’s economy?

The state exchequer is actually in charge of public money stored in its coffers. The public’s hard-earned money is the bloodline and backbone of a country’s economy, and it should be spent or invested with proper evaluation and apt justification. The following are just a few issues, spelt out in brief, which should be taken into account by the government:

1. Mega projects such as Padma Bridge, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Payra Sea Port, large coal-powered energy-generators like Matarbari and Rampal, and the Metro Rail and LNG terminals are being funded with tax-payer money, but those same tax-payers barely get any opportunity to share their own views in any similar government decisions of such magnitude.

2. The Tk300 crore hit on the yearly national budget due to the implementation of 100% increment in the 8th national pay scale could have been discussed with tax-payers, or, at the very least, a referendum could have been placed on it since it is tax-payers who have to shoulder such a financial burden.

3. Some of our state-run banks are reportedly now dependent on tax-payer money -- this is a clear sign of their under-performance, making losses every year, and thus makes a stronger case for their strict supervision and monitoring by the country’s regulatory bank, to exert some much needed pressure on these financial entities and set a standard for them to achieve. Otherwise, what motivation is there for the average tax-payer to keep paying taxes?

Recurring ditch-digging on roads, use of substandard raw material in road construction every year, and carelessness in maintenance of government-issued vehicles, such as BRTC buses, are clear signs of public money being squandered

4. Recurring ditch-digging on roads, use of substandard raw material in road construction every year, incomplete/unfinished bridges, dykes, and culverts, flawed building infrastructure, and carelessness in maintenance of government-issued vehicles, such as BRTC buses, are clear signs of public money being squandered.

5. We know that tax, as noun, means a compulsory contribution to state revenue. But it doesn’t take a financial genius to realise that tax money is not being utilised with the proper evaluation, transparency, and accountability that it deserves. No wonder the majority of our people are hesitant about paying taxes.

6. Under provision of the Basic Necessities Act 15 (a) & (b) in the Constitution of Bangladesh, there is (a) provision for the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care; and (b) the right to work (ie the right to guaranteed employment at a reasonable wage with regard to the quantity and quality of work). Ask yourselves: Are we really getting our fair share of what we are supposed to be provided with, according to our constitutional rights?

7. Despite the prevalence of unemployment in our country, a Tk30,000cr hit on the yearly budget, owing to a 100% increase in the new national pay scale, was approved, paying, seemingly, less attention to the minimisation of the unemployment rate, whereas our constitution talks of guaranteed employment. There is little justification for placing this financial burden on the shoulders of tax-payers when it comes to the issue of unemployment, let alone the unnecessary promotion of bureaucrats increasing that burden on tax-payers.

A democratic country should be democratic in all aspects, not only in terms of how its leaders are elected.

If eradicating corruption and attracting brilliant heads to make the country a better place justifies the 100% increase in the pay scale for some 2 million (if I’m not mistaken) employees -- which, apparently, impacts the majority population of the country adversely as prices of essential items, other commodities, food items, house rent, and cost of living are becoming high every day -- then ours can hardly be called a proper democracy (as if that wasn’t apparent already).

In a nutshell, it has seemingly created a vicious cycle of shoulders being burdened, with the general public on the receiving end -- an increase in pay will require more money from the state exchequer, which will then be in need of more funding and will then be managed by increasing VAT rates and income tax rates, which in turn means that non-government citizens will lose even more money in paying increased VAT rates and so on and so forth.

Yes, the government has the right to utilise public money according to their own decisions, but what does it say about democracy when there is no scope for tax-payers to ask how their money is being handled?

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