Tax re­forms Make it uni­form

Business Bhutan - - Editoria -

“Nar­row­ing the gap” is cer­tainly an ide­al­is­tic con­cept.

And the Prime Min­is­ter de­clared in the cur­rent par­lia­ment ses­sion that the gov­ern­ment does not aim to make ev­ery­one equal but sim­ply nar­row the gap.

This does hold some sense be­cause do­ing away with the gap en­tirely is not pos­si­ble. There will al­ways be haves and have-nots in vary­ing de­grees.

What does not make sense is im­pos­ing taxes on state re­sources and ser­vices that all peo­ple must have ac­cess to like wa­ter, tim­ber, ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices.

These are ameni­ties that are nec­es­sary for ev­ery hu­man be­ing’s health, well­be­ing and even sur­vival, and in­creas­ing or ac­tu­ally im­pos­ing taxes on these can be not only counter-pro­duc­tive but cat­a­strophic.

With this said, in­creas­ing taxes on lux­ury goods and high-end ser­vices comes at a price but it makes sense to rein some of the con­sumerism and greed of the too wealthy con­cen­trated on the top of the eco­nom­i­cal hi­er­ar­chy.

For ex­am­ple, im­ported cars should def­i­nitely be taxed, so should other high-end con­sumer goods. In fact, for ex­am­ple, to take a case study, cars must be scrapped ev­ery five years in Sin­ga­pore so that there is a cap on buy­ing cars and less pol­lu­tion. How­ever, the pub­lic trans­port is so ef­fi­cient that peo­ple hardly feel the pinch of not hav­ing a car.

Other goods that have more ad­verse ef­fects than good on the con­sumer like al­co­hol must also be im­posed heavy tax. Right now, bars and al­co­hol-sell­ing dis­cothe­ques and pubs out­num­ber li­braries and book shops in the coun­try.

Go­ing by sta­tis­tics, al­co­hol is one of the top killers in Bhutan. That is why it is im­por­tant that while the gov­ern­ment aims to nar­row the gap, they rec­og­nize what is detri­men­tal to the holis­tic de­vel­op­ment and well­be­ing of the Bhutanese and the coun­try as a whole and take steps to­ward killing two birds with a stone: do away with things that widen the rich-poor dis­par­ity while also erad­i­cat­ing a lot of un­healthy ap­pendages.

There is a lot of power in lead­ing the sim­ple life and it is good if con­sumerism and ma­te­ri­al­ism are nipped in the bud. We stand to lose the essence of liv­ing a life free of too many un­nec­es­sary wants if we hoard and hoard and do not loosen our hold over pos­ses­sions.

The gov­ern­ment might have con­sid­ered this but it must re­mem­ber where to di­rect its moves and when and how. Care­fully thought out plans and strate­gies will help spear­head its “nar­row­ing the gap” pre­rog­a­tive.

And peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who are well off, must re­mem­ber that though at the be­gin­ning they will feel the pinch, the ini­tia­tives are meant for the greater good.

Hope­fully, the gov­ern­ment will in­sti­tute its plans in the fourth ses­sion of the par­lia­ment as Ly­onch­hen has promised. Tax re­forms are good as long as they make peo­ple re­spon­si­ble spenders and pru­dent stew­ards over their re­sources. It is also good as long as the gov­ern­ment charts out clearly out­lined plans and ac­tu­ally im­ple­ments them, mak­ing no room for loop­holes.

Ex­tra money in the gov­ern­ment cof­fer could al­ways be used for wel­fare schemes and de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties that ben­e­fit ev­ery­body.

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