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21st-Jul-2015

People don’t pay more taxes for more corruption to flourish

By Editorial Desk

While everyday life is becoming full of uncertainty due to the defunct rule of law, the impunity of law breakers, insecurity, dilapidated roads and highways coupled with tailbacks and embezzlement in the banking sector and rampant corruption, taxation by the government is increasing in all forms. The tax rate and net is being increased  but the people need to know how the money earned through taxation and other means are being spent.
People pay tax to government as the authority provides security, takes steps to make life comfortable and hassle free, and for the fulfillment of fundamental requirements. Pressure on the citizens to pay more tax is increasing, but the taxed money is being squandered on useless projects  not completed and on making more money available for corrupt ones in and around the government. The public servants have ceased to feel that they are public servants, to save their jobs the public servants are forced to conduct themselves more as government servants. The ministers have no reason to be aware of their accountability to the people for the kind of government we have. The recent survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has revealed large social and economic disparities in terms of wealth and access to education among different regions. The government exorbitantly claims that the economic inequality between the rich and poor has been falling since 2010 but the BBS survey belied the claim explicitly. The BBS survey stated that two out of five children under the age of five are stunted and three in every 10 are underweight in the country.  52.8 percent children from the poorest families suffer malnourishment compared to 27 percent from the richest group. On education, the study finds that net attendance of primary school-going kids has dropped among both boys and girls between the year 2006 and 2012-13.
The mammoth budgets after  independence to reduce poverty have been largely gobbled up by politicians and bureaucrats and this has derailed the objectives of the projects of poverty reduction and employment generation -- key indicators of development. The latest slum census which states the number of slums across the country increased to 13,943 from 2,991 in 1997 while the number of slum dwellers has increased to 2,232,114 from 1,391,458 which has challenged the effectiveness of development initiatives taken by the government and NGOs and budgetary allocation for social safety nets. The BBS report mentioned that poverty forced more rural people to migrate to the cities in search of livelihood in the last 17 years and live in horizontally extended shanties in cities. Due to unemployment, extreme poverty and scarcity of basic amenities, while courageous and desperate youths are trying to migrate to other countries ordinary people are migrating to the big cities to make their fortunes.
In the economy, the public banking sector reached a new low in the recent years, as some officials, perhaps having connections to political heavyweights, inappropriately sanctioned loans to some defaulted companies that embezzled millions of public property. Banks see no demand for credit, the basic lifeline for the financial system. Previous loans are turning bad.
Banks may have an insignificant share of 2 percent of GDP, but they virtually support the whole economic chain. If the banking system turns wobbly, the whole economic chain will collapse.
Finance Minister recently admitted that the all pervasive corruption in the government has gobbled as much as Tk 24,735 crore in the recently concluded fiscal year. This shows how widespread and indomitable corruption can be, which costs the economy 2-3 percent every year.
Meanwhile, lawmakers, except those of the city corporation areas, are to get Tk 20 crore each for the development of rural infrastructure in their constituencies. It is yet an another example of the government's misappropriation of public money.
Collecting burdensome taxes from tax-payers by 'strangulating' them, the government has no moral right to allot the public money to buy loyalty for remaining in power. In short the people must not be forced to pay more of their hard earned money for corruption to flourish more.