Yesterday, the National Assembly passed the Sales Tax, Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, and the Public Finance (Amendment) Bill. The two of us in the opposition party had argued that the bills would violate the Constitution, and, in the end, only the two of us voted against the bills.
The two amendments could allow the government to impose and raise taxes without having to seek the Parliament’s approval.
The bills will now be forwarded to the National Council, who will discuss them in the next session. If they pass the bills, the amendments will come into effect. If not, the bills will be submitted to a joint sitting of the Parliament.
Now here’s the strange part: the government’s legislative maneuvering is totally redundant.
Why? Because the Supreme Court will soon consider the first constitutional case, and rule whether or not the Constitution permits the government to impose taxes without fist passing it through the Parliament.
If the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution does, indeed, empower the government to impose and revise taxes without the Parliament’s approval, it would have been unnecessary to amend the existing laws in such a hurry.
But if the Supreme Court rules that, according to the Constitution, the government must seek Parliament’s approval before imposing and revising taxes, the amendments that the National Assembly passed yesterday would automatically become null and void.
The Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution and the final authority on its interpretation. We should have let them do their job, instead of jumping the gun, and becoming redundant.