Totally redundant

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.

 

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  1. The article 14 of the constitution says that “Taxes, fees and other forms of levies shall not be imposed or altered except by law” and in my layman’s understanding, the law refers to relevant acts like public finance act and sales tax, custom and excise act. Constitution doesn’t say whether tax revision should be approved by government or parliament but says that it should follow the law which is being deliberated and passed by the parliament. So I don’t find relation between Supreme Court verdict and amendment. While parliament can amend the acts, supreme Court will interpret constitution and existing laws and pass the verdict unless if Supreme Court choose to interprets the contentious issue of passing budget (whether it should be treated as financial bill or not).

    Now coming to the main issue of whether parliament or government should have final say over tax revisions, I feel that such authority should be given to the government. Especially in view of recent recession, government will need certain authority to react quickly to the financial crises. Also, government should be able to give tax incentives if people are doing some work for socials cause or reconstruction after disaster like flood, fire, earthquake etc. If it has to be passed like any other bill then, tax is a sensitive issue and am sure it will need joint session to pass it, which means it will need at least 3 sessions to approve the tax. So, it should not be treated as bill.

    With regard to parliament, they have authority to summon, question and recommend anything related to governance, development or any government policies. So, if they are not happy with certain tax revision, then they can always question the government and ask for change. Parliament even has an authority to dissolve government or sack ministers. So, taxation authority should rest with government.While we want government to be accountable, gov should also have certain authority on certain issue…

    just my thought!!!

  2. THE New Government is now knee-deep in proposals to reform everything???

    Its clear that higher taxes are coming soon.
    There’s a lot of concern about that? where the nation is mostly dependent on the imported goods.

    after few years of DPT goverment,I fear giving authority to the goverment for this for many reasons. The representatives of the people must think of the gound realities too besides budget deficit etc… It’s going to require different things as our nation has different strengths and weaknesses.
    After all its a done deal!!

  3. INVISIBLE says:

    DANGEROUS PRECEDENTS are being set! A Majority Government is BULLDOZING lawmaking with a herd mentality (it is impossible that not a single MP of ruling party opposes such bulldozing when even in a same family house father and mother could disagree over welfare of their own children).

    A government that can collect taxes, enforce contracts, and protect property rights today also has capacity to expropriate, intimidate, and coerce citizens tomorrow. Majority Government must oblige to control itself. Otherwise, clearly DANGEROUS PRECEDENTS are being set.

    Bhutan is a tiny country with just over half a million people squeezed between 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.2 billion Indian. We cannot afford to act like this, in all honesty.

  4. Exactly my thoughts…
    The voting patterns in the national assembly is beginning to concern me. Almost all issues or majority of the acts and bills that were passed had all the ruling party members vote as one and the only two oppositions voting against it.
    I don;t know if the intention is to “bulldoze lawmaking” but it definitely seems like the 45 members of the ruling party do agree with one another, which is quite impossible in any aituation. Either the 45 members have to think exactly the same way or they don’t have their own opinions. Another reason could also be that they don;t care enough to analyze it…or also they don;t have the skills or professional capacity to do so. I can not think of any other reasons for such results.
    I know that the PM had mentioned in an interview that having 45 member of their party in the NA is their biggest weakness but it doesn’t have to be. They don;t have to vote “yes” for every proposals that are put forward by the Ministers or the Prime Minister. They should be allowed to or rather they should analyze the proposals on their own too.
    Our country’s government will be administered within these laws, acts and policies. So its important that the right decisions are made or the next government will propose the need to make their own amendments to suit their purpose. We might want to be mindful of making the “legislative failure” with too many conflicting purposes if MPS understand what that is. that is……

  5. I mean majority of the ruling party…

  6. This is tyranny of majority and indeed not a good precedence set by 1st democratically elected government. Its very disappointing and something to worry about.

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