Editorial

When silence means assent

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/29/2019 11:53:46 AM IST

 The thin dividing line between illegal collection and extortion has but disappeared in the light of everybody : state or non-state actors, legal or illegal , constitutional government or parallel governments etc dipping their hands into the pockets of truck drivers, traders and workers which are being carried out blatantly in Nagaland. The ACAUT Nagaland had given a platform for the groaning public which was acted upon by the Public Action Committee (PAC) of the Naga Council Dimapur through its recently concluded drive against illegal, unabated and multiple taxations at check gates in Dimapur. In the week-long drive against illegal taxations at check gates in Dimapur beginning from September 16 last, many skeletons came tumbling out of the cupboard. While some government agencies such as forest and geology & mining were collecting multiple taxes on the same items under ‘royalty’; the municipal council and veterinary & animal husbandry were also collecting multiple taxes on livestock etc. Several unions and organisations were also collecting taxes under the guise of ‘membership fees’ at check gates. Dimapur is also the golden goose for over half a dozen parallel governments, collecting huge amount under various tax heads. Much has been reported, written and commented over Nagaland’s thriving and growing extortion industry and if anything, it will continue to thrive at the expense of the people and their economy. The efforts of volunteers of tribe-affiliates of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) who carried out the week-long drive against illegal collections is laudable even if too much needs to be done to rid Naga society of this menace. So far, the state government has yet to come out with a public statement on whether it is concerned with the menace as ventilated by public through several rallies in the past including the evidence of illegal and multiple collections provided by the PAC volunteers. In this regard, it may be pertinent to recall that the state government has yet to make known on what it proposes to do with the report of the High Power Committee (HPC) headed by retired Justice H.K.Sema submitted to the government in October 2014. The committee was constituted on the basis of a demand by ACAUT Nagaland to go into the entire gamut of unabated taxation which has been plaguing Nagaland for decades. The state chief secretary had issued a ban on all such collections in 2009 which was repeated by another order in 2012. The Gauhati High Court had also banned such collections in 2014. Regrettably, state politicians had the insensitivity to even term such activities being carried out by some groups, as “politically related” and therefore, not a crime or law and order issue. After the PAC drive, the Nagaland Timbre Trade Union (NTTU) came out with an allegation that the forest department has stopped issuing Transit Pass (TP) since the past three years which has opened the way for unauthorised TP tax collected by police, taxes department, municipality. Even the municipality in Dimapur has been slammed for leasing out tax collection and this has only paved the way for undesirable consequences and providing legitimacy to those agents to expand collections beyond. The issue of  tax involves at least two dimensions- tax itself and prices. Unabated and multiple taxation has pushed up prices while syndication of dealership has led to monopoly at the expense of quality. The ball is in the government’s court and public should insist that they expect that the promise of governance is delivered.  

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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