Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The common citizens pay taxes to the government for buying every commodity and good from the market. The citizens pay tax for buying petrol/diesel; they pay road tax; they pay fees for trading, industry, driving licences, etc; they pay the government for goods and services (GST, VAT, etc); they pay the government for vehicles (registration, plying licence, fitness/pollution certificates, etc); and the citizens pay for stamp papers. Every time citizens register an affidavit/lease deed/sale deed, they pay the government.
The citizens pay the government for electricity, water, and municipal services. The citizens pay the government for eating in a restaurant, going to a beauty parlour, watching a movie, and flying on a plane. The common men pay for visiting a zoo, visiting a historical centre or a museum. Every time we use credit/debit card we pay the government. There are toll plazas collecting taxes for using various roads and bridges. In fact, citizens are taxed before birth and even after death!
Even for constructing houses, in addition to paying for cement, rods, tin sheets, etc, citizens have to pay for gitti, baalu, stones, etc. These days we have to pay for picnic spots also! The only thing available for free is probably air.
To add to all these, the citizens have to pay for many types of routine forms issued by government offices, like treasury challan, pollution forms, trading licence forms, application forms, etc. The citizens have to pay for ST/PRC forms, school admission forms, etc. Patients pay even for OPD registration at general hospitals. In fact, many officials charge money for putting office seals. The officer signs inside the office, and stamps/seals are put outside the office by the staff, with charges varying from Rs 100 to 200 per stamp/seal.
Regarding medical fitness certificates for driving licence/students, the signature of the doctor may be free, but we have to pay for the stamp/seal at the office!
The other recent phenomenon is the ‘processing fees’ charged in many offices. For most of these ‘almost legalized’ fees, no receipts are provided. These ‘legal fees’ are taken by many officials with a straight face, without any guilt or remorse. It is surprising that the common citizens pay these ‘legal fees’ without opposition. To add to these are the unaccounted charges at various check gates and nakas.
It is estimated that this disruptive parallel economy is worth hundreds of crores of rupees. With this money collected from villagers and the innocent public, the government can finance infrastructure projects like roads, water supply system, school education, healthcare, etc, which are for free.
Should the common citizens pay for routine forms like ST/PRC/OPD registration, etc? Should the common citizens be charged for seals, stamps and signatures? One simple solution may be to fill up all these routine forms online.
Like they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch! The only silver lining seems to be the fact that at least Arunachalees presently do not pay income tax. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)