Let the taxpayer ask "Why?"

Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain
Published on: 19th July 2014
"What can you do with one rupee?" I asked. Within ten minutes I got lot of responses with wonderful options. One person said that she would purchase seeds, raise trees and would reap many benefits out of just one rupee. Another person showed to me how he could convert this one rupee into a million rupees through investment in his profitable business venture. Entrepreneurs can create wealth out of money. They spend their money very wisely and carefully to ensure that the money is being used properly. However, in the present times, the government takes away a substantial amount from people in the form of direct and indirect taxes. The issue is whether the government can use this amount better than the common people?

Recently, the head of a country asked for an additional budget of $ 500 million for raising support to Syria in Iraq-Syria war. Whose money was it? It was the money of the common people raised through tax collections. Have the tax payers paid this for war? Are the tax payers keen that this money be spent on weapons rather than on health, education, and basic amenities for the welfare of common people? Do the tax payers have the liberty to ask, argue, debate and oppose the decision? If yes, how can they exercise this option?

It is democratic to oppose a decision. It is also reasonable to discuss and openly criticize a government decision. However, democracy has also created platforms for organising strikes, lockouts, and (un-necessarily) bringing public life to halt. It is not necessary that you should agree to every government decision, but there are ways to raise your voice.
let the taxpayer ask,government
The rates of service tax and VAT have been increased. The railway fare has been increased. The electricity charges have been increased. The price of petrol has been increased quite often. I am not able to understand "Why?" for these decisions. As I witness this, I recall my conversation with Prof. Manubhai Shah. "It was in 1978, that Gujarat Road Transport Corporation raised bus fares. I, along with my friends decided to challenge in the court. We didn't organise any rally or protest march. We didn't make any road jam. We just collected data, analysed them and presented the data about costs, operational efficiency and asked for justification for the rise. I had expertise in law, my friends had expertise in cost accounting and business management, thus we could present a strong argument in the court and the judgement was in our favour." Prof. Manubhai Shah along with his three friends contributed the small amount required for raising this public litigation.

It was a very systematic, well planned and peaceful public protest using the existing law of the land. This was a reflection of a mature and civilised public and a very well coordinated democratic system. Prof. Manubhai Shah had started a new movement - the consumer movement in India. He proved that the insouciant and indifferent consumers could become the empowered people and could teach a lesson to the decision makers. He didn't use slogans, dharnas, Kam-Roko, strikes or other such tools. He used facts, information and publicly available data. He succeeded because he could argue with reason. He established a laboratory to check the quality of products and ask the companies to improve quality on the basis of laboratory report.

Prof. Manubhai Shah started Consumer Education and Research Centre, and in this way he started the consumers' movement in India. The fundamental idea behind the movement was to empower the common consumers and enable them to raise their voice, present data and argue for the rights of the consumers. I now see a need of a similar movement for the tax-payers.
A private organisation tries to reduce operational expenses per consumer year after year and tries to present lower and lower price to the consumer by increasing efficiency and performance. A government organisation should try for this also as it has accountability and responsibility towards general public.

The inefficiency of the government should not be imposed on general public. A full page advertisement by the government departments should also state "who is going to pay for this advertisement?" because most of these advertisements are primarily to help the political leaders and vested interests in raising their public image. In order to present a better public image, one state government introduced about 100 schemes and gave heavy advertisement about those initiatives. I think this is the time that like consumers, the taxpayers should also raise their voice and ask "Who is using/misusing the money that I am paying as tax and what for?"

Money - a remedy, a solution, a hope
For many ailments, aspiration and challenges
Properly utilised - it brings happiness and prosperity
But, alas... - It is a double edge sword...
If not properly used,
It can destroy back and ruin
Some people suffer without money,
But more people suffer due to money,
We have been reigned by money; Now Let's put a rein on the money
Till date, it has been our master; now let us make it our servant
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