National Board of Revenue (NBR) a color blind organization.
Tying criminal code with tax code is problematic. However well intentioned those rules are, they usually do not serve the purpose, those usually backfire.
To quote from the following Financial Express news item - "He (the finance adviser) said the government will allow disclosure of all legally earned untaxed income under the existing law provided owners of the same are not facing any criminal charge."
The question that we want to ask is this: If someone is facing criminal charge, can she or he still have legally earned untaxed income? Yes, it is possible that this person have some untaxed income that was legally earned, but not previously declared. If that is the case, then, why would the law that the finance adviser talks about would not be deemed against the basic premise fairness and equality in legal rights?
I know what some of you or even the finance adviser may opine. "Eto kisu kore tu para jabe na" or "Criminal der abar constitutional right ki?" But these type of opinion is not helpful if we are really interested about developing a system that works, rather than being an ideal system. May be we can punish people with that attitude, but in the long run those kinds of law wouldn't pass the test of time. They also do not serve the purpose of building a better future.
One thing that our policy makers and the government agencies do not understand is that being in the position of responsibility - being a part of the government is one of the most difficult thing. If you want to ban something (such as block certain citizens from certain rights under the law), you have to be able to prove those allegations beyond doubt. If you can not ascertain an income as illegal beyond doubt, you have to consider it as legal (even if it might be the case!). Off course, it is also the responsibility of the government to keep investigating so that any illegal things are found. Until and unless that can be done, you have to learn to "let things to go".
Bottomline: Law enforcement have to start with a presumption that a citizen is always innocent until it is proven otherwise in the court of law and his or her assets are all legal until it is proven in the court otherwise. Doing one thing wrong does not prove that the person has done other things wrong. Each of the cases has to be proven separately and the person himself or herself has to be dealt with fairness and respect.
In doing that the authorities will have to let many things go untouched. But if you can catch few percent beyond doubt, that should be your starting point. Build capacity within the system that increases the initial success rate (the small percent) over the years. That way success might be slow, but it will be sure and stable. More importantly, it will not effect the economy adversely or the adverse effect will be much less than positive impact of the activities which wasn't the case during last few months.
A first important step in achieving that economic stability and confidence, NBR has to be made a blind organization. Let other agencies deal with criminal matters, not the NBR. Essentially, NBR is selling a product which is government service. This is a promise of future government service that NBR sells to the citizens - a promise to treat the people with respect and give every possible protection that the citizens needs from the State. Selling of that promise can not be successful unless NBR itself becomes more respectful to the individual rights of the citizens, no matter what kind.
If you thought some of the ideas are worth of your reading time, please forward it to others. If you have an ear to the columinsts in regular traditional media, please forward it to them. If you have an ear to the journalists and news editors of the electronic media, discuss it with them. Hope they would look at the suggestions and give due diligence.
Tags: National , Board , Revenue , Bangladesh
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