Phone users want transparent tax collection system
KABUL (Pajhwok): Some cell phone users say imposing a 10 percent tax on customers is in the interest of the economy, but a transparent system is needed for the collection of such levies.
Others, however, are against the tax, arguing their money will end up in the coffers of powerful politicians and will be spent on their flashy bullet-proof vehicles.
Based on a presidential decree, endorsed by the cabinet, a 10 percent tax was to be imposed on cell phone subscribers. The decision was officially implemented from September 23.
But the Wolesi Jirga on Wednesday called the decree against Article 72 of the constitution and rejected it by a majority vote. The legislative order was issued when the lower house was on its summer recess.
Qais Hassan, the Wolesi Jirga’s telecommunication commission head, said there was no transparency in the collection of the tax.
Article 79 says: “During the recess of lawmakers, the government shall, in case of an immediate need, issue legislative decrees except in matters related to budget and financial affairs. Legislative decrees, after endorsement by the president, shall acquire the force of law.”
Najibullah Fikarman, an official at Maidan Wardak information and culture department, is ready to pay the 10 percent tax but has doubts about the collecting system. “I’m not against the tax, but the problem is that there is no transparent system. I have my doubts about taxes being spent rightly.”
Pervez Mansour, a businessman in Kabul, agrees: “Paying taxes is a necessity and I’m for it but only if there is transparency in the system.”
Khalilullah Raufi, a civil society activist, thinks the presidential decree does not offer elaboration. That is why he supports the Wolesi Jirga’s decision on rejecting it.
He blames the government for having no strong will to combat corruption and render better services to the people. He claims in most instances, public money goes to a few powerful individuals.
Kamran Kawosh, a theater performer in western Herat province, says imposing such taxes is for the overall good of the country. If the government manages to render even minimum services to the people, they would pay taxes with enthusiasm. “If the government can’t do it, these taxes are not for the benefit of the country, but a few individuals.”
Mushtaq Rahimi, a Facebook user, says many people desire a new tax system. Like others, he also backs a transparent regime. He is happy to see how people welcome these taxes.
Mohammad Khalid Ramezi, human rights activist, views the Wolesi Jirga’s decision as damaging the national interest. “Some Wolesi Jirga circles that had no information about law and legislation were behind the rejection of the draft.”
Taxation is the only option for the government to generate revenue and utilise it for improving citizens’ living standards, he reasons. Imposing tax on phone users in the current sensitive situation is a good move to fund government officers’ salaries and budget, he maintains.
“I am ready to pay the 10 percent tax on my telephone services; it would help increase the salaries of our teachers, improve our health sector and help the government stand on its own feed,” he believes.
However, some of the people are against pay the tax.
Najibullah Barakzai, a resident of the fourth police district of Kabul, writes on his Facebook account he does not want to pay the 10 percent tax, believing the money would be used to purchase armoured vehicles and high-cost materials for their personal use.
“I don’t want my money to be used for commemoration of the death anniversary of warlords and murderers, or for installing barriers on roads for warlords’ protection,” Barakzai comments.
He is also against using people’s money to pay hundreds of non-professional government advisors. The countries that tax their citizens purge their administration of corruption and crimes, controls official expanses, he adds.
“Government officials are addicted to using high amounts of money, because they receive large sums from the international community and the United States.
“Now they have fixed their eyes on poor people’s pockets; we have seen the Kabul Bank scandal and several other such scams which are not addressed so far. Our money would be wasted in a similar way,” he fears.
But Deputy Minister Baryalai Hassam says the tax was imposed based on the legislative decree and the law on telecommunication services. The taxation process was coordinated with the Ministry of Finance for ensure technical reasons.
The MCIT is trying to create the Real Time Data Management System and connect it with telecom companies within four months. A temporary system created by the MCIT is currently connected with the government telecom company Salaam.
Connecting the new system with private companies needed political support of people’s representatives and government leaders, Hassam added. The phone tax issue will be discussed in the coming session of the cabinet next Thursday.
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