--BY MADAN LAMSAL
After years of exercise, India finally implemented the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1, this year. That too by amending its constitution in the middle of the night! Those who think that the issue of constitution amendment crops up in Nepal only now know that it happens in India as well. In Nepal, almost all big decisions are taken in the middle of the night. It seems the Indians have learnt from the Nepali parliament. Although, we shouldn’t forget, either, that India became independent in the middle of the night!
While thinking what this GST was, I wondered if it was Grand Sales Tax. However, after some time, it slowly dawned on me that it was exactly the same as the Value Added Tax or VAT which has been implemented in Nepal for many years! Here, India has taken its cue from Nepal and instead called it GST because calling it VAT would mean India admitting it learnt something from Nepal. Why would massive India admit that it learnt anything from a country as small as Nepal?
India did not implement GST all of a sudden; it took its time, a long time, before going for it. But what is more astonishing is the amount of unpreparedness shown by the Nepali bureaucrats and ministers who run around and duck under the covers as soon as it rains in New Delhi! Only once GST was implemented in India, did the Nepali authorities formally form a taskforce to study the impacts of Indian GST on Nepal. But they did not deem it necessary to include private sector entrepreneurs, who are going to be impacted the most by the Indian GST. Because they did not think at all beyond its impact on the government's own revenue collection. Nothing strange from people who rarely think about anything other than depositing money- into state coffers or their own bank accounts!
However, our private sector actors, including the big business chambers, cannot go blameless. They did blame the government for doing nothing in time but didn't seem to think that they, too, have a responsibility. Were they just waiting for the government to do something about it? Or did they just sit back and ignore it thinking that the Indian GST would hardly make any difference in Nepal? Maybe the government will reveal its impact and effects in the next few years. However, news reports say that the number of restaurant goers in India has drastically decreased after the implementation of GST.
Truthfully speaking, Nepal has hardly anything to learn from India regarding the GST because Nepal is already known in the world for successfully implementing VAT, the Nepali GST! Thus, there are some experts who say India can instead learn a lot more from Nepal. We have to believe what they say. For there are indeed examples of India learning from Nepal. For example, India learnt about the Lawmakers Development Fund from Nepal and implemented it later.
Again, India can learn more from Nepal. In Nepal, political parties which are poles apart in ideology and conviction can come together to form governments! For example, the erstwhile and present Nepali Congress-Maoist government. Or the UML-RPP government. Now there are talks about an alliance being formed between the UML and the RJPN!
Such things haven't taken place in India. Can India learn from Nepal and form a united Congress-BJP government?! Or a BJP-Maoist government?! Possible? It is possible. There is still time. Hope India will continue to learn from Nepal!
In India, Bachelor's degree holders are the CEOs at big banks and insurance companies whose annual transactions run into multi-billions of rupees. But in Nepal, the Insurance Board issued a circular two years ago ruling that the CEO of an insurance company must be nothing less than a Master's degree holder. In fact, experience counts for nothing here. Based on this, we can now tell Indians to learn from Nepal quickly and appoint only those with an MA or MBA degree as CEOs so that they can become economically prosperous just like us.
But again, can we beat the Indians in an argument if they instead tell us: "Bachelor's degree holders can easily do in India what Master's degree holders cannot do in Nepal!" Then we will be left speechless.