Taxes, the only certainty this Ugadi

Taxes, the only certainty this Ugadi

Career politicians ride to power by promising sops and their governments then unleash policies of distributing the bounty of the haves among the have-nots. Taxes here not only help run the show, but also enable delivery of services the citizens deserve as a matter of right. But the move adopted by the state government and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to tax nearly everything and hike prices of essential commodities shows administrative and fiscal imprudence.

The biggest blow came from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who criticised the NDA for not passing on benefits of falling crude oil prices, but hiked sales tax on petrol and diesel in his latest budget. The move is bound to have a cascading effect as the transport sector will transfer the burden on the consumer who will be forced to shell out more for essential commodities and travel. The hike in power tariff and incessant power cuts have exposed the government’s hypocrisy. In the run up to the gram panchayat and zilla panchayat elections, the rural areas got uninterrupted power supply for nearly 7-8 hours. Post poll, the supply has plunged to barely 2 hours per day. If hike was aimed at revamping the ailing sector, then the government has not come out with a blueprint. There have been no positive moves on purchasing power from the national grid either. In such a situation, the inference is that the hike is meant to cover the non-plan expenditure, which is a dangerous trend. The Rs 4/litre hike of milk price has made it too costly for the poor.

The BBMP has rubbed salt on wounds. When the revised guidance value is set to make purchasing new properties across the state costlier, the civic body has decided to hike property tax after a gap of eight years. The annual property tax will go up by an average of 20% for residential properties and 25% for commercial properties, but the exact rates will depend on the zone, measurement of the property and the age. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board followed suit and doubled the pro-rata charges for new water supply connections and decided to tax those using water from tubewells. The ruthlessness of the government and civic bodies smack of a “might is right attitude”. The most people can do is to protest, which is usually ignored. The common man has borne the brunt of taxes silently. However, the fact that the net outcome remains unchanged even after complying with the government’s whims is infuriating. If the citizen is duty-bound to pay taxes, isn’t it the government’s duty to fulfil its mandate? This Ugadi will burn common man’s pocket.
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