There is hardly a day when the government, through expensive advertisements in the newspapers and on television, is not reminding us all to pay our due taxes on date, pay the advance tax and so on, or suffer the consequences. Then these advertisements also tell us - you and me - that the money is going to be used for national building activities, and that we should be a part of that nation-building.
You and me are also told that the money is used to protect us by ensuring the defence of India. We are made to feel as though we are anti-national if we do-not pay up on time. We are made to feel that the defence of the country may suffer and that we would be responsible for it.
All of the above is correct, and perhaps also, that is what the government is trying to convey about the usage of money so collected, but only to a limited extent.
Yes, it is a fact that the government runs on the basis of taxes received on time and having a healthy treasury. To have a healthy treasury, the tax money so collected is to be used in an efficient and diligent manner. That is the prime condition, if any government wishes to retain the confidence of its people.
Is India's tax money so collected used in an efficient manner? Is there due diligence in managing the affairs of the government and the disbursal of funds? One would expect this to be so? But, it must be stated here emphatically that ever since the then government decided to usher in a "socialist pattern of society", the funds collected by bleeding the taxpayer have been squandered. Basically, the hard-earned money of the needy has gone to feed the unending desires of the greedy.
The government nationalised banks in 1969 with the objective of serving the poor, but in reality, it was aimed at protecting the minority government of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. That government was dependent upon the support of Communists and left-wingers. To protect the then government, not only were banks nationalised, but also, India's economy was moved into "Licence Permit Raj", a system through which nothing could be done without government approval, thus giving unchecked power to a handful of people.
We are told that in the last decade the government, whether run by the Congress or by the BJP, has pumped in 2.6 lakh crores of tax payers money to prop up nationalised banks known as the "White Elephants". This proves that governments have successively failed to keep a sharp eye on the managements of these banks. Political favourites were appointed as directors to boards of management of the banks and the result is there for all of us to see. The politicians, in connivance with their industrial business friends and supporters, have siphoned off huge sums of money, and in the process, ruined India's banks.
In this loot of public money, bank staff have been willing and obliging tools. Yes, they too enriched themselves with their share from the scamsters. No wonder then bank employees unions oppose the denationalisation of these banks! Bank staff are today among the most highly paid employees in India getting far more than what is earned by those who defend us!
Time has come for us, the tax payers, to demand due audit of the kind of management we have of India's treasury.
Will the government tell the people of India as to why are the Members of Parliament getting a hefty sum of Rs. 15000/-per month as telephone allowance when mobile companies are offering data and unlimited calls for as small a sum as Rs. 399/-per month. When taxpayers are asked to surrender anything that has a subsidy element, should not that rule also apply to those who represent the people in Parliament. Sadly, it does not seem to work that way.
Again why do these worthies known as Members of Parliament become eligible for pension by serving only one term of five years when others have to work for their pension for decades? Why should they get a pension? What is the total amount that goes out each year in pensions on this account? This must stop forthwith.
How many companies and so called trusts in India have been given exemption from paying income tax and GST? There is an urgent need for a White Paper on this, for this amount alone, runs into a staggering figure. This is a clear evasion of tax in which the government is a willing party. Some of these companies pay their executives salaries as high as two crores per year, have huge reserves, and yet, the tax payer is bled to fatten them. The trusts undertake strange tours abroad and locally. There is a need for an independent audit of all of these.
The list of utter misuse of taxpayer money is unending. Look at the security cover given to all kinds of people. Why? Cities like the capital of India lack security and traffic management because there are not enough police personnel around. How many of them have been detailed to providing security cover to individuals and politicians. Why should the security cover of politicians be not borne by their own political parties? Yes, it should be the responsibility of the political party to take care of its worthies.
It is high time that the government comes out clean and transparent on this issue of misuse of tax payers money. There is an urgent need for a White Paper on the issues raised above and many more that will come to light when such a document is worked on and made public. It is high time that we as a nation get answers to all this and more. The country has suffered enough and is destined to suffer more when inflation sets in with such blowing up of taxpayers money. Save India and her economy.
The author is the Chairman of Asian News International