Kathmandu Metropolitan City is using music and dance to caution tax defaultersSeventy-five businesses and entities owe the City Rs 600 million in taxes, say officials.
Unable to recover tax dues from businesses and entities in the Capital, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has launched an ‘innovative approach’ to make them fall in line.
City officials on Wednesday went around the Capital with a troupe of musicians playing the panche baja, a set of traditional Nepali musical instruments, and a group of City Police personnel with a bullhorn to remind the defaulters to pay their taxes. All musicians were women who wore sashes bearing messages urging payment of taxes on time.
“We have employed this innovative method to make people aware of their tax obligations,” said Shiva Raj Adhikari, chief of the City’s revenue department.
In July-end, the City office had announced to padlock the offices of 23 tax defaulters that included hospitals and organisations among others.
“The City office had earlier mobilised City Police with bullhorns in its attempt to collect the taxes but that was not effective, hence this musical method,” said Adhikari.
On Wednesday, the City office team visited the offices of five tax defaulters — Kantipur Hotel at ward 1, Hotel Platinum at Soalteemode, WhiteField School, RB Complex, and Kesha Properties and Ranjana Trade Centre at New Road.
The troupe sang and danced and pasted tax notices at the offices warning them to pay the dues within a week or face legal action.
“Our new approach has made its impact as 20 of the defaulters have promised to clear the tax dues,” said Adhikari.
Khim Lal Devkota, fiscal federalism and local government analyst, who has long been criticising the local bodies for tax-related corruption and their inability to collect taxes, said he is still not convinced that the new approach will really work.
“They should have started a tax collection drive much earlier,” said Devkota. “But I see the City is strict only on small businesses and spares the big ones. I hope they do not settle the tax liabilities of big defaulters secretly,” he added.
Adhikari of the City office, however, claimed that they will work transparently on tax issues and do not discriminate between small and big businesses.
He said if the defaulters did not clear the taxes by September 9 then the City office would take action as per the Local Government Operation Act 2017 and other prevailing laws.
Earlier, in June, the City office had made public the names of 23 businesses and entities as tax defaulters. They included Chirayu Hospital, Kantipur Dental Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Shaheed Memorial Hospital, National Hospital, Manmohan Hospital, New Road Team, United Trade Centre, Buddhabai Complex, Bagmati Chamber, Kathmandu Engineering College, Nepal Tuberculosis Centre, Nepal Red Cross Society, Aadhar Complex, Agriculture Inputs Company Ltd, RB Complex, Suraj Arcade, Manmohan Memorial College, Shubhashree Cooperatives, Kathmandu Plaza, Nepal Share Market Complex, Gopalji Properties and Star Mall.
Later, on August 8, the City’s revenue department had made public the names of 52 other tax defaulters giving them a month, until September first week, to clear the dues.
Out of the 75 businesses and entities whose names were made public, ten have paid some of the tax dues. The City office said it collected a total of Rs 24.9 million from them. According to the revenue department of the City office, the 75 businesses and entities owe around Rs 600 million in taxes.