Fiscal Incentives: a democracy debate

There is déjà vu in the air.

The ruling government pulled the former to court in 2010 for not abiding by the Supreme Law of the land when it imposed vehicle taxes without seeking the parliament’s approval.

That time, mudslinging and name calling ensued; this time too, we see a repeat. Only this time, a third political party, the Opposition and the National Council have slammed the government on grounds of violating the Constitution when it applied the Fiscal Incentives 2016 retrospectively, again without parliament’s approval.

The Prime Minister defended the move basing it on precedence and law: the government’s interpretation of the first constitutional case’s verdict in 2011. He argued that while only parliament can impose or review taxes, the government can grant fiscal incentives.

Between legal interpretations, verbal scuffles, and muti-way hurling of insults, a detached observer can see that this is just the beginning for a nation that is coming of age in the democratic realm.

It is no surprise that such political bickering starts not very long before the elections. Either the government of the day starts implementing its agenda aggressively finding clever ways to maneuver voters or its opponents are on the lookout for chinks in the government’s armor, so that they can also hedge in. Or it could be a case of both.

We must understand that all this is not going to stop. It might stop for the time being when the parties concerned reach a consensus or opposition is clamped down. Right now, the voices may die. But a sign of a healthy democracy is inadvertently debate and dialogues.

If the debates die, so will democracy. We must try to find solutions but it is always good that a strong government or authority has critics as strong. That is the way forward. That is how we grow.

It does seem chaotic sometimes when we are swept away by a tsunami of debates on political and social issues, especially because we come from a society and regimen that did not speak up to authorities. But our monarchs had the hindsight of understanding the pros and cons of introducing democracy in the country.

They knew the institution of democracy was progressive and if handled wisely, could bring about sweeping reforms and changes that could help the people.

Therefore, while state powers must function optimally; law, policy and decision makers must support, balance and sometimes nullify each other. It all points to a growing democracy.

In the midst of the storm, the people, who are affected by the decisions of an elected few, must exercise their right to take part in the debate. We must be brave enough to speak out. After all, people make up the nation, and we have a responsibility toward it.

To decide for the wellbeing, security, and sovereignty of the country, which has given us much. Because silence can be a sin of omission as action can be by commission.

Political parties, governments, and elected leaders will come and go. Laws might be interpreted subjectively. But the legacy of a strong democratic foundation must be established so that every citizen will exercise fundamental rights and responsibilities for personal, societal and national growth.

Also, while it is good to engage in democratic dialogue, it is always good to think long-term, not short.