Nepal Government Provides Information of VAT Scam

Freedom Forum, Kathmandu (October 30, 2011)

In what could be hailed as a landmark achievement in the Right to Information (RTI) movement in Nepal, the government has been compelled to provide with information about the multibillion Value Added Tax (VAT) scam adhering to the RTI laws.

The Finance Ministry on Sunday submitted the list of tax evaders to the Kathmandu-based Freedom Forum (Chaired by Yaranath Dahal) acting upon the National Information Commission (NIC)'s directive.

The NIC had issued verdict to provide with a photocopy of the VAT evasion study report-2067 BS including its annexes 1, 4 and 7 free of cost by upholding the spirit of the Right to Information (RTI Act-2007 within 15 days on October 27.

The act has clearly established the overriding effect of RTI laws by making all other laws governing VAT and Income Tax nullified, said information requester Dahal, adding that the landmark decision will help promote information culture in Nepal thereby making the public agencies more accountable to people.

The information demonstrated that some 437 reputed industries and enterprises were involved in the VAT scam.

Mr. Dahal had filed an appeal with the NIC in line with the Right to Information (RTI) Regulation-2008 on August 15 2011, citing dissatisfaction over the Finance Ministry's decision of non-disclosure of information on tax evaders.

Through the verdict, the NIC has not only issued directives to the Finance Ministry to uphold the letter and spirit of the RTI as a commitment to promote openness and transparency but also explained the overriding effect of RTI laws on other legal arrangements.

Mr Dahal, as per the Right to Information Act, had filed an application in the Finance Minister on July 10, 2011, seeking detail information the tax evaders and a complete photocopy of a report of a probe committee on VAT evasion but in vain.

After all, the act t has come to protect and promote information culture. Freedom Forum welcomes the move and urges all the information activists and media to march ahead in the greater campaign of RTI in Nepal. (Freedom Forum)

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