An Open Letter to the Chief Minister: When Free Can Be Costly
From Vijay Samant
samant_goa at bsnl.in
I am forwarding herewith copy of my letter dated
April 3, 2012 sent to the Chief Minister. I am
fully aware that many die-hard fans of BJP and
supporters of CM in particular may feel offended by
the tone of my letter which is quite harsh. Yet, I
could not control the urge to pen down the same as
CM needs to be exposed on certains fronts.
I had sent this letter to several local
English-language and Marathi dailies with a request
to publish the same. However no one obliged me.
Only the *Goan Observer* has published it in toto
in their issue of April 14, 2012. I am not at all
surprised because sycophancy and licking the boots
of those in power has touched its peak with the
Goan press under current regime. Tarun Bharat
leads that pack. This is dangerous for democracy.
I have shared this letter with my acquaintanceswith
a purpose of getting their sincere feedback and
* * *
April 3, 2012 By Regd. A.D.
From: Vijay Samant
Behind Shalom Bldg.,
Bastora, St. Cruz Ward.
Bardez. Goa 403507.
The Hon. Chief Minister
Government of Goa
Alto-Porvorim. Goa-403 521.
Subject: Budget proposal
This is in context with above mentioned subject.
I am a permanent resident at above specified address. In my
opinion and limited understanding and interpretation of your
budget proposal concerning 'abolition of house tax for
personal dwelling houses in panchayat area', inherent and
major lacunas or flaws are clearly evident therein which are
bound to cause serious ramifications in years to come. I
hereby wish to draw your kind and immediate attention to the same.
I am unable to fathom or reason out the logic
behind your above proposal. I have been residing
in Bastora Village for last 36 years. This village
is very peaceful, clean, has spacious roads and is
nature-friendly. We have regular and ample water
supply, clean and fresh air, adequate street lights
and excellent gutter network too.
I reside in a self-owned RCC house with a built up area of
180 square metres located on a plot of 520 sq.m. Despite
enjoying all such benefits, I seriously feel guilty and
ashamed of myself on one count! I am levied annual house tax
of only Rs. 25 with no hike for years together.
Individuals like me should have been paying annual house tax
of at least Rs.1500! My mother-in-law who owns a 50 sq.m.
flat in Mapusa pays an annual house tax of Rs. 575 and my
sister who resides in a 112 sq.m. flat at Panjim pays annual
house tax of Rs. 3100.
There are sizeable no. of independent bungalows, mansions,
spacious houses & residential flat complexes located in
Bastora village. Many of these structures are worth in
crores at current market prices. I simply cannot comprehend
logic behind your proposal of abolishing house tax in
panchayat areas. Such a major decision and policy step is
definitely immature, illogical and absurd too.
Why should there be such a huge disparity between
house tax levies in municipal and panchayat areas?.
Instead of introducing substantial hike in house
tax levies in panchayat areas (I am fully aware
that such powers are presently vested with Gram
Sabhas and a suitable amendment or an ordinance to
this effect is urgent need of the hour) and
correcting said policy anomaly of yesteryears, you
have on the contrary added fuel to the fire. I am
really flummoxed with your move and cannot
understand motive behind it. It smells of a
typical populist and cheap policy initiative on
your part which is devoid of basic reasoning and
relevance to ground level reality.
Since hardly any freehold land is available these days in the
Mapusa municipal zone, lot many ownership flat schemes are
increasingly being launched in adjoining villages like
Bastora, Moira, Parra, Assagao etc. Buyers of these flats
belong to middle class category and majority of them own cars
A 2BHK flat of around 90 sq.m. is currently priced around Rs.
32 lakhs. Are these purchasers going to be genuinely
burdened if they are levied house tax of around Rs.1000/year?
Many North Indians and foreigners own palatial bungalows,
holiday homes and Portuguese-style houses in coastal belt
panchayat areas which are equipped with swimming pools,
saunas, DG sets etc. Why should such entities also escape
house tax payment? Kindly enlighten me on this front.
Your proposal besides closing an age old revenue
source for panchayats, will result into other
serious repercussions too. House tax payment
receipt becomes a legal, key and important document
in establishing property bonafides, in litigations,
disputes, mutation cases, mundkarial and tenant
cases etc. In case of partition of a house among
heirs, there is allotment of fresh house number
based on earlier record etc.
I can understand if a bare minimum Rs. 25/- house tax is
levied to those falling in the BPL (below-the-poverty-line)
category but a blanket policy of abolishing the same
irrespective of asset size and one's financial status is
definitely a big blunder. This one particular domain holds
tremendous potential in increasing the tax booty and instead
of putting in serious efforts to tap this avenue, you have
I am utterly disappointed with your party's pre election
manifesto which was full of numerous uncalled for doles and
carrots. You have already begun implementing them with gusto
and fanfare. I find absolutely no difference between you and
the likes of Mamta, Mayawati, Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha who
indulged into similar tactics to grab power.
One needs to keep in mind that Goa enjoys the second highest
per capita income nationwide and the general quality and
standard of life of an average Goan is far more superior
vis-a-vis an average citizen from rest of India. Kautilya's
*Arthasastra* (I am told you are very well versed with it)
preaches that no leniency should be shown in taxing those
citizens who derive benefit from the state and have the
propensity to pay. By becoming a Santa Claus, you have set
dangerous precedent for future governments.
Human beings universally are known to be selfish and ever
greedy. If all the taxes are abolished, even the super rich
will start celebrating. That doesn't imply that a
responsible government goes on obliging each and everyone
just to win their mandate and support and please them.
Being in the opposition and then at the helm of a government
calls for major shift in maturity, responsibility and
accountability. Once the undeserving segment of citizens are
pampered and showered with undesirable doles without them
even asking for them, then the very intentions and integrity
of the government become questionable. Once voters taste
blood it'll be extremely difficult to keep them away from it.
You are currently riding peak of popularity ratings
in Goa and it's a honeymoon period between you,
your party, your government and the voters. My
biggest fear is related to the age old saying
'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts
absolutely'. Hope that historic saying won't come
true with you too. Please don't abuse the powers
vested with you and inflict huge damage to Goans in
the long run.
Those at the helm of power need to be aware that for a large
number of Goan tax payers deriving business income, NRIs,
retired citizens etc., their income tax liability is much
lower vis-a-vis that of the rest of Indians in similar tax
bracket due to special tax benefit provision under the Income
Tax Act. Thus, the purchasing power and savings rate of a
large number of Goans by the above simple yardstick are much
higher as compared to those of fellow Indians. You should
have kept the above reality in mind before formulating your
manifesto. Alas, you failed to do so because you were
focused only on garnering votes by hook or crook and nothing
Goa's current financial position is very precarious. The
Budget deficits and overall state debt have taken a quantum
leap during last few decades. Tax collections have failed to
keep pace with revenue expenditure. Financial discipline is
completely lacking. Wrong priorities and populist measures
have taken centerstage over the years.
Most unfortunately, the Opposition party currently is in
total dire straits and in deep slumber. It is therefore an
ideal scenario for your Government to opt for cheap publicity
stunts and populist measures. By indulging into such acts,
you are inflicting grave damage to the State coffers. I
sincerely hope and pray that you will take into consideration
above facts and seriously review not only your said proposal
but similar other ones too.
Regards and thanking you,
cc. The Hon. Prime Minister
The Hon. Finance Minister
The Hon. Governor
The Hon. Speaker, LA
The Hon. Leader of Opposition, LA
The Hon. Minister for Panchayat Affairs
Hon. Mr. Glen Ticlo-Local MLA
Hon. Chief Secretary
Hon. Secretary, Panchayat Affairs
The Director of Panchayats
The Sarpanch, Village Panchayat of Bastora
The Chairman, Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry