Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bribe to pay taxes

There's a saying "Kahie Nabhayeko Jatra Hadiguan ma" meaning "It [some event] happens nowhere but here in Hadigaun". Hadigaun is a small town in Nepal. This is taken as a negative connotation and now applied in the context of Nepal. Everything, seemed improbable and unethical, happens here in Nepal.

I went to pay the yearly tax of my bike in the department of transportation. I stood in line (something like drawn by a baby) directly under the heated summer sun. There were two lines and hoards of people. I thought, wouldn't it be easy for people and the civil servants if there were several counters. But no. I was showing some sign of boredom and irritation, with sweat running down my forehead and trickling down to the heated floor and disappeared. Someone might have noticed it and whispered "Rs 200 if you are for yearly tax". What? Now I have to pay to pay. Then someone came over and asked if i came for bike transfer and that would cost Rs 700. That was for the quick service charge and the rate is fixed. I still have to pay around Rs 2000 yearly tax. I was determined not to do that. There had been cases where these middle man gave false receipts and in the end causing the victim to pay more money.

Finally after 45 minutes in queue I reached the window pane where I handed over my blue book (it's the bike ownership pocket size document). He told me to move to the next room window. I was given nothing - not a token of receipt. Later I realized that the people inside the other room would call my name and I would have to push through the crowd to get the document. In the next room I saw four people, one was signing it first and pass to the next person, who would be talking with another person next to him. He was signing it as if they were doing favour to us. Around 20-30 people were clinging to the window, they almost climbed. I was not sure if i would be able to hear my name - which would have to make through the buzz of people. Then this person, wearing jeans and tshirt, would stamp government logo. He would be rocking his chair as if watching some dramatic movie outside. Finally about half an hour later, I was relieved to hear my name. Relaxed. Others were shouting what happened to mine.

It was almost 2pm and there would be no more transactions then. It was clearly printed and nailed in the walls here and there. The extra service people started shouting immediately, "It's 2PM and now there's no point in standing in queue. They won't accept any more. Give it to me. I will have it done". The common man has no choice but heed to the call. I didn't have any more energy to stand there and observe what would happen next. People are openly asking for money to do the service, which would obviously be shared with the civil servants. Indeed, Kahie Nabhayeko Jatra Hadiguan ma.

Standing in the heated sun.

Almost there to hand over my blue book. Took me 45 minutes to reach here from where I began my race.

All the documents submitted to the previous room are brought to this room. I don't have any idea why there are so many people. See that red shirt person, he was rocking his chair and enjoying the show outside. He is the one who stamped on the document and who called the names.

People are flocking to get their blue blue back, signed and stamped. Looks like they are watching over the cage in some zoo.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Failed state?