The second Public private dialogue on the issue of motorcycle taxation was organized by Bikalpa as a part of their research effort titled Reforming Market Series. The program was held on 19th of July 2019 at Hotel Namaskar. The participants consisted of stakeholders from the Chief Minister’s office, economic affairs and planning ministry, traffic police office, Morang merchant association, Nepal automobile dealers association, the elite club, motor cycle dealers, entrepreneurs and mediapersons. A total of 23 stakeholders were present at the event.
The program was started with a short presentation on Bikalpa’s research and Advocacy works by Basanta Adhikar. This was followed by a short presentation by Sarwagya Raj Pandey on the research paper “Motorcycle Taxation: Is it luxury or a need?” authored by Roopali Bista. The presentation focused on the role of motorcycle in the Nepali society along with the present status of taxation in Nepal. The presentation also illustrated the hurdles faced by Nepali consumers in procuring the same motorcycle as compared to their Indian counterpart. At the end, the presentation also focused on the possible alternative to the current taxation regime. Following this, the floor was opened for discussion and the participants raised question on various issues ranging from the rationale of such high taxation to its morality from the perspective of social justice.
Mr. Harihar Poudel from the ministry of economic affairs and planning raised the point that Nepal complies with the international norms in such taxation albeit he did agree that such taxation are harsh and hard to reason with. There had been multiple efforts in the past to ease tax burden on basic automobiles but many technicalities prevented such efforts. He also pointed out that covering the rate of accidents due to motorcycle could have improved the research further.
Economist Dr. Bhes Prasad Dhamala stressed that taxes of such proportion on basic amenities like motorcycle can’t be justified and is gross social injustice onto the citizens. He believed that it was high time the ineffective tax regime was reworked to spur economic growth and became clear on what to exempt and on what to tax.
Mr. Sambhu Karki of elite urged the government to not look at the trivial data and only blame the number of accidents but instead urged them to look at the number of casualties, which is much lower. He said that the unplanned infrastructure and lack of proper traffic management were to blame.
Many suggestions came from the various dealers present at the discussion. It was noted by one of the speakers that including ride-sharing platforms like Pathao and tootle could have broadened the scope of the research.
Om Bikram Shrestha from NADA told that it was important to consider rural areas where two-wheelers are the only modes of transportation due to lack of proper public transportation. Many participants also stressed that the government had to focus on building public transportation before levying such tax on a motorcycle.
Mr. Shiva Kumar Pokhrel of traffic police official said that lack of proper planning like selecting parking lots and urban transportation plan had caused traffic congestion. He also told that despite the regulations, the traffic police has understood the plight of motorcycle drivers and allowed them to use it for ferrying goods.