A Social Menace!

Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – 2nd YEAR NO. 23 – SATURDAY 15th January 1955

TAX EVASION

To supplement our article, “Why a Fiscal Committee?” of last week, a good friend has kindly accepted to contribute this article. As an economist, accountant and ex-Civil Servant he has a good knowledge of local taxation and tax dodging too. We commend this article to the Members of the Fiscal Committee for their consideration.

It will be a pleasure for us to publish the informed views of our readers on the various aspects of our fiscal system – fresh sources of tax dodging, etc. We need several millions more for our social services and must find them.

We believe there are millions of rupees unearned income which have not been taxed and which are finding their way stealthily into private pockets. — Editor

TAX evasion is nothing more than the willful and deliberate, hence premeditated, disregard of one’s financial obligations towards Government. Our definition is sheer euphemism; for, in truth, tax evasion is simply, in the moral or legal setting, genuine fraud, or to put it bluntly: highway robbery!

And strange enough that form of robbery is not frowned upon by Government, as, say, the robbery of a tin of corned beef… For, pretty often, the man who pinches the tin of corned beef will get three months’ hard labour – whereas the man who defrauds the Income Tax Commissioner will simply get a polite letter, inviting him – the culprit naturally – to explain this or that! That is what you call democracy… well, that’s by the way…

In our little paradise which is Mauritius, day by day, we come across scores of people who buy, sell cars, moveables, immoveable properties, organise concerts or fancy-fairs ‘pour une bonne oeuvre’ — naturally – and who naturally never pay a single cent by way of tax!

Others are at the head of important colleges where illegal receipts are issued, under the very nose of the public and Government – the amount paid is not written at all on the receipt delivered — in England or in Communist Russia, that man would have gone straight into gaol – so that on the counterfoil slip any amount can be written… what a farce!

Is Mr Hurd aware of such scandals – if need be, we would be very glad to contact the Income Tax Commissioner to talk at length on such vital issues which are bound in the long run to undermine the very fabric of our economic existence.

What about builders, landlords, who claim Rs 100, Rs 125 or Rs 150, for small flats of 3-4 rooms, against receipts for Rs 70, Rs 80 or Rs 100!

What about teachers who coach 40, 50, 60 pupils; teachers who earn four-figure cheques, like many other people who always manage to get through the Income Tax net, and who never dream of squaring accounts with Government?…

We feel certain that millions of rupees are being daily scattered, invested overseas, buried deep into the ground, by many people who as yet have never been squeezed by the Income Tax Commissioner… Of late, a Committee has been set up, apparently for a thorough overhaul of the whole system of taxation in Mauritius – this is definitely a very healthy omen in an island which is in sore need of hospitals, specialists, colleges, teachers, cheap houses, etc., etc.

We are all for a more rigid policy in fiscal matters: we think that all people who live in concrete flats, people who have fat bank accounts, people who daily travel by cars or vans, directors of colleges, shopkeepers, organizers of fancy fairs, etc., etc, should have their accounts properly checked and scrutinised by the Income Tax people.

Today we feel that the Canons of Taxation as delineated by Adam Smith are quite obsolete: we want an iron-clad policy to beat the whole gang of tax-dodgers; millions of rupees, Mr Hurd, are lying idle in various corners in the island. When will you smash the whole racket?…

ECON II

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News & Views

— by TITAN

New Constitution for West Indies

During its term of office the Conservative Govt. has given more constitutional responsibilities to the people of 19 colonies, and in a very near future the Leeward and Winward Islands will have their turn. The Mauritians too are contemplating some progressive changes in their present Constitution and they have good reasons to believe that in spite of the reactionaries, the British Govt. will not frustrate their legitimate aspirations.

The present Constitution of the Leeward Islands – a group of islands in the West Indies – was granted in 1871 and was amended in 1951 when adult suffrage was introduced. There are 13 elected members, eight official and two nominated members in the Legislative Council.

Each of the Windward Islands – also in the West Indies – has its own institutions; there is no common legislative laws, revenue on tariff, but the colonies unite for certain other purposes. In 1951 adult suffrage was introduced.

Ministerial systems proposed

What follows is a condensation of an article (Weekly Times of 6.01.55), on the proposed constitutional changes to be brought about in Leeward and Windward Islands.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies has approved in principle proposals for new Constitutions, including ministerial systems in Leeward and Windward Islands.

The Executive Council will be the principal instrument of policy and the Governor or Administrator will normally accept the advice of the Council unless he deems it expedient to do otherwise in the interest of public faith, public order or good government.

The Executive Council will include the Governor or Administrator as president, the Crown Attorney, the Financial Secretary, one nominated Member of the Legislative Council, to be appointed by the Governor, and four elected members of the council, to be elected by the unofficial Members.

The president will have a casting vote only. Elected Members will thus have a voting majority on the Executive Council. There will be three Ministers, who will be appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The approval in principle of these proposals has been given by the Secretary of State on the following conditions:

(a) That full responsibility for financial matters will remain with the Governor through the Financial Secretary (because they are still receiving grant-in-aid of administration from H.M. Government).

(b) That the appointment, retirement, dismissal, promotion and discipline of all members of the Civil Service will be the sole responsibility of the Administrator and Governor (who will be advised in respect of relevant appointments and promotions by a Public Service Commission, the membership of which will be entirely nonpolitical).

(c) That the Governor’s reserve legislative powers will be retained.

(d) That legislation will be passed giving power to the Governor to make such emergency regulation as he may deem necessary: to maintain and secure public safety and order, and to provide, maintain and secure supplies and services.

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Letter to the Editor

STUDENTS’ REQUEST

Local students are thankful to the University of London for allowing them to offer Hindi and Urdu as subjects for the GCE Ordinary Level and for the Inter Arts and B.A. examinations. But the same students sitting for the GCE Advanced Level are not allowed to offer these subjects. This exclusion from the syllabus, no doubt, handicaps them to a great measure especially when it is a question of their getting an exemption for Inter.

We beg Sir Christopher Cox and the local authorities to consider this case and to request the University of London to include these two subjects in the syllabus for the GCE Advanced Level exams.

A group of Indo-Mauritian Students

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