KATHMANDU, July 29: Members of parliament (MPs) have urged the government to start imposing security tax on individuals, private organizations, infrastructure projects, industrial corridors and foreign missions using the state security forces.
During deliberations on the proposed police bill at the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the federal parliament on Sunday, MPs said that the unchecked deployment of security guards for the private sector and profit-making enterprises should be stopped arguing that it was causing unnecessary burden on the state. Several high-level government officials including Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai, Inspector General of Nepal Police Sarbendra Khanal were also present at the meeting.
“Other countries also charge fees for the use of state security for private purposes. We can also do the same,” MP Devendra Raj Kandel told the meeting.
Although the exact number of security personnel deployed for private use remains unknown, officials said around 10 percent personnel each of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army have been deployed to guard private individuals, national pride projects, vital installations and various businesses.
Several other MPs including Nawaraj Silwal, Prem Suwal and Pampha Bhusal also opined in favor of introducing security tax in the proposed police bill. The draft bill proposes deploying Nepal Police for the security of important individuals as decided by the government, venues, projects, industrial units, national highways, national pride projects, airports and foreign missions.
Some lawmakers took exception to unchecked deployment of security forces at the foreign missions in Kathmandu. MP Silwal demanded the rationale behind the deployment of 'more than 100 security guards to the US and British embassies' in Kathmandu.
Silwal said that the government should properly assess the need before deploying security forces. The state should charge for providing security to private sector and profit-making enterprises.
MP Jhapat Bahadur Rawal, however, opined against the 'security tax' saying that it was the government's responsibility to ensure security to all.
“It would be unfair to impose tax under the pretext of providing security while the government is already collecting taxes from businesses,'' said Rawal.
But Home Secretary Rai, while pointing to the rise in demand for state security from private-sector projects including hydropower companies, also stressed the need for introducing security tax on private individuals and businesses.
Security experts welcomed the calls which they say could be instrumental in lessening the growing financial burden on the state. Security and defense budget have been rising markedly in recent years.
“It's not a bad idea as there is international practice to levy charges if a person or organization wishes to use state security for private use,'' said former IGP Kuber Singh Rana.