Governing By Committee
The Indian Government loves a committee. It seems there’s no problem that can’t be solved by a panel of distinguished former judges, lawyers, academics, and senior bureaucrats, especially in the area of taxation. Except that, have any of them really solved anything? Not that I can see. Committees were a favorite tool of the former Congress administration when a particularly complicated knot in tax law needed unraveling, and given that India’s reputation in the eyes of foreign investors plunged, we could justifiably conclude that they achieved very little. While I admire the direction that the current Government is taking on tax and the economy, it seems to be falling into a similar trap. Since the BJP won office last year, we’ve had committees on the proposed goods and services tax, on India’s conversion to IFRS, and on resolving retrospective tax disputes, among others. Indeed, there is a danger that the bewildering array of special tax committees just adds to the overall confusion that seems to accompany Indian tax legislation at every step.
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