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Nepal’s ex-king ready to pay taxes


Kathmandu : More than 14 months after he was officially stripped of his crown by lawmakers and asked to vacate the royal palace, Nepal’s last king Gyanendra is now ready to live as other commoners, including paying taxes, utilities and telephone bills.

The 62-year-old, whose nearly 250-year-old family had in the past remained above law, has now contacted the finance ministry to enquire how much tax he would have to pay, Nepal’s Finance Minister Surendra Pandey Wednesday told a group of visiting journalists.

The former king’s aides have requested the ministry for an income tax rebate as well as concessions on his phone and electricity bills, the minister said.

Though the deposed king did not respond last year to the call by the earlier Maoist government – responsible for his downfall – to voluntarily disclose income and avail of tax rebate as well as amnesty, he is now ready to pay his dues to the present coalition government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Last year, three nieces of the ousted king became the first members of the royal family to seek to pay property tax.

Former princesses Sitashma, Dilasha and Puja, daughters of Gyanendra’s younger brother Prince Dhirendra, who perished in the massacre in the royal palace in 2001, have sought to pay tax after a pro-democracy movement in 2006 dealt a blow to Nepal’s all-powerful institution of monarchy.

The nationwide movement forced the king to hand over the power he had wrested through a coup and agree to an election in which the elected representatives overwhelmingly voted for the abolition of monarchy in May 2008.

Once the only Hindu kingdom in the world and now a secular republic, Nepal has also been seeking to implement a ceiling on private property owned by its former royals, nationalise the extensive lands and palaces Gyanendra had inherited from his assassinated brother Birendra and locate the money and other assets of the former royal dynasty stashed away in banks abroad.

Though Gyanendra had in the past ignored several calls by the earlier governments to disclose the extent of his property, the olive branch now indicates he has come to grips with his changed status.

In the past, the king as well as his family remained above the law. During his 14-month army-backed direct rule, the king had passed an act that made any criticism of him or his family members a punishable offence.