Jammu, February 18, (Scoop News)-Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Abdul Rahim Rather today dispelled the notion that more taxes are collected from Jammu division as compared to Kashmir, adding that in- fact there is a significant contribution of each Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions to the overall tax collection in the State. He said it was also incorrect to say that more funds are provided to Kashmir division as compared to Jammu division. The question of discrimination against any region does not arise, Rather emphatically said.
Replying to the debate on demand of grants for Finance, Ladakh Affairs, Planning and Development Departments demands in the Lower House today, Rather said that the entry tax collected at the check post is in respect of use of goods in all the three regions of the State but is charged only at Lakhanpur check post and is not assigned to any particular division. He said an amount of Rs. 140 crore was realized on account of entry tax during the last fiscal (2012-13). Similarly the entire tax amount realized on account of petrol and diesel under Motor Spirit Tax (MST) Act is collected only at single point in Jammu but these are consumed in all division of Jammu and Kashmir. He said an amount of Rs. 672 crore has been realized on this account during the last financial year. He said during the year 2011-12, there has been intrastate imports from Jammu to Kashmir and Ladakh divisions to the tune of Rs. 3874 crore and Rs. 4869 crore during the year 2012-13. “ In an essence average tax of Rs. 309.92 crore and Rs. 398 crore respectively has been deposited by the dealers of Kashmir and Ladakh divisions in Jammu region”, Rather added. He said again due to turmoil in the State particularly Kashmir region, most of the National and Multi National companies shifted their depots from Kashmir division to Jammu division but these companies supply goods to Srinagar which has paid taxes to the tune of Rs. 648 crore during the current year. Similarly the penalty and security levied and collected at check post Lakhanpur is against defaulters and tax evaders and un-registered dealers of both the divisions of the State, adding that an amount of Rs. 23.25 crore has been realized on this account during the last financial year. Likewise, toll on goods collected at Lakhanpur during the current financial year will be of the order of Rs. 545 crore as per B.E. The commutated amount thus collected at Jammu from such organizations and establishments during the last fiscal has been of the order of around Rs. 2400 crore,” Rather added. That does not by any stroke of imagination, mean that revenue has been paid by Jammuties alone.
Reiterating his Government’s commitment regarding vigorous tax recovery drive against defaulters, the Finance Minister said there shall be no compromise in this regard. He said the Commercial Taxes Department has recovered about Rs. 41.86 crore during the current financial year up to December, adding that tax assessment and realization is a continuous process. He said every step envisaged under law is being taken to recover the arrears which include attachment of property, bank accounts, arrests etc. However, he said the drive to recover arrears sometimes suffer as the defaulters succeed in getting stays from competent forums. He said the progress of recoveries of arrears is being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level through regular review meetings. Besides, the Hon’ble High Court is also monitoring the progress of recoveries and issues directions from time to time in a PIL. He said every effort under law is being made to recover all arrears adding that stringent action as warranted under law shall be taken against tax defaulters irrespective of their status and position.
Rather said that the Government has been striving to provide congenial working atmosphere both for dealers and its employees. For this purpose, an ambitious computerization project of the commercial Taxes Department has been undertaken which has facilitated the dealer to opt for e-filling of their returns thereby minimizing their direct interface with the field agencies, which had been a cause of hardship to them. With the computerization of the department, the dealers are now free to opt- for e-payment and e-registration for their own convenience. Similarly the new Toll Plaza at Lakhanpur has been constructed at a cost of Rs. 49.46 crore in a short span of 4 years which has nine weigh bridges and five separate bus bays for passenger buses and light motor vehicles, adequate space for parking of trucks which would otherwise be parked on the National Highway, thus causing traffic congestion and jams. He said Lakhanpur being the gateway to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, all the required modern facilities including fully air conditioned waiting halls, eating kiosks, quarantine sheds, space for drivers and washrooms have been made available there. “ In addition, a new office complex of Excise and Commercial Taxes department at Solina Srinagar has been constructed at a cost of Rs. 34.58 crore which has adequate infrastructure to cater to the needs of dealers as well as tax collecting authorities”, Rather added.
The Minister said that government has already constituted Grievances Redressed Cell with the mandate to resolve the differences arising out of the conflicting interpretation of tax laws between the tax administrators and the registered dealers adding that government also proposes to set up an Advisory Committee which will include representatives from Trade and Industry to redress their grievances.
Giving a detailed account about the measures taken by the government to mobilize internal resources, Rather said that during last about 50 years tax revenue reached to Rs. 2683 crore in 2008-09 which has now increased to a whooping sum of Rs. 6700 crore in last five years (2008-2009 to 2012-2013) which is about two and a half times stupendous increase and a land mark achievement of the coalition government. This phenomenal growth in tax revenue has been achieved notwithstanding the fact that neither fresh taxes were levied during the last five years nor there has been any enhancement in the existing tax rates except a few adjustments here and there. He said VAT has increased from Rs. 594.24 crore in 2008-09 to whooping Rs. 1475.26 crore during last financial year 2012-13, Motor Spirit Tax from just Rs. 294.89 crore in 2008-09 to Rs. 672 crore in 2012-13, Entry Tax from Rs. 93.95 crore in 2007-08 to Rs. 139.99 crore in 2012-13 and passenger tax from Rs. 6.45 in 2008-09 to Rs. 63.14 crore in 2012-13. He said the revenue on account of stamp duty has also increased from Rs. 52.34 crore in 2008-09 to Rs. 210.37 crore in 2012-13. He said government has constituted district and divisional level committees to prepare year wise schedule for stamp duty based on the prevalent rates of land in respective areas.
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