Provincial President National Conference, Devender Singh Rana, Monday questioned the rationale behind General Sales Tax amnesty in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the decision seems to benefit a chosen few under the guise of GST reconciliation thereby causing a loss of nearly Rs 1,000 crore to the state exchequer.
"The intent of the PDP-BJP government has raised many eyebrows, as the move will bail out those who have collected taxes from consumers but not deposited with the designated authorities with malicious intent for more than a decade," Rana said, adding that such a step also incentivises tax evaders and discourages honest sales tax payers.
Rana said that under the garb of reconciliation of General Sales Tax, the amnesty scheme is a covert way to benefit those who have not only withheld the taxes collected from consumers but also used that money for furthering their businesses thus depriving the government of its due. "It is almost like punishing the scrupulous traders and business houses and rewarding unscrupulous ones", he said.
"Given the estimates worked out by the coalition government about realisation of Rs 200 to Rs 300 crore from the defaulters after effecting the amnesty or waiver, the amount actually due could have been somewhere over Rs 1,000 crores after over a decade, if the amnesty was not declared", the Provincial President said, adding that this poor state cannot bear such a huge loss. He questioned the desirability of such a move after two and half years of the present dispensation and said that the government owes an explanation to the people as to what actually prompted for announcing such a huge relief. He said the government could have set-up an empowered committee to examine the representations of aggrieved members of trade and industry instead of making it generic.
"I understand, after having expressed his intent to bring such a scheme in his budget speech, the Finance Minister kept the proposal under cold storage in view of the resistance by the opposition parties, who voiced vociferously pitfalls of such an amnesty. It is believed that the authorities came under immense political pressure to bring such an amnesty despite reservations from all concerned," the MLA Nagrota said.
Rana sought immediate roll back of the amnesty scheme and said there should be a threadbare debate on the subject before a final call is taken.