The opposition Congress in Meghalaya has questioned the state government’s decision to implement the one-time settlement (OTS) scheme for recovery of huge outstanding value-added tax (VAT) from around 230 petrol pumps across the state.
“I am quite surprised by the move of the government to arrive at the OTS in respect to VAT realised by the petrol pump owners,” Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma told reporters on Saturday.
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He was reacting to the statement made by the Minister-in-charge Taxation James K Sangma that realisation of VAT is a legacy issue and is an ongoing process.
While informing that the taxation department has taken steps to implement the OTS, James K Sangma had however stated that he failed to understand why Congress feels that the OTS is an evil scheme.
According to him, the OTS is a very flexible scheme that offers people who have defaulted in payment, an opportunity to come forward and pay and for the department these long-pending dues which would have never been recovered to recover these dues.
However, Sangma questioned as to from which provision of law that tax realised is not accrued to the government’s exchequer.
“Is it inconsistent with the law itself…let them (government) come and tell me and then I will speak again,” he challenged.
The former chief minister said everybody who has bought petrol or diesel from the petrol pumps in the last preceding three years, have already paid the tax adding VAT has already been realised by the petrol pump owners.
According to him, petrol and diesel have not been included under the GST regime because of certain reasons agreed by the state at the time of transiting from the VAT regime to GST regime.
“If tax has to be refunded, it has to be refunded to us the taxpayers that is what the law of the land says otherwise the strategy of the government is that we will give you rebate, you come to us, is some middlemen working, we have to verify,” he said.
Stating that the OTS is completely a deviation from the provision of the law, Mukul Sangma said, “If this tax has been collected from us, it has been realised for the purpose of enriching the exchequer of the government not to enrich the pockets of the businessmen irrespective of who are the petrol pump owners with no offend intended to any petrol pump owner or businessman because this may not have come as proposal even from the petrol pump owners, it must have come from somebody who must be acting like a ‘dalal’ (agent), we have to find out.”
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