Akali Dal attacks Anil Joshi on tax issue
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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday advised Local Bodies Minister Anil Joshi not to play politics on the issue of input tax credit (ITC) besides urging BJP party president Kamal Sharma to direct Joshi not to flout the principles of coalition ‘dharma’ as well as collective responsibility of the State cabinet.
In a statement here, SAD general secretary and party core committee member Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it was shocking as well as unacceptable for Anil Joshi to issue ultimatums threatening that he would lead an agitation in case an amendment made in the VAT Act was not revoked immediately.
“This was most surprising considering the fact that Mr Joshi participated in the cabinet meeting held in October 2013 in which it was decided to amend section 13(1) of the VAT Act which provided that ITC would not be available unless such goods were sold or used in the manufacture or processing of goods meant for sale in the State,” Maheshinder Singh Grewal said.
Grewal said from this it was clear that Anil Joshi was part and parcel of the decision to impose ITC on stocks and even ratified it not only in the cabinet but also during the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha when the amendment was taken up for consideration.
The senior akali leader said all ministers needed to practise restraint and adhere to the principles of coalition dharna and collective responsibility. “This means that all decisions taken collectively should be owned by everyone and no one minister should try to project that he was not part of the decision making process”, he added.
Speaking on the issue of ITC, the SAD leader said the SAD-BJP government believed in taking feedback from the people and reacting on it. “It is based on this feedback which was given to Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal by various trader groups that it was decided to roll back ITC on stocks”, he said adding former minister and senior BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia had also made a plea in this regard to the Deputy CM.
Grewal said the fundamental idea behind amending the VAT Act earlier was to control evasion of taxes. “There was feedback that against the total of 2.49 lakh registered traders, 1063 traders were paying 85 % of the total tax. Also total of only 3,000 dealers were paying 90 % tax collected by the state. As many as 1.44 lakh dealers did not pay any tax”.
The SAD leader said though the decision to amend the VAT Act was done to streamline tax collection and control evasion, some practical difficulties were reported by the traders due to which the decision was rolled back.
“Like the earlier decision to amend the VAT Act which was taken following feedback from everyone, the decision to withdraw the amendment is also part of this process”, he said while urging BJP president Kamal Sharma to apprise BJP ministers that they should not try to project that they are not part of the collective decision making process.