Meghalaya News 24 Exclusive
Meghalaya taxation department is taking necessary steps 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.
The department has also stopped issuing ‘C Form’ to many petrol pumps for defaulting so that they start paying off their outstanding dues.
Minister in-charge Taxation James K Sangma said in an exclusive interview to Meghalaya News 24 that realization of VAT is a legacy issue and is an ongoing process.
He informed that the officers of the department are working very hard to realize all outstanding dues, which are long standing and have not suddenly accrued and accumulated just yesterday.
His statement came as a reaction to the recent allegation made by the opposition Congress that the government has failed to realize outstanding VAT amounting to Rs 650 crore from over 230 petrol pumps across the state for the past 3 years.
Congress spokesman Zenith Sangma had alleged the state’s taxation department has termed the attempt to waive off 30 percent of the total outstanding dues through the OTS scheme as a well-scripted modus operandi of the present MDA government.
When sought for reaction, James K Sangma said he failed to understand why the Congress feels that the OTS is an evil scheme.
“The OTS is a very flexible scheme which 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. So it is a win-win situation for everybody and it is not something that the government of Meghalaya has cooked up, this is something that is a practice I have mentioned which is there in many others even in the central government that this is offered,” he said.
“It is very easy to make allegations here you know and we all know that the Congress party has run out of any kind of constructive criticism that they can give so they can only resort to criticizing the government for the sake of criticizing the government,” James added.
He however said the government is open to good ideas and suggestions and if the Congress would like to give them, “we are very much open to accepting and considering those ideas.”
Apart from OTS, the taxation minister said that the department has also stopped issuing of C Form against defaulters.
According to him, once they don’t have the C Form they cannot transport oil and bring it to the petrol pumps for sale.
“We hope to see that they will come forward and start paying off their dues. This has been a process which has been initiated sometime back it is not just now – so we are seeing many people coming forward and availing the OTS and lots of people coming forward and paying off their dues but there are still a lot of them who have still not cleared off these outstanding dues,” he informed.
Asked, James said that there are lots of issues which have contributed to the huge outstanding dues by the petrol pumps.
“I don’t want to go into a blame game, otherwise it is very easy for me to just say that the Congress government in the past didn’t do anything, they were sleeping on this. Zenith Sangma himself was a taxation minister for some time so I don’t want to go into all that.
I think we have to look forward as to how we now recover these dues and make sure that these petrol pump owners should also come forward and avail whatever offers that are there to clear their dues because this is going to hang over their heads for a very long time,” he asserted.
To another query, the taxation minister said this is going to hamper as tax is something that is related to production and related to economic activity.
“And economic activity we all can see is at a virtual standstill right now so we will see that impact our tax collection in the future…we have to be ready for it,” he said.
On the other hand, James said easing the situation is not something that is just for the taxation department as it has to be a holistic picture and now the holistic picture is very difficult because today with COVID, the choice is between safety and resuming economic activities.
“…obviously health and the life of our citizen is paramount, so there is no compromise on that point – so till such time we see that COVID and its impact slowly starts fading away and life starts returning back to normalcy then only we will see economic activities starts coming back and – that’s the only way we can see otherwise right now the choice is very simple that human lives matter and that outweighs any kind of economic activities,” he stated.
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