The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) on Tuesday demanded the NPP-led MDA government to reconsider its decision to offer one-time settlement (OTS) scheme to petrol pump dealers who defaulted in clearing the outstanding value-added tax (VAT).
In a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and Taxation Minister James K Sangma, the HYC has also suggested the need to take action against the defaulters as per law.
“We urge upon your good office to reconsider the OTS scheme to petrol pump dealers and direct the department concerned…to take necessary steps to realise all outstanding taxes and to take appropriate actions as per the relevant provisions of the law in case of wilful defaulters or delay in making payments,” general secretary of the organization Roy Kupar Synrem said in the letter.
This came after the state’s taxation department has decided to implement the OTS scheme for recovery of huge outstanding VAT from over 230 petrol pumps across the state.
Synrem said it was also reported that the concerned department has failed to realise an outstanding amount of Rs 650 crores (approximately) from these petrol pumps in the last 3 years as VAT.
“if this practice of OTS is to be extended to the petrol pumps in the state, in payment of VAT by waiving off 30% of the taxable amount, it will be a loss of approximately Rs 195 Crores to the State’s revenue collection for the last 3 years,” he added.
On the other hand, the HYC leader also questioned the taxation department for coming up with the OTS when VAT is realised under the Meghalaya VAT Act which makes the dealers mandatory to pay the taxes as computed under the relevant provisions of the Act for the specific period.
In fact, the Act provides for payment of simple Interest of 2% per Month by dealers in case he does not make payment in the due date as per the provisions of the Act as well as it provides for Offences and Penalty for non payment or delayed payments of Taxes under the Act.
He further wondered if it is not illegal for the department to come up with this questionable scheme when the law is clear that a defaulter should be penalised as per relevant provisions.
“Is it not incumbent upon the department concerned to pursue the matter of these tax defaulters in the appropriate forum or the competent Court of Law and realised the outstanding Taxes as well as interests payable, if any, instead of providing them opportunity to pay less than they ought to?” Synrem asked.
Stating that the consumers at the time of refuelling their vehicles from these petrol pumps have to pay the amount which is inclusive of the taxes as levied by the government, he said this means we are paying an extra amount of about Rs 17-18 per Litre of petrol or about Rs 12-13 per Litre of diesel as VAT depending on the rates fixed by the government.
According to him, this taxable amount is being paid by the consumers and not by the dealers as a contribution towards the state’s development programs.
“Therefore, how is it legal or logical that the hard earned money paid by the general public as contribution to the government in the form of taxes be given away to these dealers who are already earning commission from every litre of fuels that they sell?” he further asked.
“If at all the state government wants to waived off the taxes, it should come up with a Scheme to refund the money taken from the consumers to them rather than waiving off taxes to the dealers as bonus which have already been paid by the general public at the time of buying fuels from them,” Synrem also asserted.