Shimla, Aug 24: The Himachal Pradesh cabinet has decided to waive Rs 14 crore in tax owed to the state government by two gold businessmen, allegedly despite objections by the departments concerned. State’s Excise and Taxation Minister Prakash Chaudhary, when asked about the decision, said, “There is nothing wrong in it. Himachal is the only state which had imposed entry tax on gold, which the businessmen imported for processing, and thereafter on its sale after refining works. No other state has such a tax. Thus, we will not charge/recover it,” he said.
While one gold processing unit is located at Nadaun in Hamirpur district, the other at Parwanoo in Solan district has already shut. The promoter of Nadaun unit, Prabhat Chaudhary, had unsuccessfully contested two Assembly elections against Sukhwinder Sukhu, the incumbent state Congress president and a rival of CM Virbhadra Singh.
The state government had initially imposed an entry tax of one per cent on gold, which was later reduced to .50 per cent and thereafter to .10 per cent. The two units did not deposit the entry tax since 2013 despite notices. The liability of Nadaun unit was around Rs 5.64 crore while the rest was recoverable from the second unit, which had become defunct.
When contacted, Chaudhary said, “The Himachal government had been unfair to the gold processing industry. No other state had this entry tax. We pay customs duty and other duties to the central government. I had presented my case to CM Virbhadra Singh and other ministers with full facts.”
Himachal has a debt burden of Rs 50,000 crore and had to raise Rs 800 crore in loans only last week to meet ways and means situation. Insiders say some of the cabinet ministers were opposed to the waiver while an excise official said the “cabinet memorandum had put all in black and white about objections of the various departments and serious illegalities”.
Source Indian Express