On the lines of the Delhi government, Punjab is mulling levying a special corona tax on the sale of liquor in the state even as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Tuesday gave his nod to Department of Excise and Taxation’s proposal to deliver liquor at state residents’ doorstep amid curfew.
The Delhi government has levied 70 per cent corona tax on the sale of liquor in the national capital to reduce the crowding at the liquor vends. The decision on levying of tax is being debated in Punjab to reduce overcrowding at the liquor vends.
The state is in the process of notifying its new policy under which it had decided home delivery of liquor to start from Mohali as a pilot project. While the policy was not notified as the curfew was clamped in the state due to spread of COVID-19, the government is in the process of doing it now.
The home delivery will now be extended to the entire state, at least till the curfew is imposed. Later, a decision would be taken on whether to continue it or not.
Sources in the government told The Indian Express that seeing the state of affairs outside vends in other states where people threw all caution to winds, the government was thinking of imposing corona tax. The slab was being discussed, said a functionary.
There are, however, some voices of dissent on the imposition of corona tax as the prices of liquor are maximum in Punjab in the region. Those who do not agree say that smuggling was already a bane of liquor trade in the state and liquor from Chandigarh and Haryana, where it was cheaper, was smuggled in. If prices of liquor further go up, it would only end up in more smuggling and causing a loss to state exchequer.
“We will take a decision soon,” an official said. The government, being the first in the country to seek from Centre the permission for opening of liquor vends, has not been able to open them.
Contractors up in arms
It is learnt that the contractors are not willing to pay the excise duty and other taxes to the government for the entire fiscal year on the plea that 40 days of the year were already over in curfew and they do not know what would happen further. “We do not know how long the curfew and lockdown would last. Seeing the situation in Delhi, where people queued up outside vends, everybody is wary that the government would order closure of vends one day. Then where will we go? We will suffer losses. Then why should we pay the government for the entire year?” asked Mohit Kumar, a Ludhiana-based contractor.
VAT on Diesel, Petrol up by Rs 2 per litre
Following its neighbouring Haryana and Delhi, Punjab on Tuesday hiked the Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel and petrol in the state making petrol and diesel dearer by Rs 2 each. The hike comes into effect from Tuesday midnight and is a bid to mop up resources amid COVID-19 crisis when economy has taken a hit.
The VAT on diesel has been increased from 11.8 to 15.5 per cent and from 20.11 per cent to 23.30 per cent on petrol.
Haryana has effected an increase on both the commodities by Re 1 and Rs 1.1 last week and Delhi had hiked the petrol price by Rs 1.67 per litre and diesel by Rs 7.10 per litre Tuesday morning.
The state government has been saying that its collections had nosedived amid curfew and the Centre was not paying GST compensation. In this scenario it needed to mop up revenue through its own resources. Hence, the only solution would be by increasing VAT on the petrol and diesel. It is also likely to start registration of sale deeds of properties in the coming days to collect collector’s duty. A discussion is on as the government was waiting for the procurement to end soon so that the farmers are not out on roads anymore. Now it has procured a lion’s share of produce. It is thinking the registration could start.
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