Finance Minister P Chidambaram Tuesday ruled out levying wealth tax on agriculture land on the floor of the Parliament. Making a brief statement while moving the Finance Bill for voting,Chidambaram introduced an amendment on the issue of wealth tax in view of misapprehensions as to whether it will apply to agriculture land.
There was apprehension that wealth tax was being imposed on agricultural land. Let me make it absolutely clear that the policy of the UPA government is not to impose wealth tax on agriculture land, he said.
With apprehensions raised by farmers,especially those in Punjab and Haryana,and capitalised by Congress opponents,Finance Minister P Chidambaram said,The matter should come to an end, he said,adding urban land does not include agriculture land which is so declared in government records. The apprehensions arose on account of Punjab and Haryana High Court rulings,the minister said,adding he had worked hard on Monday to prepare the amendment and obtain the approval of the President.
Under attack over proposal in the Budget,the Centre also sought to explain that wealth tax was proposed only on urban land and not on agricultural land.
As the wealth tax is levied only on unproductive assets,there was no intention to levy wealth tax on the agricultural land which cannot be termed as unproductive assets, the Finance Ministry explained after passage of the Finance Bill 2013 in the Lok Sabha amid opposition walkout.
It further said that the wealth tax is not leviable on urban land which is classified as agricultural land in the records of the Government; and used for agricultural purposes.
The proposed amendment will take effect retrospectively from April 1,1993,the ministry said.
Earlier,Chidambaram gave credit to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and some other Congress leaders for drawing the attention of the Centre to the issue with infuriated SAD members from Punjab.
Meanwhile,Congress MP and Hoodas son,Deepender Singh Hooda said the amendment lays a legal foundation on the issue,addresses the concerns of farmers and takes care of the loopholes in the Punjab and Haryana High Court a judgement.
Citing the loophole in a the court judgement,the 35-year-old Lok Sabha member said,We wanted it in the law. That is why we had moved the amendment. Now,since the government itself has moved the amendment,we welcome it.
Deepender,who was part of the 30-member delegation that met the Finance Minister Monday,said the whole issue was explained to Chidambaram after which he promised to make a statement in Parliament to assure that wealth tax will not be imposed on agriculture land.
But I insisted on an amendment so that it becomes legal, he said,adding Chidambaram later realised it and brought the amendment from the government side.
Later in the day,his father thanked UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram for making the announcement in the parliament.
It has now become amply clear that interests of the farmers are completely safe in the hands of Congress government, Hooda said in a statement from Chandigarh.