Tripura Finance Minister Jishnu Devvarman Wednesday defended his government’s move to impose 6 percent Electricity Duty saying it wouldn’t affect the poor since 52 percent of the population was exempted.
The duty was imposed for the first time in Tripura in September through a notification of the state government. The Finance Minister’s reaction came in the wake of widespread protests on the issue.
“We are trying to build efficient and modern power sector in Tripura. This electricity duty will earn Rs. 115.87 crore tax for the state government every year. Also, it will not afect the poor in any way since 52 percent of the state’s population, who incur electricity bills less than Rs. 400 per month, would be exempted from this duty”, Devvarman, who is also in charge of the Power Department, told reporters. Kutir Jyoti scheme beneficiaries would also be exempt from this tax.
For the remaining 48 percent people, 5 percent Electricity Duty would be levied per month with effect from October. On the other hand, 6 percent Electricity Duty would be charged on power sale to other states and international sale from now on.
Tripura is a power surplus state and produces over 500 MW power while its domestiuc requirement is only 300 MW. The rest is sold to different states and some countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.
Devvarman reasoned that Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government has not introduced Electricity Duty anew but only implemented the model previously implemented in other states like Gurajat, Odisha, Assam etc. In Northeast, Electricity Duty was previously introduced in Assam in 1964 and Meghalaya in 1972.
“This is minimum pain, maximum gain”, the minister said.
Opposition CPI (M) has already termed the decision to impose Electricity Duty ‘anti people’ and has demanded its immediate rollback. Four Left political parties of the state – CPI, CPI (M), RSP and Forward Bloc held protest rally in the state demanding rollback of the electricity duty.