Taking on the Punjab government on the issue of advance tax being imposed on stocks belonging to traders, local bodies minister Anil Joshi on Thursday gave an ultimatum to the state government saying he would lead an agitation with traders in case the government failed to withdraw the tax by Monday.
Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Joshi said, “The excise and taxation department has imposed an advance tax on the stocks (material lying in godowns) belonging to traders and industrialists. The traders strongly objected to this. I have repeatedly taken up the matter with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, but to no avail. I am giving time to the state government to withdraw the tax by Monda. In case it is not done, I will lead the agitation.”
Justifying the move, Joshi said, “It is undue harassment to the business community. How can we impose a tax on stock? Numerous meetings have taken place with the officers of excise and taxation department, but they proved futile. We are answerable to the business community and it is our duty to back them.”
When asked that by leading the agitation he will raise a protest against his own government, the minister said, “I have no regret even if my ministerial berth is taken away. The business community has a genuine issue and it is duty of the government to back it.”
Alleging corruption in the bureaucracy, Joshi said, “Many businessmen and traders come to me and tell me that money is demanded from them for various works regarding taxes. If the agitation is launched, the names of all such officers will also be disclosed.”
He said, “Excise and taxation is not my department. It is with the deputy chief minister. But I can say that officers are misleading the government on the issue and affecting the image of the state government.” He had taken up the matter with the deputy chief minister and also in the cabinet meetings, he claimed.