Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) vice-president and Majha in-charge OP Soni, in a statement issued here on Saturday, claimed that the SAD-BJP government was "burdening the masses" through its "haphazard policicies" on the pretext of generating more revenue to meet its day-to-day expenses.
Pointing out that the Punjab and Haryana high court had stayed the entry tax on 26 of 30 items, imposed by the state government, adding, "The government's desperation to collect revenue by hook or by crook can be sensed from the fact that in spite of the stay orders issued by the court, the government changed the name of the tax to advance tax to go ahead with the tax on the 30 items. This amounts to contempt of court."
Claiming that the state government had not yet bothered to refund the VAT amount of about `500 crore to traders and industrialists, Soni demanded that due to this delay, the government must return this refund amount with 12% interest, as the Excise and Taxation department collected 18% interest on tax if the traders delay payment.
The leader pointed out that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced at a meeting with the trade and industry representatives in July that there would be no e-trip on movement of goods, but "he backed out of this promise as traders were being taxed for movement of goods within cities".
He said fuel rates were the highest in Punjab due to high taxation, with petrol `8 per litre more expensive than in neighbouring Haryana.
Referring to the government raising taxes on cold drinks from 14.5% to 22.5%, he said, "The backbone of the urban population has been crippled with the property tax, and now marriages in Punjab have become more expensive due to heavy taxes on marriage palaces, and increase in the amount on excise permit for serving liquor at weddings."
In spite of the stay orders issued by the court, the government changed the name of the entry tax to advance tax, amounting to contempt of court. OP Soni, vice-president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.