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CORRUPT HARVEST

REVENUE LEAKAGES galore at the State?s Trade Tax Department, which boasts of dozens of check posts, hundreds of mobile squads, a special investigative branch (SIB) - all meant for plugging in leakages.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 01:52 IST

Foodgrain production goes up, trade tax collection comes down!

REVENUE LEAKAGES galore at the State’s Trade Tax Department, which boasts of dozens of check posts,  hundreds of mobile squads, a special investigative branch (SIB) - all meant for plugging in leakages.

If not, then why, the trade-tax collection on foodgrains and oils is registering a slump this year vis-à-vis the previous year despite the fact that not only has the production of these commodities increased but their prices have also shot up substantially during the current fiscal.

The Trade Tax department’s report on revenue collection reveals that an overall revenue collection on the foodgrains in the State decreased from Rs 7866.12 lakh till October 2005-06 to Rs 7695.60 lakh this year, a decrease of 9.01 per cent.

Trade tax collection on foodgrains dropped ( 41.43 pc) not only in  ‘backward’ districts  like Jhansi, but also in prosperous districts like Ghaziabad  (11.37 pc), which is one of the most-preferred destination for trade tax officials wish to get posted. Likewise, in Lucknow district, the collection dropped by as high as 31.691 pc whereas in Bareilly and Allahabad districts the rise is only as marginal as 0.44 pc and 0.90 pc, respectively.

Similarly for oils, the trade tax collection declined by 14.28 per cent till October this year compared to corresponding period of 2005-06.

The highest fall was registered in Aligarh district where the trade-tax collection on oils came down by 43.59 per cent. Aligarh was followed by Kanpur, Moradabad where collection dropped by 17.25 pc and 11.01 pc respectively. The tax collection on oil seeds fell by 41.44 per cent in Meerut, 15.30 pc in Ghaziabad, and 14.14 per cent in Jhansi. Similarly,  tax collection from pulses fell by 16.16 pc in Lucknow.

Principal Secretary (Tax and Registration) K Chandramauli admitted decrease in revenue from foodgrains, oils etc. “We are looking into the matter and calling concerning officials’ explanation,” he said and added, “Productions have also declined this year in some districts leading to low tax collection.”

However, the statistics available with the Agriculture Directorate do not support Chandramauli’s ‘low-production’ theory. The figures, for example, show that the Kharif production of food grains in Uttar Pradesh increased from 124.15 lakh metric tonnes in 2004-05 to 138.81 lakh metric tonnes this  years and that of Rabi foodgrains, production rose from 250.55 lakh metric tonnes to 259.58 tonnes. Production of oils, oil-seeds and pulses has also gone up this year compared to the last year. The wheat production alone went up from 229.26 lakh metric tonnes to 240.01 lakh metric tonnes and that of rice from  122.29 lakh metric tonnes in 2004-05 to 136.62 lakh metric tonnes in 2005-06.

Sources in the trade tax department argued that  there was no reason why tax collection should fall despite inflation and  higher production of foodgrains and oil.

“Rampant tax evasion is the only reason for negative tax growth,” they said. They said foodgrains, which amount to 4 per cent tax were being purchased and sold in a surreptitious manner in the State without the traders paying the due tax to the department, mostly in connivance with officials.