A big shutdown in the district will be the industrialists' open feedback to the government on advance tax, unless a miracle happens in a fortnight.
Seeing the growing anguish among the vote-bank business community before the Lok Sabha elections coming up next year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), state's ruling-alliance partner, has promised it a solution in 15 days.
The shutdown was planned during the industrialists' last agitation over the issue on October 23. "Local legislator and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) KD Bhandari has arranged our meeting with state BJP president Kamal Sharma since," Federation of Jalandhar Industrial and Traders Associations president Gursharan Singh said here on Thursday, adding: "Sharma has agreed to resolve all our issues, including advance tax, the delay in receiving the value-added tax refund, and the penalty on construction in the industrial zones, in a fortnight."
If the issues remained unresolved, shutdown was on, said Gursharan Singh. "Our VAT refunds are long pending but except assurance from the deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, we have received nothing," he added. Sukhbir had agreed to clear the dues before September 15, and more than three months on, Rs. 30 crore VAT refund continues to be unpaid.
Saying that advance tax was just the old entry tax by another name, Punjab Vyapar Sena leader Ravinder Dhir said the state government had brought back a duty that court had abolished. "The excise and taxation department harass traders and have blocked many taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) without valid reason," Dhir added.
Sources in the BJP said that fearing alienation of the business community, a traditional support group, state party president Kamal Sharma had got all party legislators together and told them to speak with the industrialists' bodies in respective constituencies. The saffron party is also worried that it might fail to collect the election fund from the annoyed business community.
What is advance tax
Implemented in Punjab from October 5
30 items', raw material mainly, covered
Tax from 5.5 to 14% (based on value-added tax on particular item) to be paid when the items enter the state
Adjustable against value-added tax (VAT)
In case of export and tax-free items, possibility of exemption, based on individual cases.