No reduction in commercial tax in Kerala: Minister

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Kochi, Jan 17 (UNI) Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac today said the commercial tax rate will not be reduced in the state in this fiscal.

Speaking to reporters after a pre-budget meeting with traders here he said, ''We are not for a competition in tax rate with other states and if the rate is slashed, it could be suicidal for the state.'' The traders had demanded a reduction in the tax rate on the contention that it was higher, compared to other states.

Mr Issac said the government has raised the issue with the Finance Ministry about its concerns over certain states, especially Puducherry, reducing their VAT rate below the floor rate fixed by the VAT Empowered Committee.

A meeting of the representatives of Kerala and Puducherry Governments had been called by the Secretary of the VAT Empowered Committee to discuss the issue in Chennai on January 21, he said.

The Minister assured the traders that the Government was giving due importance to the development of infrastructure and other facilities in this city.

''The city's development will be taken up on a public-private partnership to ensure that more investment flowed into Kochi,'' he noted.

Mr Issac said the state's lottery system will be revamped in the next fiscal and the Government was expecting a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore in the coming financial year.

On gold business in the state, the Minister said the Government had introduced the 'compounding formula' for traders to ensure that the state got Rs 150 crore tax from Rs 15,000 crore worth of business.

Around 150 representatives of 45 trade organisations participated in the pre-budget discussions.

UNI MA GD PDT HS1943

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