Punjab Budget: Industry wants speedy tax refunds, lower taxes

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Chandigarh, Jul 13: Ahead of Punjab Budget 2014-15 to be presented on July 16, the state industry has pitched for speeding up tax refund process, reduction in taxes, power sector reforms and upgradation of industrial zones to boost the state's industrial growth.

"We want the state government to give top priority to speed up VAT refunds to the state industry as the long delay in receiving refunds is hurting the state's industrial sector," Managing Director of Jalandhar-based Nivia Sports, Rajesh Kharbanda told PTI.

Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa will present the state budget for 2014-15 on July 16. The state government had presented a Vote-on-Account in March this year. The industry feels that despite the state government setting up a separate refund account, there has been an inordinate delay in tax refunds.

"As per our assessment, VAT refund to the tune of Rs 250 crore to Rs 300 crore is still pending with the department for disbursement," said Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India president Badish Jindal.

"The supply of our cotton to other states has come to a standstill as the state government is not refunding the difference between VAT (4.95 per cent) and Central Sales Tax (2 per cent) on account of inter-state sales," Punjab Cotton Ginners Association President Bhagwan Bansal alleged.

With sluggish demand hitting the bottomline of manufacturers, the state industry has also sought reduction in VAT on auto and bicycle parts to provide impetus to these key industrial verticals in the state.

"The state government should bring VAT on auto parts from 12 per cent to 4 per cent and on bicycle parts from 6 per cent to 2.5 per cent. This move will give fresh lease of life to these sectors," Jindal added. 

The industry also wants the state government to bring down the cost of energy for industrial sector to reduce its input cost.

"Power sector reforms should be initiated by the state government whereby electricity duty on power and cross subsidy should be brought down while free power needs to be rationalised," said D L Sharma, Director, Vardhman Textiles Limited.

The level of cross subsidisation of agriculture stands at over 22 per cent which is more than the limit of 20 per cent set under National Tariff policy.

The textile sector has sought bringing motor vehicle tax on buses for transporting women workers from rural areas to factory premises on par with school and college buses. Describing poor infrastructure at industrial zones as a hindrance for growth, the industry has demanded more funds to be earmarked for the upkeep and maintenance of focal points and industrial areas.

"There is an urgent need to maintain and upgrade industrial areas and focal points and the state government should address this issue," said R S Sachdeva, Co-Chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce.

The iron and steel sector, which was put in negative list of industries in the industrial policy, has sought a review of this decision so as to enable the sector attract new investments.

PTI

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