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VAT from April in Gujarat, amnesty scheme for Sales Tax defaulters

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Gandhinagar, Feb 24 (UNI) Even as Gujarat has decided to replace Sales Tax (ST) with Value Added Tax (VAT) from April one, Chief Minister Narendra Modi today annouunced an amnesty scheme for the Sales Tax defaulters.

Presenting his maiden budget in the State Assembly here, Mr Modi said that if the entire outstanding ST was paid by March 31, all interest and penalty on the dues would be completely waived off.

With the implementation of VAT in the state from April one, he said the Sales Tax Act, 1969, would stand repealed from the same date. The relevant VAT Amedment Bill is proposed to be introduced during the current budget session itself, he said.

The Chief Minister could not give the exact amount of outstanding ST dues being charged since the formation of the state in 1960. As per a written reply, it was over Rs 3,224 crore from the big industries alone.

Mr Modi said the government would celebrate the diamond jubilee of Gujarat on a grand scale in 2010, the preparation for which would begin from the next financial year, for which he has allocated a sum of Rs one crore.

Rounding up his two-hour long maiden budget speech, he proposed additional taxation of Rs 17.50 crore and relief of Rs 341 crore, leaving an uncovered overall deficit of Rs 296.44 crore for 2006-07, after taking into account Rs 27.06 crore surplus from the previous fiscal.

He said there will be additional taxation of Rs 2.50 crore on entertainment tax and Rs 15 crore on motor vehicle tax. At the same time, he proposed a relief of Rs 195 crore on stamp duty, Rs 120 crore on electricity duty, Rs 18 crore on entertainment tax, Rs three crore on luxury tax and Rs five crore on Motor Vehicle Tax.

The relief is mainly for about 80 lakh small shopkeepers and householders, he stressed.

Mr Modi who retained the finance portfolio, after the previous Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala became the state BJP president, became the fifth Gujarat Chief Minister to present the annual budget.

Other Chief Ministers who had presented the budgets as Finance Ministers were Madhavsinh Solanki, Babubhai J Patel, Balwantrai Mehta and Jivraj Mehta.

UNI VKC SSS SS HS1849

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